Medieval castles in Austria

Deutschlandsberg Castle

Deutschlandsberg Castle was first documented in 1153. The castle comprises Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance styles. Today Deutschlandsberg is a hotel and venue for weddings and other events.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Deutschlandsberg, Austria

Strassburg Castle

Straßburg Castle fas first time mentioned in 1147. It was built by Roman I, the bishop of Gurk. The chapel was built in the late 12th century, consisting of nave, chancel and apse. In the 14th century, the chapel was raised by one floor, and another floor was erected in the 15th century above the choir. The last modification to to the choir took place in 1682. In the 14th century, the eastern tower was built on the ...
Founded: c. 1147 | Location: Straßburg-Stadt, 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

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

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

Güssing Castle

Established around 1157, Burg Güssing is the oldest castle in Burgenland. In 1524, Francis I, Batthyány (1497–1566) received it and the associated lands. The family still retains ownership. Times changed and due to the modernization of warfare, the castle and fortress of Güssing slowly lost its strategic importance. In 1777 all guns were removed. Due to the high cost of maintenance and the introduc ...
Founded: c. 1157 | Location: Güssing, 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

Bernstein Castle

Bernstein Castle was first mentioned in the 13th century. In 860 the whole region was part of the archbishopric of Salzburg. The village name Rettenbach was not mentioned yet, but the old Slavic name of the nearby hamlet Grodnau is a sign of the existence of a nearby castle, identifiable with castle Bernstein. Since 1199 the castle was part of Hungary. It is not exactly known when the castle was handed over to Frederick ...
Founded: 9th century | Location: Bernstein, Austria

Mittersill Castle

The area surrounding the Mittersill Castle have been settled since at least the last 4000 years, but the significance of the castle in trans-alpine traffic became especially important between the 10th to 14th centuries. The first records known of the castle date to the 12th century while Pinzgau was under the control of the Duchy of Bavaria, when the Counts of Lechsgemünd decided to establish their family seat there. ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Mittersill, 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

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

Freisaal Castle

The scenic Freisaal Castle dates from the Middle ages. The oldest record of the building dates back to 1392. The name is derived from 'Freudensaal', meaning 'pleasure hall'. Its original purpose was just that: to serve as a pleasure castle for Prince Archbishop Pilgrim II. von Puchheim. Ernst von Bayern re-modelled the building in 1549. A fundamental change in the building′s structures was cause ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Salzburg, 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

Senftenberg Castle

Senftenberg Castle was mentioned first time in 1197. In the 13th century it belonged to the Zebringer family and between the 14th and 15th centuries to the Wallseern family. The castle was destroyed during the rebellion in 1407-1409 and rebuilt later. It was a refuge place during the Siege of Vienna in the Ottoman Wars. The castle was finally destroyed by the Swedish troops in the Thirty Years' War in 1645. Today still im ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Senftenberg, 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

Landsee Castle

Landsee Castle was built in the 12th century. The mighty complex is one of Europe’s biggest defensive structures. The Esterhazy family has owned the fortress for centuries. In the 18th century a fire destroyed the bastion that was once thought of as impregnable. The view from the castle keep of the Pannonian plain, across to the Geschriebenstein and the foothills of the Alps, is unsurpassed. The imposing site, set ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Landsee, Austria

Plankenstein Castle

Plankenstein castle was documented first time in 1186 when it was built by Plankensteiner family, vassals of the Counts of Peilstein. The castle was rebuilt in 1453. Plankenstein was renovated in the late 20th century and is today a hotel.
Founded: c. 1186 | Location: Plankenstein, 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

Herberstein Castle

Herberstein castle sits on a rock in the Feistritz ravine and thus is not accessible from 3 sides. At the same time, the castle is not visible from out of the ravine and was thus naturally protected from attackers. The oldest parts of the castle situated near the zoo stems from the 12th century. The first small castle called Herwigstein stood under the fiefdom of the Stubenberg Clan. Otto von Hartenberg could free the ca ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Hartberg-Fürstenfeld, Austria

Neulengbach Castle

Neulengbach castle dominates the view above the town of Neulengbach. The castle has a three-storey main building and double defensive ring with eight round towers. There is a magnificent Renaissance portal and a courtyard with Tuscan columns and fountain. The Neulengbach castle was founded around 1189. The castle became the center of the local rule of Lengenbach family. After extinction of Lengenbacher in 1236 it came in ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Neulengbach, Austria

