Medieval castles in Austria

Hohensalzburg Castle

Hohensalzburg Castle is one of the largest medieval castles in Europe. Construction of the fortress began in 1077 under Archbishop Gebhard von Helfenstein. In the Holy Roman Empire, the archbishops of Salzburg were already powerful political figures and they expanded the castle to protect their interests. Gebhard"s conflict with Emperor Henry IV during the Investiture Controversy influenced the expansion of the castl ...
Founded: 1077 | Location: Salzburg, Austria

Heidenreichstein Castle

The colossal Heidenreichstein castle situated in the moorlands to the northwest of the Waldviertel is the largest and best preserved medieval water castle in Lower Austria. The oldest parts of the castle are dated back to the 12th century. It has never been in enemy hands since its construction. The walls of the four wings, the three corner turrets and the keep are up to four metres thick. A guided tour through the three- ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Heidenreichstein, Austria

Schloßberg

The Schloßberg is the site of ancient fortress in the centre of the city of Graz, Austria. The hill is now a public park and enjoys extensive views of the city. The fortification of the Schloßberg goes back to at least the 10th century. In the mid-16th century, a 400 m long fortress was constructed by architects from the north of Italy. There are records of a cable-hauled lift being in use between 1528 and 159 ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Graz, Austria

Linz Castle

The first written document of castle in Linz dates from 799 AD, during the reign of Charlemagne. Today there are still some walls of this castle, together with bastions and the Friedrich Gate, named after Emperor Friedrich III, who resided here until his death in 1493. As the temporary heart of the Habsburg Empire, Linz was raised by the Emperor to the status of provincial capital. In the 17th century, Rudolf II rebuilt t ...
Founded: 8th century | Location: Linz, Austria

Hohenwerfen Castle

Hohenwerfen Castle stands high above the Austrian town of Werfen in the Salzach valley. The castle is surrounded by the Berchtesgaden Alps and the adjacent Tennengebirge mountain range. The fortification is a 'sister' of Hohensalzburg Castle both dated from the 11th century. The former fortification was built between 1075 and 1078 during the Imperial Investiture Controversy by the order of Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg ...
Founded: 1075-1078 | Location: Werfen, Austria

Lamberg Castle

Schloss Lamberg originates from the 10th century and was first time mentioned in 985 AD. It was called Styraburg and owned by the Traungauer family (of the Otakare branch). Later the castle was moved to to the hands of Bamberg and Habsburg families. In 1666 the castle was acquired by Count of Lamberg. After a fire was destroyed the old castle in 1727 the new palace was built. It was damaged in the Napoleonic Wars in 1800 ...
Founded: 985 AD / 18th century | Location: Steyr, Austria

Ambras Castle

Ambras Castle is a Renaissance castle and palace located in the hills above Innsbruck. Considered one of the most popular tourist attractions of the Tyrol, Ambras Castle was built in the 16th century on the spot of an earlier 10th-century castle, which became the seat of power for the Counts of Andechs. The cultural and historical importance of the castle is closely connected with Archduke Ferdinand II (1529–1595) ...
Founded: 1563 | Location: Innsbruck, Austria

Kufstein Fortress

Kufstein fortress is one of the most impressive medieval constructions in Tyrol. It is located on a hill rising above the city of Kufstein. This fortress has already been built very early in order to control the entrance from the Alpine foothills into the Inntal valley. However, it has been mentioned for the first time in 1205 AD, when it was in possession of the bishops of Regensburg. In 1415 it was reinforced by Louis V ...
Founded: c. 1205 | Location: Kufstein, Austria

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 ...
Founded: c. 860 AD | Location: Hochosterwitz, Austria

Riegersburg Castle

Riegersburg Castle is a medieval castle situated on a dormant volcano above the town of Riegersburg. The castle is owned by the Princely Family of Liechtenstein and contains a museum with changing exhibitions. The castle was built on a hill which had once been an ancient volcano. To be precise, it is the petrified remains of the solidified molten interior, a volcanic neck of a large stratovolcano that probably became ext ...
Founded: 1122 | Location: Riegersburg, Austria

Aggstein Castle

Burgruine Aggstein is the remnant of a castle on the right bank of the Danube, north of Melk. According to archaeological excavations of the foundations of the castle it has been inferred that the castle was built in the early part of the 12th century. The castle was built by Manegold III Aggsbach Getbeen of the Kuenringer family descent and his son Aggstein Manegold IV inherited it as a fiefdom of Bavaria. They started l ...
Founded: 1180 | Location: Schönbühel-Aggsbach, Austria

