Medieval castles in 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

Ottenstein Castle

The mighty shingle-covered cone and hipped roofs of Ottenstein Castle are an impressive sight. Antique fairs, art and other special exhibitions are regularly held in the castle. Of particular interest to art-lovers is the Romanesque castle chapel with vaulted ceilings decorated with monumental frescos dating back to about 1170. There is also a restaurant. One of Ottenstein family members was first mentioned in 1177, but ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ottenstein, 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

Saalhof Castle

Saalhof is one of the oldest castles in the Pinzgau region. It dates back to the 11th century, when it apparently was the home of the Counts of the region. During the renovation of the facade in 2010, the oldest parts of the castle on the north-east side were revealed. In 1600, Christoff Amann from Judendorf and Saal rebuilt the castle. The marble relief and emblem above the main entrance, laid in 1606, as well as a large ...
Founded: 11th century/1600 | Location: Atzing, Austria

Feistritz Castle

Feistritz Castle in Ilz was built in the 12th century and mentioned in 1122. The current main building dates from 1570. The castle was restored and expanded after the fire in 1605.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ilz, Austria

Araburg Castle

Araburg castle was built in the 12th century and continues to expand into the 17th century. During the first Turkish siege of 1529 it was a refuge place for the local population. Araburg also played a role in the religious wars between Catholics and Protestants. In 1683 it was destroyed during the second Turkish siege. Since then Araburg has been ruined.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Kaumberg, 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

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

Gutenberg Castle

Schloss Gutenberg stands on a prominent rock. IT was founded by Luitold III of Waldstein, who moved into the castle in 1185. The castle has belonged to the Stubenberg family since 1288. The oldest section from the 12th century was supplemented by a 2-story bailey that is protected by two moats. The outer moat is bridged today, the inner was filled in. The castle was remodeled and expanded, mixing the medieval style with R ...
Founded: 1185 | Location: Gutenberg-Stenzengreith, Austria

Schachenstein Castle Ruins

Schachenstein Castle was the last hill castle to be built in the Styria. It was built in 1464 by Abbot John II Schachner of Lambrecht as a summer residence and lordly manor. It was extended in 1630 and 1740. From the end of the 18th century the castle lost its significance and fell into ruins. The main purpose of the fortification was as a home and summer residence of the abbots of St. Lambrecht"s Abbey as evinced b ...
Founded: 1464 | Location: Thörl, 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

Arnoldstein Abbey Ruins

Arnoldstein is a former Benedictine abbey. A fortress at the site was first mentioned about 1085/90, then held by ministeriales of the Bamberg prince-bishops who had received extended Carinthian estates from the hands of Emperor Henry II on the occasion of his coronation in 1014. To strengthen his episcopal authority, Bishop Otto of Bamberg had the castle slighted and established a Benedictine convent at the site in 1106. ...
Founded: c. 1080 | Location: Arnoldstein, Austria

Ortenburg Castle Ruins

Ortenburg castle was erected in the late 11th century by ministeriales of the Bavarian Prince-Bishops of Freising, who then held large possessions in the Duchy of Carinthia. Their descendants began to call themselves Counts of Ortenburg. The castle is located on the northern slope of the Gailtal Alps overlooking the Drava valley. Damaged by the 1348 Friuli earthquake, the significance of the castle diminuished after the ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Baldramsdorf, Austria

Taggenbrunn Castle Ruins

Taggenbrunn Castle site was already used as a Celtic-Roman hillfort settlement in the 6th century BC. The first mention of current castle dates from 1142. The castle was destroyed in 1258 in a rebellion agains Duke Albrecht I and rebuilt ten years later. Later the castle was owned by the Holy Roman Empire and archbishopric of Salzburg. The castle was expanded in 1497-1503. In the 17th and 18th centuries Taggenbrunn was le ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Taggenbrunn, 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

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

Wagrain Castle

Wagrain Castle was first mentioned in 1135. From 1447 on, it belonged to the Engl family of Steyr. In 1499, the property was raised to a noble estate by Emperor Maximilian I. Except for a religiously motivated break in 1620, the castle and its estate remained with the Engl family until the early 20th century. In 1717 the Engls were raised to Counts. With the death of Count Siegmund Engl in 1911, the male line became extin ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Vöcklabruck, Austria

Bidenegg Castle

Bidenegg castle in Fliess was mentioned for the first time in 1339 AD. It was acquired in 1546 by Hans Trautson. The complex was rebuilt in the 16th century, and still retains its appearance. Bidenegg is not open to the public.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Flies, Austria

Reifenstein Castle Ruins

Reifenstein castle was probably built in the 12th century by the Reifenstein family, a branch of Liechtenstein family. In the 13th and 14th century extensions were completed. 1521, the castle was sold to Sebald Pögl from Thörl and rebuilt in the Renaissance style. 1698 the castle came into the possession of the family Schwarzenberg who still owns Reifenstein lands. The castle was inhabited until 1809. It was dam ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Pöls-Oberkurzheim, Austria

Hohenwang Castle

Hohenwang castle dates back to the 12th century and was one of the most important medieval fortifications that time. It is exceptional long structure and one the largest castles in Styria. It consists of the stronghold and two outworks, which are separated by trenches. Their massive decline began in the late 18th century, after it was severely damaged by an earthquake. During World War II more parts of the ruins were dest ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Langenwang, 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.