The first small Starhemberg castle was built by Ottokar III, Margrave of Styria between 1140 and 1145. At the time, the Piesting river was the border between Styria and the March of Austria. In 1192, Styria—and, thus, the castle—was acquired by the Babenbergs. The last Babenberger duke of Austria, Frederick II the Warlike, expanded and fortified the castle, leaving Starhemberg as one of the most important castles in Lower Austria in the 13th century. In wartime, the archives and the family treasure was hidden here, and were guarded by the Teutonic Knights.
After the Battle on the Marchfeld in 1278, the castle was acquired by the Habsburgs. In 1482, the castle was captured by Matthias Corvinus, king of Hungary. In 1683, the castle offered protection from the Turks to the surrounding population.
To escape a new roof-tax the counts of Heusenstamm around 1800 had the roof covering removed, as well as doors and window frames, beginning the decline of the castle. Around 1870, a large part of the great hall collapsed. Until the mid-20th century, the ruins were used for the extraction of construction materials by the local population.
In the spring of 1945 a unit of the Waffen-SS used the ruined tower above the chapel as an observation post. Russian artillery fire inflicted heavy damage to the walls.
In the second half of the 20th century a local organisation, Friends of the Castle Starhemberg, has sought to restore the ruins. Since 2007, the castle has been closed to visitors, for security.References:
The castle of La Iruela, small but astonishing, is located on the top of a steep crag in Sierra de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park. From the castle, impressive views of the surrounding area and of the town can be enjoyed.
The keep dates from the Christian era. It has a square base and small dimensions and is located at the highest part of the crag.
There are some other enclosures within the tower that create a small alcázar which is difficult to access.
In a lower area of the castle, protected with defensive remains of rammed earth and irregular masonry, is an old Muslim farmstead.
After a recent restoration, an open-air theater has been built on La Iruela castle enclosure. This theater is a tribute to the Greek and Classic Eras and holds various artistic and cultural shows throughout the year.
The first traces of human activity in La Iruela area are dated from the Copper Age. An intense occupation continued until the Bronze Age.
Originally, La Iruela (like Cazorla) was a modest farmstead. From the 11th century, a wall and a small fortress were built on the hill to protect the farmers.
Around 1231, don Rodrigo Ximénez de Rada, Archbishop of Toledo, conquered La Iruela and made it part of the Adelantamiento de Cazorla. Over the Muslim fortress, the current fortress was built.
Once the military use of the fortress ended, it was used as cemetery.