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:
The first historical record of Lednice locality dates from 1222. At that time there stood a Gothic fort with courtyard, which was lent by Czech King Václav I to Austrian nobleman Sigfried Sirotek in 1249.
At the end of the 13th century the Liechtensteins, originally from Styria, became holders of all of Lednice and of nearby Mikulov. They gradually acquired land on both sides of the Moravian-Austrian border. Members of the family most often found fame in military service, during the Renaissance they expanded their estates through economic activity. From the middle of the 15th century members of the family occupied the highest offices in the land. However, the family’s position in Moravia really changed under the brothers Karel, Maximilian, and Gundakar of Liechtenstein. Through marriage Karel and Maximilian acquired the great wealth of the old Moravian dynasty of the Černohorskýs of Boskovice. At that time the brothers, like their father and grandfather, were Lutheran, but they soon converted to Catholicism, thus preparing the ground for their rise in politics. Particularly Karel, who served at the court of Emperor Rudolf II, became hetman of Moravia in 1608, and was later raised to princely status by King Matyas II and awarded the Duchy of Opava.
During the revolt of the Czech nobility he stood on the side of the Habsburgs, and took part in the Battle of White Mountain. After the uprising was defeated in 1620 he systematically acquired property confiscated from some of the rebels, and the Liechtensteins became the wealthiest family in Moravia, rising in status above the Žerotíns. Their enormous land holdings brought them great profits, and eventually allowed them to carry out their grandious building projects here in Lednice.
In the 16th century it was probably Hartmann II of Liechtenstein who had the old medieval water castle torn down and replaced with a Renaissance chateau. At the end of the 17th century the chateau was torn down and a Baroque palace was built, with an extensive formal garden, and a massive riding hall designed by Johann Bernard Fischer von Erlach that still stands in almost unaltered form.
In the mid-18th century the chateau was again renovated, and in 1815 its front tracts that had been part of the Baroque chateau were removed.
The chateau as it looks today dates from 1846-1858, when Prince Alois II decided that Vienna was not suitable for entertaining in the summer, and had Lednice rebuilt into a summer palace in the spirit of English Gothic. The hall on the ground floor would serve to entertain the European aristocracy at sumptuous banquets, and was furnished with carved wood ceilings, wooden panelling, and select furniture, surpassing anything of its kind in Europe.