Kobersdorf castle was built in 1528 to the site of moated fortress from the 13th century. The history of original castle dates back to the age of Ludwig the German (806-876). The first document of Kobersdorf castle dates from 1229. The fortress withstood the first siege in 1270. 10 years later it was conquered, also 1289 after it was successfully recaptured. Finally, Duke Albrecht I and King Ándrás III concluded the peace treaty of Hainburg in 1291.
In 1319, King Karl Robert sold the estates to Count Simon II of Forchtenstein-Mattersburg. His father and uncle were the brothers of Tota, a spanish court lady of the hungarian King. Both of them have proved themselves in the spanish reconquista and were therefore allowed to wear the spanish eagle in their coat of arms.
About 1430, the artistic decoration of the fortress, from which only the baptistery remained, was made by Count Wilhelm Forchtenstein-Mattersburg, who also changed the main residence of the family from Forchtenstein to Kobersdorf. 1445, Wilhelm put the estates in pawn to the austrish Duke Albrecht VI, who in turn sold the fortress 1451 to his brother, emperor Friedrich III. When Wilhelm died in 1466, he left two daughters. According to the law, the estates has to be given back to the Hungarian Kingdom. But abiding the agreement on ceasefire of 1447, in which Albrecht VI was certified in the posession of Kobersdorf, the estates now were for the first time under Austrian rule.
In 1458 Matthias Corvinus, King of Hungary, conquered Kobersdorf, but according to the peace of Sopron 1463, the fortress remains in the Hands of Austria. Nevertheless, when count Wilhelm Forchtenstein died in 1466, Corvinus gave Kobersdorf to Weisspriach as a present, in consequence of their unfaithfulness for the Habsburg emperor.
The rampart in westward direction and a bigger chapel were erected in 1482. Both of the buildings were held in the style of the late gothic.
In 1529, the Weisspriach family enlarged the fortress of Kobersdorf to a castle and extend the rampart in the style of renaissance. However, in 1683 the turks captured the castle. They ordered the demolishing of the fortress, which existed until then besides the castle.
In 1704, Franz Kéry sold the estate to his brother-in-law Paul I. Fürst Esterházy. Henceforth, the castle lost its function as an residence. This, on the one hand, causes the preservation of the architectural style, but on the other hand, the castle got more and more derelicted. 1809 it was a quarter for french officers, 1876, a fire destroyed the roof, 1914 and 1942-45 a military prison, and 1945-47, a quarter for the russian red army.
Today the castle is known as a location of concerts, exhibitions and seminars. Parts of the castle can be rented for weddings and celebrations. By agreement, guided visitations are possible.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.