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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Details

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

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Minnie Maxxie (26 days 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.
Katalin Nemes (38 days ago)
Good experience, view is beautiful. It's not worth choosing the elevator, it's an easy walk up. There is a little museum about the owner's family, a chapel and nice flowers everywhere.
Kylene Grell (3 months ago)
26 euros to get to the top via Elevator. Very excellent fairy tale castle with lots of gatehouses and battlements. A beautiful flower garden and a restaurant, but not a lot to do once you get there. There was a guide you could download on your phone but I didn't have phone signal at the castle. Guest wifi would be a nice cost effective touch. This castle is still family owned and that is pretty cool the slightly higher entry fee doubtless helps to make up for the lack of public funding.
ronaldjeden (Stoute Vader) (13 months ago)
Was very nice. Nice walk and interesting museum! Service at the restaurant on top could be improved though.
Andrejs Kostenko (14 months ago)
Look very good from outside! Like a fairytale. But inside nothing special. View from top also so so! Cost is 15 eur. I think that is too much for this castle.
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