There is no reliable record of exactly when the castle’s history began. Experts suspect that it was built in the 11th century. The archbishops of Cologne most likely wanted to use the complex as an outpost for their territory. The first reliable information comes from a document dating from 1135: in this, Count Goswin von Höchstadt is named as the liege of the castle.
When his son Hermann took over the castle and was later appointed Count Palatine by his brother-in-law Konrad III, Stahleck Castle rose to become the centre of power in the Rhenish Palatinate. After Hermann’s death in 1156, Konrad von Hohenstaufen took over the post. He belonged to the noble House of Staufer, who had been in conflict with the Welf dynasty for several decades. Stahleck Castle was to later play an important role in this historic conflict.