Medieval castles in Austria

Neu-Montfort Castle Ruins

Neu-Montfort was a medieval hilltop castle in Götzis built between 1311-1319 by the Count of Montfort. 50 years later they sold their rule to the Habsburgs, who were able to acquire in 1363 the first piece of Vorarlberg. Neu-Montfort is one of the few castles that were not destroyed by the Appenzell Wars (1405-1408). The decline began in 1693 when the last resident Ulrich Koch died.
Founded: 1311-1319 | Location: Götzis, Austria

Ehrenhausen Castle

Ehrenhausen Castle is well-preserved three-story and four-wing building from the 12th century. The castle was first mentioned in 1240. The current castle was built by the Eggenberg family in the 16h century. It was one of Austria′s numerous fortifications that secured the South and the East of the country against the Turks. On the castle hill there is also the mausoleum of Ruprecht von Eggenberg (1546-1611) and his nep ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ehrenhausen, Austria

Kaja Castle Ruins

Kaja Castle was first mentioned in 1196. In the late 14th century it was conquered by robber barons Johann and Heinrich Leipa who spread the terror in the surrounding villages. The castle was again conquered by Hussites in 1425-1427. Later Kaja castle fell on decay, today it stands partly restored.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Hardegg, Austria

Pürnstein Castle

Pürnstein castle, towering high above the valley, was built in the late 10th century. It was first time documented in 1170. In the 13th century, the castle became into the possession of the Prince-Bishopric of Passau. The current appearance dates mainly from the mid-15h century. The castle chapel was consecrated in 1449. Part of the ruins of the original fortifications are also preserved to this day. A fire on Septe ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Pürnstein, Austria

Landeck Castle

Landeck castle has been built in 1290 by the Counts of Tyrol as site of the court and administration. From the 14th century onward the name was also used for the castle and the entire region from the Stanzertal valley to Fliess and Zams. After 1797 is was used as a hospital, casern and accomodation for workers. However, nowadays in Landeck Castle there is the Regional Museum Landeck featuring a permanent exhibition, illu ...
Founded: 1290 | Location: Landeck, Austria

Groppenstein Castle

First mentioned in historic documents in 1254, Burg Groppenstein was built in a particularly beautiful place, where the River Mallnitz flows into the River Möll. In the 15th century it was turned into a defence in the style of the late Middle Ages. In 1872 the castle was renovated by the Viennese architect Adolf Stipperger, and its exterior design has since been unchanged. The Romanesque wing was replaced by Gothic ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Semslach, 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

Neuhaus Castle

Neuhaus castle was constructed in the mid-14th century by the House of Stubenberg. Records from 1375 document the name 'Hans from Neuhaus'. Later, the Drachsler family and the counts of Wurmbrand owned the castle. The counts of Wurmbrand reinforced the castle as the Turks threatened the area. Administration of the castle was later relocated to Altschielleiten. Around 1800 the castle was destroyed almost totally ...
Founded: c. 1350 | Location: Stubenberg, 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 at the viewing ...
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Großgmain, Austria

Persenbeug Castle

The first historical mention of the Persenbeug Castle dates from 970 AD when Bavarian Count of Semt and Ebersberg took possession of site and fortified it. Until 1593 it was owned by the Austrian imperial house. Then it went to the Hoyos family. The current appearance dates mainly from the 16th century. In 1800 Emperor Franz I of Austria bought the castle and the Persenbeug estate as a free private property. Today Persen ...
Founded: 970 AD | Location: Persenbeug, Austria

Neu-Ems Castle

Neu-Ems (also known as Schloss Glopper) is a medieval castle in Hohenems. It was the fortification of the Lords of Ems. The castle is in the mountainside east of the town, in its mountain village Emsreute on a crest above the Rhine valley. Approved by Emperor Louis IV the Bavarian, Ritter Ulrich I. von Ems (Knight Ulrich I of Ems) in 1343 built a new castle to have a comfortable home for his large family in dangerous tim ...
Founded: 1343 | Location: Hohenems, 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

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

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

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

Altpernstein Castle

Altpernstein castle is situated on a steep dominating promontory. The castle was built between 1007 and 1055 and enlarged in the 12th century by the lord Pilling von Pernstein.
Founded: 1007-1055 | Location: Altpernstein, 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

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

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

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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.