Medieval castles in 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

Niederfalkenstein Castle

Niederfalkenstein Castle is part of the larger Falkenstein fortification complex; while the main fortress of Oberfalkenstein today is a ruin, the lower barbican of Niederfalkenstein is largely preserved. The fortification was erected on a rocky promontory on the southwestern slopes of the Reisseck Group in the Hohe Tauern mountain range. The ruins of Oberfalkenstein comprise a Bergfried keep with surrounding moats and th ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Pfaffenberg, Austria

Finstergrün Castle

Burg Finstergrün consists of two castles. The old castle, today in ruins, dates probably from the 12th century. The new castle, built around the old castle was completed in 1908. However, it looks very similar to a historical castle because it was built in the style of the 13th century. Today Finstergrün is a youth hostel.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ramingstein, Austria

Freundsberg Castle

Freundsberg castle in Tyrol was constructed in 1150 by the lords of Freundsberg. Originally the castle consisted out of a single keep, which is still intact up to this date. The chapel next to it was built afterwards in the year 1117. In 1467 the castle was sold to Archduke Sigismund of Austria, who rebuilt the castle and called it Sigismundruh for the duration of his reign. From 1634–37 on, the castle was remodifi ...
Founded: 1150 | Location: Schwaz, Austria

Seebenstein Castle

Seebenstein Castle, just south of Vienna, was built between 1180 and 1230. At one time, it was owned by the Princes of Lichtenstein; today it is privately owned and lived in by a family that opens it to the public on weekends. Filled with antique furnishings, the stone castle has some beautiful stained glass windows as well as a collection of children’s armor.
Founded: 1180-1230 | Location: Seebenstein, Austria

Seggau Castle

Schloss Seggau is located on a wooded hill overlooking the town of Leibnitz. The area around Schloss Seggau has been settled since at least the Roman era, as demonstrated by the impressive lapidarium which has survived from that period. The upper castle was built by the Archbishopric of Salzburg in the twelfth century as a base for missions and supervision and this original structure was expanded in 1218 by the bishops of ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Leibnitz, Austria

Kobersdorf Castle

Kobersdorf castle was built in 1528 to the site of moated fortress from the 13th century. The history of original castle dates back to the age of Ludwig the German (806-876). The first document of Kobersdorf castle dates from 1229. The fortress withstood the first siege in 1270. 10 years later it was conquered, also 1289 after it was successfully recaptured. Finally, Duke Albrecht I and King Ándrás III concl ...
Founded: 13th century/1528 | Location: Kobersdorf, Austria

Dobra Castle Ruins

Dobra castle was built in the 12th century and first mentioned in 1186. The name Dobra is derived from Slavic word for forest. At the beginning of the 18th century Baron Johann Philipp von Ehrmann was the landlord Dobra. After he expanded the Wetzlas castle into a mansion, Dobra castle fell into disrepair.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Pölla, Austria

Gallenstein Castle

Founded in 1278, Gallenstein Castle was never conquered. In 1950 a reconstruction was started to restore this Styrian fortress to its former glory. The ruined Gallenstein Castle hosts many concerts and exhibitions as well as the annual Festival St. Gallen.
Founded: 1278 | Location: Sankt Gallen, 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

Petersberg Castle

Around 1076 Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg, a follower of Pope Gregory VII in the Investiture Controversy, had the Petersberg fortress erected above the town in order to prevent Emperor Henry IV from crossing the Alps. The archbishop also had fierce enemies in the Carinthian ducal House of Sponheim, who after his deposition made several attempts to take possession of Friesach. Constant attacks by Duke Engelbert were final ...
Founded: c. 1076 | Location: Friesach, Austria

Hasegg Castle

Hasegg Castle construction was completed soon after 1300, when Hall was rapidly becoming the center of Tyrolean commerce and salt mining. The building was originally erected to protect the salt mines, the shipping industry, the bridge across the river Inn and the old Roman Road. The castle's mint was established by Sigismund, Archduke of Austria in 1477. The first dollar-size silver coin was struck in 1486. When Ferdinan ...
Founded: c. 1300 | Location: Hall in Tirol, Austria

Sommeregg Castle

Sommeregg is a medieval castle near Seeboden situated in the foothills of the Nock Mountains. The castle was probably erected in the 12th century. The Lords of Sommeregg then served as ministeriales of Count Otto II of Ortenburg, who ruled over extended estates in Upper Carinthia, rivalling with the House of Gorizia and the Salzburg archbishops. In the 14th century, the Lords of Sommeregg achieved the knightly status of ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Seeboden, Austria

Moosham Castle

Possibly built on the foundations of a Roman castrum fortress, the Moosham castle was first documented in a 1191 deed. It was seized by the Prince-Archbishops of Salzburg about 1285 and from the 14th century onwards served as the residence of an episcopal burgrave. Under the rule of Prince-Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach from 1495, the castle was rebuilt and extended. In 1520 it became an administrative seat of the Lun ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Unternberg, Austria

Dürnstein Castle

Dürnstein castle was documented first time in 1144. It belonged to the Dürnsteiner family until 1192. The castle fell in to disrepair in the 16th century and was abandoned in 1610.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Neumarkt in der Steiermark, Austria

Plainburg Castle Ruins

Plainburg Castle - the family seat of the Counts of Plain and a symbol of Großgmain - is one of Austria"s oldest castle ruins and offers a magnificent view over Großgmain and the surrounding mountains. All that remains of the original structure are the outside walls, with a thickness of 1.4m and standing to a height of over 5m. A short climb rewards the visitor with the opportunity to stop and rest awhile ...
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Großgmain, Austria

Greifenstein Castle

Greifenstein castle overlooks the Danube river. Approximately opposite is Burg Kreuzenstein, on the north shore of the Danube. The castle is thought to be built around the 11th century, and was first mentioned in 1135. However, the owners of the castle changed owners frequently during its service from the 11th century to 1918. It began life playing a significant role in the defense system along the Danube. More recently, ...
Founded: | Location: Sankt Andrä-Wördern, Austria

Schlaining Castle

Schlaining Castle is one of Austria’s best-preserved medieval castle complexes. The original Gothic structure was expanded over time by additions in the Renaissance and Baroque styles. The castle was first mentioned in 1271. It has been owned by counts of Güssing, Emperor Friedrich III and Batthyány family. The castle’s inner courtyard contains a mighty keep with walls up to eight metres thick. On ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Stadtschlaining, Austria

Starhemberg Castle

The first small Starhemberg castle was built by Ottokar III, Margrave of Styria between 1140 and 1145. At the time, the Piesting river was the border between Styria and the March of Austria. In 1192, Styria—and, thus, the castle—was acquired by the Babenbergs. The last Babenberger duke of Austria, Frederick II the Warlike, expanded and fortified the castle, leaving Starhemberg as one of the most important cast ...
Founded: 1140 | Location: Dreistetten, Austria

Laudegg Castle

Laudegg Castle stands on a beautiful rock spur in the village of Ladis. The tower house was built in the Early middle ages and is first documented in 1239. However, a local Ministerialeship of Laudeck (an earlier form of Laudegg) is documented even earlier (1232) in the court diary of Duke Otto von Andechs in Innsbruck. In 1406 Oberinntal became involved in the Appenzell peasant uprising under Ital Reding the Elder. Ladi ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Ladis, 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.