Beaufort Castle consists of the ruins of the medieval fortress and an adjacent Renaissance château. It probably originates from the 11th century when a small square-shaped fortress was built on a large rock protected by a moat and a second wall above the valley. A reference from 1192 indicates that Wauthtier de Wiltz et Beaufort was its first lord. During the first half of the 12th century, a keep was added and the gate was moved and enlarged. In 1348, the property came into the hands of the House of Orley after Adelaide of Beaufort married William of Orley. The Lords of Orley made significant extensions overlooking the valley. In 1477, Maximilian of Austria transferred the castle to Johann Bayer von Boppard after Johann von Orley-Beaufort committed a breach in trust. In 1539, Bernard von Velbrück became Lord of Beaufort through marriage and added the large Renaissance wing with cross-framed windows on top of the medieval walls.
The castle then came into the hands of Gaspard de Heu who had married Velbrück's granddaughter. A partisan of the Dutch resistance and the House of Orange, de Heu was captured by the Spaniards, accused of heresy and treason, and publicly executed in Luxembourg's fish market in 1593. Philip II of Spain confiscated the property and entrusted it to Peter Ernst Graf von Mansfeld, the governor of Luxembourg. Through marriage, the castle became the property of Henri de Chalon and then Gaspard du Bost-Moulin who had to sell it after being ruined by the Thirty Years War. Acting on behalf of the Spanish king, Johann Baron von Beck, governor of Luxembourg, bought most of the property in 1639. He initiated the construction of the Renaissance castle in 1643 but after he died of injuries from the Battle of Lens in 1648, the work was completed by his son in 1649.
After various changes in ownership including Pierre de Coumont (1774) and Jean Théodore Baron de Tornaco-Vervoy (1781), the castle was abandoned, fell into disrepair and at the beginning of the 19th century was even used as a quarry. In 1850, it was listed by the State as a national monument. In 1893, the new owner Henri Even restored the new building and, in 1928, Edmond Linkels cleared the rubble away and opened the medieval castle to visitors. In 1981, the property was acquired by the State.
The ruins of the medieval castle are open to visitors in summer season.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.