Medieval castles in Austria

Lichtenwerth Castle

Lichtenwerth castle was probably once on an island, today on lowland. It was probably built in the 12th century. The first documentary mention was made in 1212. The keep and three-storey main building were renewed in the 18th century. The vaulted kitchen is original and well preserved. The Baroque castle theater dates from 1765 and castle chapel from 1766. Today Lichtenwerth is privately owned and not open to the public.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Münster, Austria

Rabenstein Castle Ruins

Rabenstein Castle was built around 1100 to protect nearby Sankt Paul im Lavanttal. It began as a mere watchtower built on a tall hill. Rabenstein became a castle when Engelbert I Sponheim, Margrave of Istria founded St. Paul"s Abbey in 1091 in order to protect the abbey and town around it. The castle was occupied by the Rabensteins (whose name henceforth stuck to the structure) until 1200, the Archbishop of Salzburg ...
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Sankt Paul im Lavanttal, 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

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

Prandegg Castle Ruins

Prandegg Castle is an elongated castle on a hilltop adjacent to a collection of rocky cliffs. It lies between two valleys formed by the Waldaist River and the smaller Prandegg stream. The first written mention of the castle occurred in 1287. Prandegg was for centuries intimately connected with Markt Zell (today Bad Zell) and the nearby Zellhof Palace. Since the local boundaries changed in 1784, the castle now belongs to t ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Schönau im Mühlkreis, 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

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

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

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.