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Royal Palace of Aranjuez

Palacio Real de Aranjuez is a former Spanish royal residence. It was established around the time Philip II of Spain moved the capital from Toledo to Madrid. Aranjuez became one of four seasonal seats of government, occupied during the springtime (from about holy week). Thereafter, the court moved successively to Rascafría, El Escorial and wintered in Madrid. Aranjuez Cultural Landscape is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After the Christian conquest, Aranjuez was owned by the Order of Santiago and a palace was built for its Grand Masters where the Royal Palace stands today. When the Catholic Monarchs assumed the office of Grand Master of the Order of Santiago, Aranjuez became part of the Royal estate. This fertile land, located between the Tajo and Jarama Rivers, was converted into the Spanish monarchy's most lavish country retreat: during Spain's Golden Age, Aranjuez became a symbol for the perfection of nature by mortal hands, as El Escorial was for art.

Such excellence was based on strong Renaissance foundations, as Charles V envisaged this inherited estate as a large Italian-inspired villa, a desire continued by Philip II who appointed Juan Bautista de Toledo to design leafy avenues that ran through the gardens and farming land. A series of dams was constructed in the 16th century to control the course of the Tajo River and create a network of irrigation canals.

The splendour of the estate was only enhanced by the Bourbon monarchs, who would spend the whole spring, from Easter to July, at the Palace. Phillip V added new gardens and Ferdinand VI designed a new system of tree-lined streets and created a small village within the estate, which was further developed by Charles III and Charles IV. As Ferdinand VII and Isabella II continued to visit Aranjuez during the spring, the splendour of this site was maintained until 1870.

The Royal Palace, built by Phillip II on the site of the old palace of the Grand Masters of Santiago, was designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo –under whom construction began in 1564– and later Juan Herrera, who only managed to finish half the project. Although glimpses of the original layout still remain, the building itself is more characteristic of the classicism favoured by the Hapsburg monarchs, with alternating white stone and brick. The original design was continued by Phillip V in 1715 but not finished until 1752 under Ferdinand VI. The rectangular layout that Juan Bautista de Toledo had planned, and that took two centuries to complete, was only maintained for 20 years, since in 1775 Charles III added two wings onto the Palace.

Real Casa del Labrador

As the Prince of Asturias, Charles IV was a frequent visitor to the pier pavilions built by Ferdinand VI and grew up playing in the Prince’s Garden. When he became King, he decided to build a new country house at the far end of these gardens, known as the Casa del Labrador (the labourer's house) due to its modest exterior that was designed to heavily contrast the magnificent internal decor. It was built by chief architect Juan de Villanueva and his pupil Isidro González Velázquez, who designed some of the interior spaces. These rooms, developed in various stages until 1808, are the greatest example of the lavish interior decor favoured by this monarch in his palaces and country retreats. Highlights at this Site include the combination of different types of art and the luxurious textiles, in particular the silks from Lyon, as well as wealth of original works on the main floor, where Ferdinand VII added various paintings and landscapes by Brambilla.

King's Garden, the Island Garden, Parterre Garden and the Prince's Garden

Phillip II, a great lover of gardens, paid special attention to this feature of the Aranjuez Palace: during his reign, he maintained both the Island Garden, designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo, and the King's Garden, immediately adjacent to the Palace and whose current layout was designed by Philip IV. The majority of the fountains on this island were commissioned by Phillip IV, while the Bourbons added other features such as the Charles III benches.

Phillip V made two French-style additions to the existing gardens: the Parterre Garden in front of the palace and the extension at the far end of the Island Garden, known as the Little Island, where he installed the Tritons Fountain that was later moved to the Campo del Moro park by Isabella II.

The Prince's Garden owes its name and creation to the son and heir of Charles III who, in the 1770s, began to use Ferdinand VI's old pier for his own enjoyment. He also created a landscaped garden in the Anglo-French style that was in fashion at the time and which was directly influenced by Marie Antoinette's gardens at the Petit Trianon. Both Juan de Villanueva and Pablo Boutelou collaborated in the design of this garden.