The Imperial family once used Halbturn Palace, Burgenland’s most important Baroque building, as a hunting lodge and summer palace. The palace, in northern Burgenland, and its splendid parklands, is regarded as one of Burgenland’s most esteemed historic attractions.
Halbturn palace was built in 1711 during the reign of Emperor Charles VI by Lucas von Hildebrandt, one of the most important Austrian figures in late baroque architecture. It has gone through good times and bad. Its heyday may well have been the epoch shown in an oil painting from the middle of the 18th century. During the first Turkish siege the imperial stud had been destroyed. The Halbturn estate was mortgaged for several years and passed back into imperial-royal ownership under Emperor Charles VI. After the death of Emperor Charles VI his daughter, Maria Theresia, succeeded to the throne on account of the Pragmatic Sanction of 1740.
In 1765 Maria Theresia acquired Halbturn Palace, part of the estate of Hungarian Altenburg at the time, from the Hungarian crown. She gave it as private property to her favourite daughter, Archduchess Marie Christine, as a present for her wedding to Duke Albert-Casimir von Sachsen-Teschen. For this occasion the baroque artist Anton Maulbertsch was also commissioned to paint the ceiling fresco, “Triumph of Light”.
Halbturn Palace offers a varied programme of art, culture, wine and gourmet food all year round. Fascinating annual exhibitions, high quality concert series, various summer events and the famous Pannonian Christmas Market in the historical setting of the palace draw thousands of visitors and tourists from home and abroad every year.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.