Karlsborg Fortress is one of northern Europe's largest buildings and consists primarily of limestone from Omberg. Construction was begun in 1819 on 100 hectares of land. The fortress was to house a garrison of 6,000 enlisted men and an additional 8000 to 10 000 people. The walls were mostly complete in 1830, and after comprehensive visits to other fortresses in Europe, fortress architect Johan av Klen presented plans similar in style to the Winiary fortress in Posen (present-day Poznan).
Karlsborg Fortress was built to realize the so-called central defense idea adopted by the Swedish military after the Finnish and Napoleonic Wars. The site was chose by Baltzar von Platen in connection with the construction of Göta kanal. The intent of the central defense idea was that the King, the Council, the Riksdag and central command functions would, in the event of an attack against the kingdom, pull back and ensconce themselves in this fortress in the middle of the country. Even the gold reserves of the central bank of Sweden were to be safeguarded in the fortress in times of trouble.
Due to its great expense and reduced funding, the fortress wasn't in operation until 1870, and wasn't fully completed until 1909. To compensate for the rapidly evolving technology of artillery during this time, Vaberget Fortress was built in the early 1900s five kilometers west of Karlsborg to provide additional protection to the main fortress.
The town of Karlsborg has sprung up next to the fortress. It was initially mostly living quarters for personnel employed at the fortress, but grew to a sizable community, in part due to Göta kanal which passes through the town.
Ever since the fortress lost its intended central defensive rôle in 1918 it has been used as a garrison for Göta signalregemente, S 2, and since 1984 Livregementets husarer, K 3, are also based there.
Karlsborg has been a Swedish listed building in Sweden (byggnadsminne) since 1935. The garrison church is especially worth visiting. The church is housed in the central building of the fortress, 'the last stand', on the second floor above the Fortress Museum. The church was once intended as an assembly hall for the Riksdag in times of troubles. A chandelier composed of bayonets instead of crystal prisms hangs from the ceiling.References:
Hochosterwitz Castle is considered to be one of Austria's most impressive medieval castles. The rock castle is one of the state's landmarks and a major tourist attraction.
The site was first mentioned in an 860 deed issued by King Louis the German of East Francia, donating several of his properties in the former Principality of Carantania to the Archdiocese of Salzburg. In the 11th century Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg ceded the castle to the Dukes of Carinthia from the noble House of Sponheim in return for their support during the Investiture Controversy. The Sponheim dukes bestowed the fiefdom upon the family of Osterwitz, who held the hereditary office of the cup-bearer in 1209.
In the 15th century, the last Carinthian cup-bearer, Georg of Osterwitz was captured in a Turkish invasion and died in 1476 in prison without leaving descendants. So after four centuries, on 30 May 1478, the possession of the castle reverted to Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg.
Over the next 30 years, the castle was badly damaged by numerous Turkish campaigns. On 5 October 1509, Emperor Maximilian I handed the castle as a pledge to Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, then Bishop of Gurk. Bishop Lang undertook a substantial renovation project for the damaged castle.
About 1541, German king Ferdinand I of Habsburg bestowed Hochosterwitz upon the Carinthian governor Christof Khevenhüller. In 1571, Baron George Khevenhüller acquired the citadel by purchase. He fortified to deal with the threat of Turkish invasions of the region, building an armory and 14 gates between 1570 and 1586. Such massive fortification is considered unique in citadel construction.
Since the 16th century, no major changes have been made to Hochosterwitz. It has also remained in the possession of the Khevenhüller family as requested by the original builder, George Khevenhüller. A marble plaque dating from 1576 in the castle yard documents this request.
A specific feature is the access way to the castle passing through a total of 14 gates, which are particularly prominent owing to the castle's situation in the landscape. Tourists are allowed to walk the 620-metre long pathway through the gates up to the castle; each gate has a diagram of the defense mechanism used to seal that particular gate. The castle rooms hold a collection of prehistoric artifacts, paintings, weapons, and armor, including one set of armor 2.4 metres tall, once worn by Burghauptmann Schenk.