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

Königstein Fortress

Königstein Fortress is located on the left bank of the River Elbe. It is one of the largest hilltop fortifications in Europe. The 9.5 hectare rock plateau rises 240 metres above the Elbe and has over 50 buildings, some over 400 years old, that bear witness to the military and civilian life in the fortress. The rampart run of the fortress is 1,800 metres long with walls up to 42 metres high and steep sandstone faces. In the centre of the site is a 152.5 metre deep well, which is the deepest in Saxony and second deepest well in Europe.

The fortress, which for centuries was used as a state prison, is still intact and is now one of Saxony's foremost tourist attractions, with 700,000 visitors per year.

By far the oldest written record of a castle on the Königstein is found in a deed by King Wenceslas I of Bohemia dating to the year 1233. It is probable that there had been a stone castle on the Königstein as early as the 12th century. The oldest surviving structure today is the castle chapel built at the turn of the 13th century. In the years 1563 to 1569 the 152.5 metre deep well was bored into the rock within the castle - until that point the garrison of the Königstein had to obtain water from cisterns and by collecting rainwater.

Between 1589 and 1591/97 Prince-Elector Christian I of Saxony and his successor had the castle developed into the strongest fortification in Saxony. The hill was now surrounded with high walls. Buildings were erected, including the Gatehouse (Torhaus), the Streichwehr, the Old Barracks (Alte Kaserne), the Christiansburg (Friedrichsburg) and the Old Armoury (Altes Zeughaus). The second construction period followed from 1619 to 1681, during which the John George Bastion was built. The third construction period is seen as the time from 1694 to 1756, which included the expansion of the Old Barracks. From 1722 to 1725, at the behest of August the Strong, coopers under Böttger built the enormous Königstein Wine Barrel, the greatest wine barrel in the world, in the cellar of the Magdalenenburg which had a capacity of 249,838 litres. It cost 8,230 thalers, 18 groschen and 9 pfennigs. The butt, which was once completely filled with country wine from the Meißen vineyards, had to be removed again in 1818 due to its poor condition. Because of Böttger, Königstein Fortress is also the site where European porcelain started.

Even after the expansion during those periods of time there continued to be modifications and additions on the extensive plateau. The Treasury (Schatzhaus) was built from 1854 to 1855. After the fortress had been incorporated in 1871 into the fortification system of the new German Empire, battery ramparts were constructed from 1870 to 1895 with eight firing points, that were to have provided all-round defence for the fortress in case of an attack that, in the event, never came. This was at this time that the last major building work was done on the fortress.

Because Königstein Fortress was regarded as unconquerable, the Saxon monarchs retreated to it from Wittenberg and later Dresden during times of crisis and also deposited the state treasure and many works of art from the famous Zwinger here; it was also used as a country retreat due to its lovely surroundings.

The fortress played an important role in the History of Saxony, albeit less as a result of military action. The Saxon Dukes and Prince-Electors used the fortress primarily as a secure refuge during times of war, as a hunting lodge and maison de plaisance, but also as a dreaded state prison. Its actual military significance was rather marginal.

Since 1955 the fortress has been an open-air, military history museum of high touristic value.