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:
Sirmione castle was built near the end of the 12th century as part of a defensive network surrounding Verona. The castle was maintained and extended first as part of the Veronese protection against their rivals in Milan and later under the control of the Venetian inland empire. The massive fortress is totally surrounded by water and has an inner porch which houses a Roman and Medieval lapidary. From the drawbridge, a staircase leads to the walkways above the walls, providing a marvellous view of the harbour that once sheltered the Scaliger fleet. The doors were fitted with a variety of locking systems, including a drawbridge for horses, carriages and pedestrians, a metal grate and, more recently, double hinged doors. Venice conquered Sirmione in 1405, immediately adopting provisions to render the fortress even more secure, fortifying its outer walls and widening the harbour.
Thanks to its strategical geographical location as a border outpost, Sirmione became a crucial defence and control garrison for the ruling nobles, retaining this function until the 16th century, when its role was taken up by Peschiera del Garda.