Vildštejn Castle (German: Wildstein, English: Wildstone) stands on rather small granite spur enclosed by the winding Sázek Brook in the south-western outskirts of the small town of Skalná, approximately 10 kilometres north of the district town of Cheb. The two-section castle is divided by a moat beyond which the former outer ward was situated. The grounds are partly built-up by a dilapidated chateau and a smaller building inhabited to this day. Behind the outer ward, the granite spur is intersected by another moat separating the bailey of the castle, which is formed by a compact three-storey structure. The castle acquired its present-day appearance in the course of reconstructions carried out in the 15th and 16th century.
The castle was founded around the year 1200 and it thus belongs to the oldest manor houses in Egerland (German name for the district of Cheb). It is first mentioned in 1224 in a predicate issued by Geroldi de Wiltstein who is presumed to have been a member of the Nothaft family. A historically documented member of the noble family, Albrecht Nothaft, exercised the Wiltstein predicate for the first time in 1225. The Nothafts ranked among the most reputed families of ministeriales and post-ministeriales in Egerland. In the 1200’s, they left Cheb Castle like many other ministerial families and settled at Wildstein Castle. They gradually colonized the castle surroundings and they expanded their domain with the aid of their own ministeriales and feoffees.
In the 1290’s, Engelhard Nothaft of Wildstein and his sons sold or gave away a major part of the Wildstein demesne in historical Egerland to mundane and mainly ecclesiastical authorities (Waldsassen Monastery, Clarrisse Cloister in Cheb, commendam of German knights in Cheb). Before 1298, Engelhard Nothaft moved to Wenberg Castle, which he allegedly acquired through the dowry of his wife Adelheid, daughter of Konrad of Paulsdorf. On September 24, 1298, his wife pledged Wildstein Castle to their son-in-law, Johann Rab of Mechelsgrün, subject to a one-year redemption period. The transaction was mediated by Abbot Theodorik of the Waldsassen Monastery. The pledge was not redeemed and the castle therefore remained in the possession of the Mechelsgrün family. In consequence, the oldest branch of the Nothaft family moved to Upper Phalz. In addition to Wernberg Castle, Ruding Castle near Cham became the main residence of the family. The last male descendant of the Nothafts, Count Johann Heinrich, died in 1734.
The Frankengrüner burgher family from Cheb acquired the Skalná estate from the Mechelsgrüns in 1394. They subsequently sold the estate to the Gumerauer burgher family from Cheb in 1439. The Gumerauers had resided at the castle until 1521 before selling the whole estate to the Šliks. In 1531, Albrecht Šlik sold the castle to Wolf of Wirsperg. The Wirspergs divided the estate into two parts. The estate was purchased along with the nearby Starý Rybník (German: Altenteich, English: Old Pond) by Johann Andreas of Trautenberg in 1596. Around the year 1763, the older outer ward buildings were rebuilt into a new manor house, which served as the main residential building. In 1799, Horní Vildštejn (Upper Wildstein) and the castle were acquired by the owner of Starý Rybník, Georg Johann Wilhelm, who soon added Dolní Vildštejn (Lower Wildstein). The old castle primarily served as an ancillary building with a malt house and storage rooms. In 1884, Alfred and Karl Wilhelm of Helmfeld sold the Wildstein estate to Engelhard of Wolkenstein-Trostburg. Factory owner Geipel bought the estate from his descendants before the end of World War I and his successors owned the castle up to the end of World War II.
The Romanesque castle and the manor house in the outer ward are currently in private hands and the owners are transforming them into a tourist centre.
Interesting tidbit: Witch or White Lady?