Top Historic Sights in Bregenz, Austria

Explore the historic highlights of Bregenz

St. Martin's Tower

St. Martin’s Tower is the landmark of the Bregenz. It offers exhibitions and a picturesque, beautiful panorama over Bregenz, the Swiss mountains and Lake Constance. A warehouse from the time of the city’s foundation c. 1250 originally stood there, which was barely higher than the city wall. The warehouse had a basement, a ground floor higher up and an upper floor. As early as the first half of the 14th centur ...
Founded: 1599-1601 | Location: Bregenz, Austria

St. Gallus Church

The mighty St. Gallus church from the 17th to 18th century sits enthroned above the city. The church was constructed on a pre-Christian cult site and was redesigned on multiple occasions by the famous baroque master builders of the Bregenz Forest. The church was built to the site of pre-Romanesque church founded around 450 AD. Irish monks Columbanus and his brother Gallus founded the destroyed church in 610 AD and ordere ...
Founded: 1737 | Location: Bregenz, Austria

Wettingen-Mehrerau Abbey

Wettingen-Mehrerau Abbey is a Cistercian territorial abbey and cathedral on the outskirts of Bregenz. The first monastery at Mehrerau was founded by Saint Columbanus who, after he was driven from Luxeuil, settled here about 611 and built a monastery after the model of Luxeuil. A monastery of nuns was soon established nearby. Little information survives on the history of either foundation up to 1079, when the monastery wa ...
Founded: 611 AD | Location: Bregenz, Austria

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Hochosterwitz Castle

Hochosterwitz Castle is considered to be one of Austria's most impressive medieval castles. The rock castle is one of the state's landmarks and a major tourist attraction.

The site was first mentioned in an 860 deed issued by King Louis the German of East Francia, donating several of his properties in the former Principality of Carantania to the Archdiocese of Salzburg. In the 11th century Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg ceded the castle to the Dukes of Carinthia from the noble House of Sponheim in return for their support during the Investiture Controversy. The Sponheim dukes bestowed the fiefdom upon the family of Osterwitz, who held the hereditary office of the cup-bearer in 1209.

In the 15th century, the last Carinthian cup-bearer, Georg of Osterwitz was captured in a Turkish invasion and died in 1476 in prison without leaving descendants. So after four centuries, on 30 May 1478, the possession of the castle reverted to Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg.

Over the next 30 years, the castle was badly damaged by numerous Turkish campaigns. On 5 October 1509, Emperor Maximilian I handed the castle as a pledge to Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, then Bishop of Gurk. Bishop Lang undertook a substantial renovation project for the damaged castle.

About 1541, German king Ferdinand I of Habsburg bestowed Hochosterwitz upon the Carinthian governor Christof Khevenhüller. In 1571, Baron George Khevenhüller acquired the citadel by purchase. He fortified to deal with the threat of Turkish invasions of the region, building an armory and 14 gates between 1570 and 1586. Such massive fortification is considered unique in citadel construction.

Since the 16th century, no major changes have been made to Hochosterwitz. It has also remained in the possession of the Khevenhüller family as requested by the original builder, George Khevenhüller. A marble plaque dating from 1576 in the castle yard documents this request.

A specific feature is the access way to the castle passing through a total of 14 gates, which are particularly prominent owing to the castle's situation in the landscape. Tourists are allowed to walk the 620-metre long pathway through the gates up to the castle; each gate has a diagram of the defense mechanism used to seal that particular gate. The castle rooms hold a collection of prehistoric artifacts, paintings, weapons, and armor, including one set of armor 2.4 metres tall, once worn by Burghauptmann Schenk.