Archeological investigations during recent years indicate that the place was already settled around the year 1000, although this has not been backed up by any documentary proof. Although Nuremberg was first recorded in 1050, when Henry III visited the town, there is no specific mention of the castle. The castle does not appear in any documents until 1105.
Between 1050 and 1571, all Kaisers and kings of the Holy Roman Empire resided in the castle. In 1140, King Conrad III started building a second castle on the site, to be the royal residence.
In the 13th century, Nuremberg became an Imperial Free City, and the castle fell into the care of the city. Of all the parts of the castle built during this time, the Luginsland tower, begun in 1377, literally stands out.
In 1381, the robber baron Eppelein von Gailingen famously escaped death on the gallows when his horse leapt into the castle moat.
In the second quarter of the 19th century, measures were taken to preserve the buildings, in particular by Carl Alexander Heideloff, August von Voit and August Essenwein.
In the Second World War, the castle was heavily damaged in 1944-45, with only the double chapel remaining entirely intact. After the war, all the parts of the castle were restored to their historical form, including the Luginsland tower which had been completely destroyed, with the exception of the Nineteenth century additions, which had been partly removed in 1934/35.
Today, the emperor's old mews is used as a youth hostel.