Riegersburg Castle is a medieval castle situated on a dormant volcano above the town of Riegersburg. The castle is owned by the Princely Family of Liechtenstein and contains a museum with changing exhibitions.
The castle was built on a hill which had once been an ancient volcano. To be precise, it is the petrified remains of the solidified molten interior, a volcanic neck of a large stratovolcano that probably became extinct two or so million years ago, like other similar hills in north-central Europe. The peak is at 482 meters above sea level. The ancient basalt of the hill was used to build the castle.
People have been living in the area around Riegersburg for a few thousand years. A large village was founded in the 9th century BC. with 300 people living here. Later, from 15 BC. until 476 AD. the region was part of the Roman Empire. In the 3rd and 9th century Bavarians immigrated and Hungarians invaded from the East. It was the beginning of a long time of armed conflicts. The history of the castle begins in the year 1122. The first knight who is known to have lived there is Rudiger von Hohenberg. Over the centuries the castle had many different owners, but only few played an important role. Among the later owners is the family of the Walseer who had feud with the sovereign of Styria in 1415. The most important owner was the baroness Katharina Elisabeth von Wechsler, who married Galler and who was known as Gallerin. Between 1637 and 1653 she finished the castle, making it one of the biggest and strongest castles in the country.
The castle is surrounded by 2 miles of walls with 5 gates and 2 trenches and it contains 108 rooms. In the 17th century the border with the Ottoman Empire was sometimes only 20 to 25 km away from the castle and the area was troubled by conflicts with the Turks and Hungarians. The castle was a safe place for the people nearby, sometimes offering refuge inside its walls for a few thousand. Lady Gallerin married three times and had one daughter who married a Count Purgstall. The castle passed to the Purgstall family, who died out around 1800. In 1822, the castle was bought by Sovereign Johann Josef von Liechtenstein. It has belonged to the von Liechtenstein family until the present day. The castle was taken by the 10th Guards Rifle Division of Soviet forces advancing towards Graz on 8 May 1945.
The castle is owned by the Princely Family of Liechtenstein, who live down the village in a house. The castle serves as a museum, with 25 out of the 108 rooms being opened for visiting. Sixteen of the rooms show the history of Riegersburg Castle and nine deal with witches and sorcerers.References:
Medvedgrad is a medieval fortified town located on the south slopes of Medvednica mountain, approximately halfway from the Croatian capital Zagreb to the mountain top Sljeme. For defensive purposes it was built on a hill, Mali Plazur, that is a spur of the main ridge of the mountain that overlooks the city. On a clear day the castle can be seen from far away, especially the high main tower. Below the main tower of the castle is Oltar Domovine (Altar of the homeland) which is dedicated to Croatian soldiers killed in the Croatian War of Independence.
In 1242, Mongols invaded Zagreb. The city was destroyed and burned to the ground. This prompted the building of Medvedgrad. Encouraged by Pope Innocent IV, Philip Türje, bishop of Zagreb, built the fortress between 1249 and 1254. It was later owned by bans of Slavonia. Notable Croatian and Hungarian poet and ban of Slavonia Janus Pannonius (Ivan Česmički) died in the Medvedgrad castle on March 27, 1472.
The last Medvedgrad owners and inhabitants was the Gregorijanec family, who gained possession of Medvedgrad in 1562. In 1574, the walls of Medvedgrad were reinforced, but after the 1590 Neulengbach earthquake, the fortress was heavily damaged and ultimately abandoned. It remained in ruins until the late 20th century, when it was partly restored and now offers a panoramic view of the city from an altitude of over 500 meters.