The mighty Ptuj Castle was built in the mid-12th century, when it was constructed to defend against the Hungarians. The oldest written record about the castle is by the chronicler of the Salzburg archbishop Konrad I, who occupied this position from 1106 to 1147. The old chronicler wrote that Konrad I had the castle rebuilt on the site of the old demolished one. That means that even before the 12th century, there was a constructed castle. What remains of it is the west tower, which belongs, according to the architecture, to the 10th or even the 9th century. In that period, there were most probably other buildings on the slope rising above Ptuj and belonging to the Salzburg archbishops, but no material evidence has been found so far.
The castle buildings were during all those centuries surrounded by ramparts, as the Ptuj castle was considered until the end of Turkish invasions as one of the mightiest fortresses in this part of the country. Of the defence system before the 16th century remain the west tower, some parts of the actual walls, both south towers and the north one. Ptuj was one of the bordering towns and the provincial government of Styria had decided to fortify the south border to resist Turkish invasions.
Other major construction works were commissioned by the Leslies and carried out at the end of the 17th century. The Romanesque palatial building was reconstructed, and the northeast wing was rebuilt. The most distinguished rooms were situated in both castle wings. Ceilings in the south wing were decorated with stucco. The actual Knights' Hall and the castle chapel, both situated in the north wing, are both two storeys high. In 1664, the former stables were built.
The last Lord of Ptuj, Friedrich IX, died in 1438. His tombstone made of red marble from Salzburg, is built in the ground floor of the castle, where it was brought from a devastated Dominican church.
From 1480 to 1490, Ptuj and the castle were in the hands of Magyars, who had to pass on the occupied area to the German Emperor Maximilian in 1490. The latter kept the town and the castle until 1511, and then sold them back to the Archbishops of Salzburg. Already in 1555, the Archbishop ceded the property to Ferdinand I. The castle remained the property of the provincial prince until 1622, when the Emperor Ferdinand II sold it to the Eggenberg family. In 1634 it became the property of the Thaunhausen family, who donated it to the Jesuits from Zagreb. The latter found themselves in financial troubles and sold the Ptuj castle in 1656 to Walter Leslie, Baron of Balquhane. In 1802 the family Leslie died out, and with the contract by the trust, the castle was attributed to the Dietrichstein family. This family died out in 1858, and thus the castle was judicially confiscated until it would be possible to determine its heir.
Theresia Herberstein, the countess who bought the castle in 1873, literally saved it from ruin. She had all buildings thoroughly renovated and furnished anew. The Herbersteins remained in the castle until 1945. Immediately after World War II, the castle was turned into a museum.References:
Augustusburg Palace represents one of the first examples of Rococo creations in Germany. For the Cologne elector and archbishop Clemens August of the House of Wittelsbach it was the favourite residence. In 1725 the Westphalian architect Johann Conrad Schlaun was commissioned by Clemens August to begin the construction of the palace on the ruins of a medieval moated castle.
In 1728, the Bavarian court architect François de Cuvilliés took over and made the palace into one of the most glorious residences of its time. Until its completion in 1768, numerous outstanding artists of European renown contributed to its beauty. A prime example of the calibre of artists employed here is Balthasar Neumann, who created the design for the magnificent staircase, an enchanting creation full of dynamism and elegance. The magical interplay of architecture, sculpture, painting and garden design made the Brühl Palaces a masterpiece of German Rococo.
UNESCO honoured history and present of the Rococo Palaces by inscribing Augustusburg Palace – together with Falkenlust Palace and their extensive gardens – on the World Heritage List in 1984. From 1949 onwards, Augustusburg Palace was used for representative purposes by the German Federal President and the Federal Government for many decades.
In 1728, Dominique Girard designed the palace gardens according to French models. Owing to constant renovation and care, it is today one of the most authentic examples of 18th century garden design in Europe. Next to the Baroque gardens, Peter Joseph Lenné redesigned the forested areas based on English landscaping models. Today it is a wonderful place to have a walk.