Ort castle was founded around 1080 by Hartnidus of Ort, and improvements continued to be made into the thirteenth century - for example by Hartnidus V in 1244. In 1344 the brothers Friedrich and Reinprecht I of Wallsee purchased the castle, which became Friedrich’s sole possession on January 25, 1350. The castle remained in the possession of the Wallsee family until 1483, when Schloss Ort passed to Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor.
From 1484 to 1491, the castle was governed by Gotthard von Starhenberg, the Governor of Upper Austria. In 1492, Bernhard of Starhenberg and later his descendants ruled the castle until 1584. In 1588, the castle was purchased by Weikhard Freiherr of Pollheim, but he sold the castle on April 6, 1595 to the city of Gmunden. However, Gmunden sold the castle to Rudolf II that same year. The castle then passed to other owners before finally being acquired by Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor.
In 1876, the castle was acquired by Archduke John Salvator of Austria (John of Tuscany) (1852 – ca. 1911), but on October 6, 1889, he renounced his title and connections to the Habsburg imperial house and changed his name to Johann Orth, the tenth and last child of Grand Duke Leopold II of Tuscany and Maria Antonietta of the Two Sicilies departing for South America in 1890 with his morganatic wife on his own ship, the St. Margaret. Johann Nepomuk Salvator was presumed lost at sea in 1890, and declared dead in 1911, but his actual date of death is unknown.
The castle was acquired by Franz Joseph I of Austria in 1914, and it was intended for students of Gmunden’s schools to be allowed to visit the castle, but this plan was interrupted by World War I.
At present the castle is being used for a study center of the Federal Ministry for Land and Forestry. On January 5, 1995, the castle was officially acquired by the city of Gmunden.References:
Sirmione castle was built near the end of the 12th century as part of a defensive network surrounding Verona. The castle was maintained and extended first as part of the Veronese protection against their rivals in Milan and later under the control of the Venetian inland empire. The massive fortress is totally surrounded by water and has an inner porch which houses a Roman and Medieval lapidary. From the drawbridge, a staircase leads to the walkways above the walls, providing a marvellous view of the harbour that once sheltered the Scaliger fleet. The doors were fitted with a variety of locking systems, including a drawbridge for horses, carriages and pedestrians, a metal grate and, more recently, double hinged doors. Venice conquered Sirmione in 1405, immediately adopting provisions to render the fortress even more secure, fortifying its outer walls and widening the harbour.
Thanks to its strategical geographical location as a border outpost, Sirmione became a crucial defence and control garrison for the ruling nobles, retaining this function until the 16th century, when its role was taken up by Peschiera del Garda.