Rosenburg castle is one of Austria's most visited Renaissance castles. It is situated in the middle of a nature reserve which adds to its appeal. The Rosenburg was mentioned in a document for the first time in 1175, in relation to the area of the border along the Kamp River between Poigreich and the Babenberg settlements with the centres, the Benedictine Altenburg Abbey and the Gars-Thunau castle complex.
The Grabner brothers acquired the Rosenburg in 1487. From 1593–97, under the rule and by order of Sebastian Grabner, a Lutheran, most of the Gothic Rosenburg was demolished and the castle was reconstructed in Renaissance style with 13 towers. The Rosenburg remained in the possession of the Grabner family until 1604.
Finally, the Rosenburg became the property of the House of Sprinzenstein. A period of neglect followed, then several tragedies struck. Lightning caused a fire in 1721, and another fire broke out in 1751 which destroyed part of the courtyard gate and the chapel. In 1800, another fire damaged the Rosenburg; it was barely used for some 60 years thereafter. Fortunately, the Romantic Era caused a renewed interest in castles, and the castle was renovated by Count Ernst Carl von Hoyos-Sprinzenstein senior rebuilt the castle at great personal expense between 1859 and 1889. The castle is now a museum.References:
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.