Rosenburg Castle

Rosenburg castle is one of Austria"s most visited Renaissance castles. It is situated in the middle of a nature reserve which adds to its appeal. The Rosenburg was mentioned in a document for the first time in 1175, in relation to the area of the border along the Kamp River between Poigreich and the Babenberg settlements with the centres, the Benedictine Altenburg Abbey and the Gars-Thunau castle complex. The Grabne ...
Founded: 1593-1597 | Location: Rosenburg, Austria

Forchtenstein Castle

Forchtenstein Castle first part with its 50-metre high keep was built in the beginning of the 15th century by the Lords of Mattersburg, who later named themselves Lords of Forchtenstein. The castle features a tower, known as the "Black Tower" although the black rock that originally lined the tower has since been stripped. The tower contains a 12-metre deep pit used as a prison cell for those condemned to death. ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Forchtenstein, Austria

Schattenburg Castle

Schattenburg castle was mentioned in the chronicle by the monks Ortlieb and Berthold in 1138. Muntifurt Castle, mentioned in the first half of the 12th century, may have housed vassals of the Earl of Bregenz, who ruled over the area at the time. At his coming to power (1182) the Earl Hugo I, the grandson of the last Earl of Bregenz Rudolf (1150), repositioned his residence to Feldkirch Castle, important for reasons of pow ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Feldkirch, Austria

Schallaburg Castle

The central part of the Schallaburg Castle was built in the German Renaissance Age, beginning around 1540, by the Losenstein dynasty. The castle is combination of a Romanesque residential castle and a Gothic chapel, patterned in the Italian Renaissance style. Aesthetically built, it has a well-decorated two-storied arcaded court with elegant cantilevered staircases and a courtyard. The decorations are in terracotta mosaic ...
Founded: 1540 | Location: Schallaburg, Austria

Dürnstein Castle Ruins

The city of Dürnstein and Dürnstein castle ruin are connected by a wall. The castle was built between 1140-1145 by Hadmar I Kuenring and blasted by Sweden under General Torstenson in 1645. You can see a model of the city and the ruins at Dürnstein Abbey. Dürnstein castle is known from the legend about Richard the Lionheart. The legend tells, that the English King Richard the Lionheart tore up the Aust ...
Founded: 1140-1145 | Location: Dürnstein, Austria

Perchtoldsdorf Castle

Perchtoldsdorf Castle probably was laid out before 1000 AD, part of a chain of fortifications along the eastern rim of the Vienna Woods. One Lord Heinricus de Pertoldesdorf was mentioned in an 1138 deed, during the Babenberg rule. Their Perchtoldsdorf vassals continued to rule from the castle even when the Babenberg dynasty became extinct in 1246. The conflict between the Habsburg emperor Frederick III and his younger br ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Perchtoldsdorf, Austria

Raabs Castle

Raabs Castle, situated on a steep rocky promontory above the confluence of the Thaya rivers, towers over the small town. Standing on the balcony is like standing on the bow of a ship sailing into the past. The castle was built around 1050. The castle is presently owned by the publisher Richard Pils and his family. The “province library” publishes numerous award-winning books and books are the focal point of t ...
Founded: c. 1050 | Location: Raabs an der Thaya, Austria

Schloss Ort

Ort castle was founded around 1080 by Hartnidus of Ort, and improvements continued to be made into the thirteenth century - for example by Hartnidus V in 1244. In 1344 the brothers Friedrich and Reinprecht I of Wallsee purchased the castle, which became Friedrich’s sole possession on January 25, 1350. The castle remained in the possession of the Wallsee family until 1483, when Schloss Ort passed to Frederick III, Holy R ...
Founded: c. 1080 | Location: Gmunden, Austria

Gmünd Castle

Gmünd Castle dates from the mid-13th century. During the Austrian-Hungarian War in 1487 it was occupied and destroyed by the troops of King Matthias Corvinus after a seven-years-long siege, and rebuilt from 1502 to 1506 under the Salzburg archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach. During the German Peasants" War of 1525, it was again besieged, though not captured. Archbishop Wolf Dietrich Raitenau had the building enla ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Gmünd, Austria

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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.