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:
Augustusburg Palace represents one of the first examples of Rococo creations in Germany. For the Cologne elector and archbishop Clemens August of the House of Wittelsbach it was the favourite residence. In 1725 the Westphalian architect Johann Conrad Schlaun was commissioned by Clemens August to begin the construction of the palace on the ruins of a medieval moated castle.
In 1728, the Bavarian court architect François de Cuvilliés took over and made the palace into one of the most glorious residences of its time. Until its completion in 1768, numerous outstanding artists of European renown contributed to its beauty. A prime example of the calibre of artists employed here is Balthasar Neumann, who created the design for the magnificent staircase, an enchanting creation full of dynamism and elegance. The magical interplay of architecture, sculpture, painting and garden design made the Brühl Palaces a masterpiece of German Rococo.
UNESCO honoured history and present of the Rococo Palaces by inscribing Augustusburg Palace – together with Falkenlust Palace and their extensive gardens – on the World Heritage List in 1984. From 1949 onwards, Augustusburg Palace was used for representative purposes by the German Federal President and the Federal Government for many decades.
In 1728, Dominique Girard designed the palace gardens according to French models. Owing to constant renovation and care, it is today one of the most authentic examples of 18th century garden design in Europe. Next to the Baroque gardens, Peter Joseph Lenné redesigned the forested areas based on English landscaping models. Today it is a wonderful place to have a walk.