Medieval castles in Austria

Itter Castle

A fort at the site of Itter castle was first mentioned in a 1241. The previous constructions may have existed since the 10th century. The Brixental originally was a possession of the Prince-Bishops of Regensburg; the castle was an administrative seat of the Counts of Ortenburg in their capacity as Vogt bailiffs, it also served to protect the Regensburg estates from incursions undertaken by the neighbouring Archbishops of ...
Founded: 10th century/1878 | Location: Itter, Austria

Vichtenstein Castle

The Vichtenstein castle sits above the Danube valley opposite to the market municipality of Upper Cell (Lower Bavaria). The castle is in the centre of the municipality Vichtenstein. There is no documentary for the construction of the castle but it is believed to have been started around the year 1100. The castle was an administrative centre of the Bishopric of Passau and in the 14th century it was mortgaged several times ...
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Vichtenstein, Austria

Landskron Castle

Landskron is a ruined castle northeast of Villach in the state of Carinthia. The estates around Lake Ossiach were first mentioned in an 878 deed issued by the East Frankish king Carloman of Bavaria, who granted them to the monastery of Altötting he had established shortly before. About 1024 the area was among the Carinthian possessions of one Count Ozi of the Chiemgau, probably a scion of the Otakar dynasty, who founded ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Gratschach, 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 ...
Founded: 1075-1078 | Location: Werfen, Austria

Gösting Castle Ruins

The ruins of Gösting castle offer the perfect destination for a trek within easy reach of Graz. The steep but short ascent passes by the ‘Jungfernsprung’, the place from which, legend has it, the lovesick and grief-stricken Anna von Gösting threw herself to her doom. Further up, by the castle ruins, there are impressive views of the strategically important valley of the river Mur, Graz itself and the ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Graz, Austria

Neuhaus Castle

Neuhaus castle dates probably back to the 13th century. It may have been built on the site of earlier 12th century fortified house. The pentagonal tower was added in the 14th century and the castle was rebuilt during the 16th century. The traffic on the Danube has been able to deny with chain from the chain tower, located below the castle. Neuhaus was besieged at least in 1381, 1386 and 1389.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Neuhaus an der Donau, 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

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

Mauterndorf Castle

Burg Mauterndorf is probably built on the site of an old Roman fort that dates to 326 AD or earlier. It protected the Roman mountain road from Teurnia via Radstädter Tauern Pass to Iuvavum (present-day Salzburg) and served as a residence for the Roman administrator in the Noricum province. The original fort was destroyed during the Migration Period. A castle built on the site in later years was funded and supported ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Mauterndorf, Austria

Bruck Castle

Burg Bruck is a medieval castle in Lienz in Tyrol. It was completed in 1278 as the residence of the Meinhardiner Counts of Görz. In 1490. the chapel was decorated with frescoes by Simon von Taisten. In 1500 the last count Leonhard of Görz bequeathed the castle to the Habsburg archduke Maximilian I of Austria, who incorporated it into his Tyrolean possessions. During the Campaigns of 1796 in the French Revolutionary Wars ...
Founded: 1278 | Location: Lienz, 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

Wasserburg Castle

The oldest historical documents of Wasserburg castle dates back to 1185. The aristocrat Dietmar von Wasserburg was the first noted owner of the estate. Until the 13th century wasserburg remained in the possession of the von Wasserburg line the most notable member being Heinrich von Wasserburg who was the brother in law of the famouse minnesinger Ulirch von Lichtenstein. Legend says that von Lichtenstein took a leading rol ...
Founded: c. 1185 | Location: Sankt Pölten, 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

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

Krems Castle

Krems castle history dates back to the 11th or 12th century. It was built by the Archbishop of Salzburg and mentioned first time in 1248. In the 16th century it was expanded and remodelled in Renaissance style. After 1730 the castle lost its position as administration residence and was left to decay. Today Krems ruins are well preserved. A small museum room opened in May 2015 exhibiting the history of castle.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Voitsberg, Austria

Neuberg Castle

Neuberg Castle in Hartberg is one of the most important preserved castle of Styria. The medieval hilltop castle was built in the 12th century by Gottschalk Schirling as a border castle against the Hungarian armies. It belonged to the Herberstein family until the late 1900s. The square tower is the oldest part of the castle, dating from c. 1160. The finely decorated Renaissance ballroom dates from the 16th century. The ch ...
Founded: c. 1160 | Location: Hartberg, Austria

Lockenhaus Castle

Burg Lockenhaus was built in Romanesque and Gothic architectural styles around 1200, and was initially called 'Leuca' or Léka. The castle is in the Güns Valley, set amidst a hilly terrain in eastern Austria, near the Hungarian border towards Kőszeg. Settlements in the area of Burg Lockenhaus date to the Stone Age. The castle was built around 1200, although it first appears in written records dated ...
Founded: 1200 | Location: Lockenhaus, Austria

Hardegg Castle

Hardegg Castle was first mentioned in an 1145 deed, it was acquired by the Counts of Plain about 1187. Hardegg itself is first documented as a town in 1290. Located on the border with the Kingdom of Bohemia, the area was devastated during the Hussite Wars in 1425. In 1483 Hardegg was bequeathed to the Habsburg archdukes of Austria. Emperor Maximilian I granted Hardegg to his ministeriales of the Prueschenk noble family a ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Hardegg, Austria

Falkenstein Castle Ruins

Falkenstein Castle in the Weinviertel region of Lower Austria was founded around 1050 by Emperor Henry III. 1106 Leopold III, Margrave of Austria purchased the castle, from then on it was owned by the rulers of Austria. 1572 Maximilian II sold Falkenstein to the Baron (later Count) of Trautson. In 1645, in the last period of the Thirty Years' War Falkenstein was conquered by Swedish forces, but not destroyed. Its decay b ...
Founded: c. 1050 | Location: Mistelbach, Austria

Rappottenstein Castle

Rappottenstein is one of the best preserved castles in Austria. It was founded around 1150 Rapoto of Kuenring. Since several owners it was acquired by Abensperg and Traun family in 1664, who still owns the castle. During the course of the centuries a fortification with five baileys and eight gates was constructed. The touch of luxury surrounding the interior is unexpected and comes as something of a surprise to the visit ...
Founded: c. 1150 | Location: Rappottenstein, 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.