Stein Castle is the most important cave castle in Germany. The origins of the upper house are not totally clear. It may have stemmed from a fortification dating to the Roman or Celtic period. Stein was first recorded in 1135. The romantic figure of the legendary robber knight, Hainz von Stein dem Wilden, is closely associated with the castle. He is supposed to have lived in the castle in the early 13th century and was written about for the first time by Lorenz Huebner in 1783.
The castle itself was in the possession of the Toerring family from the 13th century to 1633 . Albert von Toerring-Stein was the Bishop of Regensburg from 1613 to 1649. Adam Lorenz von Toerring-Stein held the same office from 1663 to 1666.
Count Carl Fugger von Kirchberg bought the property from the Toerrings in 1633. Later it passed by marriage to the lords of Lösch.
In 1818 a 2nd class patrimonial court was established in the old Hofmark in the wake of reforms in Bavaria. In 1845 Amélie de Beauharnais, widow of the emperor of Brazil, bought Stein Castle for herself and her daughter. In 1848 she ceded the Stein Court to the state as compensation.
In 1890 Stein Castle went to Count Joseph zu Arco-Zinneberg. In 1928 the Arco-Zinneberg had to cut down the great St. George's Forest in order to sell the wood to get out of debt. Despite that they had to sell up, the forest was possessed by the state and was immediately reforested.
Upper house, rock castle and lower house are today the property of the newly built Stein Castle Brewery (Schlossbrauerei Stein), founded in 1907, which has been in the ownership of the Wiskott family since 1934. The lower house in Stein has housed a private boarding school since 1948, the Schule Schloss Stein.References:
German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.
In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578).
In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Wenden Voivodship was created here. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but was destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. Already from the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adjusted to the requirements of the Cēsis Castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis Castle estate was obtained by Count Carl Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the eastern block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower.
Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in this New Castle of the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia, Cēsu alus darītava, which was built in 1878 during the later Count Sievers' time, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order. Further on, the Cēsis Castle park is situated, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its winding footpaths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins. Nowadays also one of the towers is open for tourists.