Schönecken Castle, locally known as Burg Schönecken, lies above the village of the same name, in the Rhineland-Palatinate region in Germany.
In 762 Pepin the Short, King of the Franks, grants an estate, in what is now the village of Schönecken, to the Abbey of Prüm. The Counts of Vianden were patrons of the abbey. On order of the abbey they built Schönecken Castle around 1200, although it is not known if they built a completely new castle or rebuilt a predecessor. At that time it was called Bella Costa or Clara Costa. The castle was built on a mountain spur in the valley of the Nims. It was rectangular, had an inner and an outer courtyard and could only been accessed over a drawbridge on its east side. With a plan of 120 by 60 meters it was one of the biggest castles in the region. Its purpose was to control the valley and protect the village, which were situated on the southern border of the abbey's territory and on the trade route from Bitburg to Prüm.
In 1247 Albertus Magnus, Dominican friar and Catholic bishop, and Konrad von Hochstaden, Archbishop of Cologne, visited the castle for several weeks.
In 1264 the castle became the residence of Heinrich of Vianden, who then started to call himself Lord of Schönecken. The last Lord of Schönecken died in 1370. In 1348 Schönecken Castle was acquired by the Archbishop and Elector of Trier; Kuno II von Falkenstein. He then had the castle enlarged. Later the castle served as a base for the archbishops in their military confrontations with the Prüm Abbey.
During the Thirty Years' War, in 1648, Schönecken Castle was conquered by mercenaries.
During the French occupation, in 1802, the castle and village burned down. After which the French administration auctioned the ruins to be demolished, in 1804. In 1848 the Kingdom of Prussia became owner of the castle's remains and in 1906 ordered some restoration work to be carried out. In 1920 however the local authorities wanted to demolish the castle ruin completely. This was prevented by a local student. The ruins were restored in the 1970's and the 1980's.
At present the ruins of Schönecken Castle are state property. The castle terrain is now a picnic area and freely accessible. A nice but rather empty ruin on a very nice spot.