The castle was probably built between 1190 and 1230 by the Counts of Katzenelnbogen.
From 1260 the castle served as a residence for the younger line of the Counts of Katzenelnbogen. Count John III. von Katzenelnbogen (1402–1444) had the castle extensively expanded around 1422. It is believed that the complex was destroyed or badly damaged in a dispute with the Counts of Nassau at the beginning of the 15th century.
With the death of Philipp von Katzenelnbogen in 1479, the Counts of Katzenelnbogen died out in the male line. About the heiress Anna, who married the Landgrave Heinrich III. von Hessen-Marburg was married, the entire county of Katzenelnbogen and the castle came to Hesse.
Around 1604, Landgrave Moritz von Hessen-Kassel had the neglected complex restored. Around 1616 he often stayed at the castle. During the Thirty Years' War, the castle was set on fire and destroyed by troops from Lower Hesse in 1647. A planned reconstruction was omitted. The castle has been owned by the State of Hesse since 1949.