The Schnitzturm is a stone tower in the municipality of Stansstad. The first fortification along the lake shore was the Teller, a wooden block building and wall built out in Lake Lucerne and dendrochronologically dated to 1206/07. In the late 13th or early 14th centuries the tower was built on an artificial spit which projected out into the lake as part of the defenses around Stansstad. In addition to the Schnitzturm, a defensive wall or palisade consisting of about 8,000 wooden pillars driven into the lake at a depth of about 2 m. The palisade had a channel in it, known as the Grendel, to allow boats to enter the harbor. Exactly when the tower was first built is unknown, but it appears in a 1428 chronicle of the 1315 Battle of Morgarten. According to the chronicle, during an attack of Habsburg troops from Lucerne, an enemy ship was destroyed by a mill stone launched from the tower. Despite the efforts of the defenders, the attackers broke through and Stansstad was plundered. After the 1315 attack, the defenses were strengthened with earthen and stone walls and ditches along the shore.
The Schnitzturm and other defenses lost their importance after 1332 when Lucerne joined the Old Swiss Confederacy. The palisade was not repaired as the posts rotted away. After the division of Unterwalden into Obwalden and Nidwalden in the 1350s, both successor half-cantons were responsible for upkeep of the defenses at Stansstad. This arraignment proved to be problematic and by 1587 the tower had fallen into disrepair. In that year, a special Landsgemeinde decided to repair the tower. The project took about two years and completely renovated the tower. The round arch windows were added as was the current entrance on the south side at ground level. The original entrance on the second floor corner was closed off. A flat hipped roof was built on top of the tower.
The roof was damaged by lightning in 1634 and only partly repaired in the following year. The interior was soon destroyed by the leaky roof and the tower began to be used to dry fishing nets. It was repaired again by Obwalden in 1736. The last military use of the tower was during the 1798 French invasion. The palisade was hastily replaced with floating fir tree trunks and the Schnitzturm was manned. They held off the French fleet for several days, but on 9 April 1798 French troops broke through on the land side and captured the town. The town and the tower were burned by the victorious soldiers. In 1880 the cantonal authorities repaired the tower, built a staircase and observation platform and readded the crenelations that existed before the 1635 roof.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.