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 ...
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 ...
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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.