Olavinlinna ("St. Olaf's Castle" or "Olofsborg") is one of the greatest medieval castles in Finland. It was built to secure the eastern border of the Kingdom of Sweden-Finland. The construction started in 1475 by Erik Axelsson Tott. Russians disturbed construction work sequently, because the castle was sited in Savonia to the Russian side of the border established by the Treaty of Nöteborg. Olavinlinna was completed probably in 1483 and there were first a main castle and three towers (Church Tower, Bell Tower and St. Erik's Towers).
Olavinlinna withstood several sieges by the Russians during the First and Second Russian-Swedish wars. Gustav Vasa ordered to erect fourth tower (a "Fat Tower") in 16th century and fifth ("Kilj Tower") was built in the 17th century. The castle was conquered first time by the invading Russians in Great Northern War on 28 July 1714. St. Erik's Tower was badly damaged in cannon fire and Russians demolished it. Olavinlinna was returned to Swedish in Treaty of Uusikaupunki, but they lost it constanly only 23 years later in the end of the Russo-Swedish War of 1741-1743.
Russians enhanced Olavinlinna fortifications and it withstood the siege of Swedish in the war of Gustav III in 1788. The Fat Tower was destroyed in an explosion of gunpowder supply in 1791. When Russians occupied Finland in 1809, Olavinlinna lost its defensive status. It was used as garrison, storage and prison and was abandoded in 1850s. Renovation was started in the end of the 19th century.
Currently, the castle hosts several small exhibitions, including the Castle Museum which displays artifacts found in the castle or related to it, and the Orthodox Museum which displays icons and other religious artifacts both from Finland and Russia. The castle forms a spectacular stage for the Savonlinna Opera Festival, held annually in the summer since 1912.
Olavinlinna is the initial model for Kropow Castle in the comic book King Ottokar's Sceptre, an album in the series of Adventures of Tintin created by Hergé.
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.