Burgruine Aggstein is the remnant of a castle on the right bank of the Danube, north of Melk. According to archaeological excavations of the foundations of the castle it has been inferred that the castle was built in the early part of the 12th century. The castle was built by Manegold III Aggsbach Getbeen of the Kuenringer family descent and his son Aggstein Manegold IV inherited it as a fiefdom of Bavaria. They started living in the castle from 1180 onwards. Its notoriety was due to the 'robber barons' of Schloss Schonbuhel and Burg Agstein' who imprisoned their rivals for ransom and tied them to a rock ledge all the time threatening to kill them by throwing them into the gorge. In 1181, it came into the possession of the Kuenringer Aggsbach-Gansbach. The castle was besieged during the revolt of the Austrian nobility against Duke Albrecht I in 1295/96. Kuenringer Leutold occupied the castle from 1348 to 1355 and then it fell into disrepair.
In 1429, Duke Albrecht V pledged to rebuild the ruined castle because of its strategical point on the Danube. The purpose was to collect taxes from passing boats. In 1438, he built a riverbank toll house to regulate shipping on the Danube and used it as a front to accumulate wealth by robbery from ships. Later, another dishonest baron, Georg von Stain, occupied the castle but in 1476 he was caught and expelled and was forced to surrender the castle. Duke Leopold III took over the castle in 1477. It was occupied with tenants and carers in order to stop the looting which had taken place on the river in previous decades.
In 1529, the castle was burned down by a group of Turks during the first Turkish siege of Vienna. It was rebuilt and provided with loopholes for defence with the help of artillery. In 1606, Anna Baroness acquired the castle, but after her death, the castle was neglected. In 1685, the castle became the property of Count Ernst Rüdiger von Starhemberg. Then in 1819, one of his descendants, Ludwig Josef Gregor von Starhemberg, sold the castle to Count Franz von Beroldingen who renovated the castle in the 19th century. The Beroldingen family owned the castle until 1930 when the estate and the ruins of Schönbühel Aggstein were sold to Count Oswald von Seilern Aspang.References:
Kroměříž stands on the site of an earlier ford across the River Morava. The gardens and castle of Kroměříž are an exceptionally complete and well-preserved example of a European Baroque princely residence and its gardens and described as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The first residence on the site was founded by bishop Stanislas Thurzo in 1497. The building was in a Late Gothic style, with a modicum of Renaissance detail. During the Thirty Years' War, the castle was sacked by the Swedish army (1643).
It was not until 1664 that a bishop from the powerful Liechtenstein family charged architect Filiberto Lucchese with renovating the palace in a Baroque style. The chief monument of Lucchese's work in Kroměříž is the Pleasure Garden in front of the castle. Upon Lucchese's death in 1666, Giovanni Pietro Tencalla completed his work on the formal garden and had the palace rebuilt in a style reminiscent of the Turinese school to which he belonged.
After the castle was gutted by a major fire in March 1752, Bishop Hamilton commissioned two leading imperial artists, Franz Anton Maulbertsch and Josef Stern, arrived at the residence in order to decorate the halls of the palace with their works. In addition to their paintings, the palace still houses an art collection, generally considered the second finest in the country, which includes Titian's last mythological painting, The Flaying of Marsyas. The largest part of the collection was acquired by Bishop Karel in Cologne in 1673. The palace also contains an outstanding musical archive and a library of 33,000 volumes.
UNESCO lists the palace and garden among the World Heritage Sites. As the nomination dossier explains, 'the castle is a good but not outstanding example of a type of aristocratic or princely residence that has survived widely in Europe. The Pleasure Garden, by contrast, is a very rare and largely intact example of a Baroque garden'. Apart from the formal parterres there is also a less formal nineteenth-century English garden, which sustained damage during floods in 1997.
Interiors of the palace were extensively used by Miloš Forman as a stand-in for Vienna's Hofburg Imperial Palace during filming of Amadeus (1984), based on the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who actually never visited Kroměříž. The main audience chamber was also used in the film Immortal Beloved (1994), in the piano concerto scene.