Hochosterwitz Castle

Hochosterwitz, Austria

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.



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Founded: c. 860 AD
Category: Castles and fortifications in Austria


4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Amelia Marriette (2 years ago)
A great place to visit, it's rougher and more raw than I expected but it some ways that makes it more real too. The little garden is lovely and tranquil.
Mahdi Dehghan (2 years ago)
It's a nice fort/castle IF you are near here. I have been to a lot of castles and this one was interesting because of the way it was set-up for fortifications. Lifts were down but we didn't mind.
Pisák Tamás (2 years ago)
The castle is amazing place even from afar. Unfortunately our arrival date the castle was closed, because before 1 day was a huge storm in Austria and the electricity didn't work in the castle. For us it wasn't a problem, but the castle was not open on that day. Next time we will go inside if it's allowed. We're waiting for the opportunity. I upload some closer and further view of the castle, it's worth to visit, it's beautiful.
Octav Iosif (2 years ago)
Well worth the visit. The climb up is ok, but if you're a sedentary person you're better off taking the elevator up. You can walk down, it's a short walk and you get to see all the gatehouses. If you walk up instead of taking the elevator you can basically visit everything for free. There's a really nice museum, lots of armor and weapons. The restaurant upstairs looks to serve good food. Didn't eat anything, but what others were being served looked great.
Minnie Maxxie (2 years ago)
Good cardio workout. One hour and we almost completed to the top of the castle. 1.5 to 2hrs will be better not so rushed. The view is awesome the higher you go. Trail is pebbled and sometimes rocky. Best to watch your step as you walk along. Sports or good walking shoes recommended. There is an elevator option for the descent. You may buy the ticket at the entrance or pay 6€ at the shop when you come down. All the proceeds go to the maintenance and upkeep of the castle.
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