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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba

The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Mezquita is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture.

According to a traditional account, a small Visigoth church, the Catholic Basilica of Saint Vincent of Lérins, originally stood on the site. In 784 Abd al-Rahman I ordered construction of the Great Mosque, which was considerably expanded by later Muslim rulers. The mosque underwent numerous subsequent changes: Abd al-Rahman II ordered a new minaret, while in 961 Al-Hakam II enlarged the building and enriched the Mihrab. The last of such reforms was carried out by Almanzor in 987. It was connected to the Caliph"s palace by a raised walkway, mosques within the palaces being the tradition for previous Islamic rulers – as well as Christian Kings who built their palaces adjacent to churches. The Mezquita reached its current dimensions in 987 with the completion of the outer naves and courtyard.

In 1236, Córdoba was conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile, and the centre of the mosque was converted into a Catholic cathedral. Alfonso X oversaw the construction of the Villaviciosa Chapel and the Royal Chapel within the mosque. The kings who followed added further Christian features, such as King Henry II rebuilding the chapel in the 14th century. The minaret of the mosque was also converted to the bell tower of the cathedral. It was adorned with Santiago de Compostela"s captured cathedral bells. Following a windstorm in 1589, the former minaret was further reinforced by encasing it within a new structure.

The most significant alteration was the building of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the middle of the expansive structure. The insertion was constructed by permission of Charles V, king of Castile and Aragon. Artisans and architects continued to add to the existing structure until the late 18th century.

Architecture

The building"s floor plan is seen to be parallel to some of the earliest mosques built from the very beginning of Islam. It had a rectangular prayer hall with aisles arranged perpendicular to the qibla, the direction towards which Muslims pray. The prayer hall was large and flat, with timber ceilings held up by arches of horseshoe-like appearance.

In planning the mosque, the architects incorporated a number of Roman columns with choice capitals. Some of the columns were already in the Gothic structure; others were sent from various regions of Iberia as presents from the governors of provinces. Ivory, jasper, porphyry, gold, silver, copper, and brass were used in the decorations. Marvellous mosaics and azulejos were designed. Later, the immense temple embodied all the styles of Morisco architecture into one composition.

The building is most notable for its arcaded hypostyle hall, with 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble, granite and porphyry. These were made from pieces of the Roman temple that had occupied the site previously, as well as other Roman buildings, such as the Mérida amphitheatre. The double arches were an innovation, permitting higher ceilings than would otherwise be possible with relatively low columns. The double arches consist of a lower horseshoe arch and an upper semi-circular arch.