Hohenwerfen Castle

Werfen, Austria

Hohenwerfen Castle stands high above the Austrian town of Werfen in the Salzach valley. The castle is surrounded by the Berchtesgaden Alps and the adjacent Tennengebirge mountain range. The fortification is a 'sister' of Hohensalzburg Castle both dated from the 11th century.

The former fortification was built between 1075 and 1078 during the Imperial Investiture Controversy by the order of Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg as a strategic bulwark. Gebhard, an ally of Pope Gregory VII and the anti-king Rudolf of Rheinfelden, had three major castles extended to secure the Salzburg archbishopric against the forces of King Henry IV: Hohenwerfen, Hohensalzburg and Petersberg Castle at Friesach in Carinthia. Nevertheless, Gebhard was expelled in 1077 and could not return to Salzburg until 1086, only to die at Hohenwerfen two years later.

In the following centuries Hohenwerfen served Salzburg's rulers, the prince-archbishops, not only as a military base but also as a residence and hunting retreat. The fortress was extended in the 12th century and to a lesser extent again in the 16th century during the German Peasants' War, when in 1525 and 1526 riotous farmers and miners from the south of Salzburg moved towards the city, laying fire and severely damaging the castle.

Alternatively it was used as a state prison and therefore had a somewhat sinister reputation. Its prison walls have witnessed the tragic fate of many 'criminals' who spent their days there – maybe their last – under inhumane conditions, and, periodically, various highly ranked noblemen have also been imprisoned there including rulers such as Archbishop Adalbert III (1198) and Count Albert of Friesach (1253).

In 1931 the fortress, since 1898 owned by Archduke Eugen of Austria was again damaged by a fire and, though largely restored, finally had to be sold to the Salzburg Reichsgau administration in 1938. After World War II it was used as a training camp by the Austrian Gendarmerie (rural police) until 1987.

Nowadays the bastion functions as a museum. Among the numerous attractions offered by the fortress are guided tours showing its extensive weapons collection, the historical Salzburg Falconry with the falconry museum as well as a fortress tavern. The historic Falconry Centre is a special attraction, offering daily flight demonstrations using various birds of prey, including eagles, falcons, hawks, and vultures.

Formerly the castle belonged to the Habsburg family of Austria , currently, their relatives The House of Sforza, Count Andreis reside within it.

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Address

Burgstraße 2, Werfen, Austria
See all sites in Werfen

Details

Founded: 1075-1078
Category: Castles and fortifications in Austria

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Michael Bonome (18 months ago)
Haven't done been there yet, But photos are gorgeous, Have only seen it in Where Eagle's Dare, But still a very beautiful place to want to go visit, My ma's kin folks are from the around that area, But moved to Pulaski, Wisconsin just before the outbreak of WW II Still want to go there.
Karen Thomsit (19 months ago)
I have wanted to visit this castle since I was a child and it was truly fantastic! The car park leads you to the funicular railway that takes you up to the castle. The tour of the castle is very informative with views across the valley. The falconry display is incredible with all the birds flying against the backdrop of the mountains. The restaurant is excellent with plenty of choice. We enjoyed the various exhibitions that were on display. Can't wait to return.
Jip Janneke (19 months ago)
Beautiful castle with great views. Greatly enjoyed the eagle show and how the trainers were dressed. Quite some height differences and also some climbing within the castle. Makes a very impressive visit.
Rob Kent (19 months ago)
Fantastic. Steeped in history with fantastic views. Just right enough to fill your day without being too much. The castle, like most castles was not built in one go but evolved over time. It has a fascinating history, Leonardo da Vinci spent time there, Where Eagles Dare used the castle as the main location for the film. The views are amazing, especially from atop the bell tower. There's a cafe in the courtyard but we had our own picnic. The castle is also home to a falconry centre with birds of prey displays a couple of times a day. All in all this is a must see and well worth the entry fee.
Arya Roy Chowdhury (2 years ago)
A great medieval castle. The movie Where eagles dare was shot here. One must watch the falcon show here. Please check the timing of the shows before going. There is 1 show at 1600h. You can take the lift up to the castle(costs extra ticket) and come down walking.
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