Riegersburg Castle

Riegersburg, Austria

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.



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Founded: 1122
Category: Castles and fortifications in Austria


4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Bankin Alo (18 months ago)
Gonna visit it one more time with my sister this summer
Suvendu Das (19 months ago)
Castle Musuem The museum in the State Rooms offers a multimedia journey into the history of Riegersburg in the 17th century. Two women's fates in the time of the Turkish wars, Frondienst and Hexenwahn but also baroque love of life and festive culture. Elisabeth Katharina von Galler , castle lord from 1637 to 1672, went down in history because of her unconventional life as the "bad Liesl". The mere fact that the Gaul woman did not fit into the tight corset of norms in which women were pressed in the seventeenth century, but led a self-determined life, was reason enough for such a nickname. In numerous processes, she had to defend her fiercely contested position as castle lord in a male-dominated society. The fate of Katharina Paldauf , a servant of the Gallerin, leads to the dispute with one of the darkest chapters in the history of Eastern Styria, the great Feldbacher witch trial, one of about 200 Styrian witch trials. Katharina Paldauf, still trivialized as the "flower witch", was one of the victims who were executed on suspicion of hail and weather to destroy the harvest of the peasants. No wonder that these two fates provided fertile breeding ground for a rich legends and that the "legendary" stories about the two women are now better known than their true counterparts. But also the contrast of noble life and baroque abundance on the one hand and poverty, superstition and Turkish war on the other hand becomes clear in the castle museum. Room, video and sound installations allow a combination of experience and experience. Witch Musuem The witch museum goes back to the Styrian national exhibition "witches and magicians" in 1987 . This national exhibition was one of the most successful of all times with approximately 360,000 visitors. The topic was well chosen and the relation to the Riegersburg certainly exists. In the years 1673 - 1675 the biggest witch trial in Styria had been conducted at the district court Feldbach and among the approximately 95 men and women accused was also Katharina Paldauf, the castle keeper's wife of the Riegersburg, which became known as the "flower witch". In 1988 , the exhibition was reduced to about half of the rooms and successfully continued as a "witch museum". On the occasion of 30 years of witches and wizards , the witches museum was completely rebuilt and modernized this year. The opening took place on April 30 and May 1, 2017 , with great interest from visitors . Arms Museum The collection of weapons, consisting of armor and armor parts, sabers and swords, various bat and stabbing weapons, rifles of various types, pistols, etc., was previously in Burgzeughaus and in depots. Only a small part of it was shown in the castle museum, which often gave the false impression that there are only a few weapons. In fact, the collection of weapons is very extensive, it includes objects from the late Middle Ages, 15th century, to the early modern period, the 17th century. It is not surprising that this epoch is the most present, as the Riegersburg was known at that time as the "strongest fortress of Christianity".
James Schnorr (20 months ago)
An amazing view, I walked up from the bottom just to explore at the top. Probably a little rough for elderly people but it was amazing. 6 euros to walk up, entering costs 10 more, bird show another twelve on top of that
Steven Jooste (2 years ago)
I really enjoyed my visit to the castle. There was lots to see and with various exhibits. They had a printout in English that was a great help to identify the rooms and history for each section. The view from the top is absolutely breathtaking. I found overall the place was well maintained and very interesting.
Gego H. (2 years ago)
Beautiful castle with exhibitions of life and weapons and a special exhibition on witches. Further there is an amazing eagle and birds of prey show to watch!
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