Bourscheid Castle stands on a site with archeological evidence of structures dating back to Roman times. Standing majestically some 150 metres above the River Sûre, it is enclosed by a circular wall with 11 watchtowers.
Although first mentioned in records from 1095, the castle appears to have been built around the year 1000 on earlier foundations. It was extended on several occasions: the outer wall dates from 1350, the Stolzembourg house from 1384 and the courtyard from 1477. Behind the gateway from the end of the 15th century, a ditch protected by four towers barred access to the upper and lower castles. The southern and eastern towers are from 1498 and the artillery bastions were built in the 16th century.
The extension of the upper part of the castle took place in the 15th century while the great fireplace and tall chimney were completed about a hundred years later. Schenk von Schmidtburg, who acquired the castle at the end of the 18th century, undertook some repair work but was unable to prevent further degradation. In the 19th century, after the chapel collapsed, there was talk of demolishing the building. However, in 1936 it became a listed site and in 1972, with the encouragement of an association called the Friends of the Castle of Bourscheid, the State acquired the building and undertook extensive repairs. As a result of restoration work, the castle is now fully accessible to visitors, but remains a predominately open-air ruin. An audio tour is available in Luxembourgish, German, French, Dutch, and English. Publication of the Bourscheid historical archives has provided details of the castle and its former inhabitants.
The castle is open to visitors all the year round.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.