Situated high over the town of Untergruppenbach, grand and mighty Stettenfels Castle is visible from afar. Anyone heading north on the autobahn from Stuttgart or east from Heilbronn toward the mountains of Löwenstein is unable to overlook this castle.
Built in the 11th century, this was probably a Frankish castle. In later years, possession alternated between the many counts of the surrounding villages.
From 1356, Stettenfels Castle and the lordship were in the hands of the knight Sir Burkhard von Sturmfeder. More private lordships followed until 1504 when Duke Ulrich von Württemberg seized castle and lordship Stettenfels, giving it to Konrad Thumb von Neuburg as a fiefdom in 1507.
In 1527, the heirs of Konrad Thumb sold the property to Philipp von Hirnheim, who conducted the reformation here in 1536. The nephew of Jacob the Rich, Count Anton Fugger, acquired Stettenfels Castle in 1551. In 1575, his son Hans remodeled the castle into a renaissance palace at considerable cost. This is the source of today’s double title of Stettenfels Castle Palace.
Stettenfels remained in the possession of the Fugger family until its sale to Duke Karl von Württemberg in 1747. In 1829, the town of Untergruppenbach purchased the property. Possession changed in the following years: the tanner Friedrich Korn from Calw in 1852, Anton Meyer, a businessman from Hamburg in 1858, the landowner Friedrich Bürkle in 1881 and, in 1888, the farmer Christian Hildt from Weinsberg.
In 1901, Colonel Dr. Walter Putsch from Cologne took over possession of the property and renovated in turn-of-the-century style. The castle became the residence of the Haldenwang family in 1918. In 1925, shoe manufacturer Siegfried Levi from Kornwestheim acquired the castle and property, founding a widely recognized stud farm. Because he was Jewish, the Nazi regime forced him to sell the property under duress and he fled to South Africa in 1934. Chief architect of the Reich, Albert Speer now wanted to establish a so-called order castle, or Ordensburg, for training Nazi elite, and had plans to transform Untergruppenbach into a showplace. Before any significant construction could get underway, the war broke out.
Ravaged by the chaos of war, Stettenfels came under American occupation in 1945. In 1946, the post-war Protestant social service institution (Evangelische Hilfswerk) leased the castle, setting up a recreation, guild and senior center.
In 1951, Stettenfels was returned to Siegfried Levi’s widow during the reparations process. In 1957, she sold the property to Dr. Friedrich Spieser-Hünenburg, who owned the castle for 37 years. The property was ultimately sold by his heirs to Roland Weimar, an architect from Flein. Since that time, Mr. Weimar has attended to crucial renovations, bringing Stettenfels Castle piece by piece toward a new future.