The 10 Most Beautiful Castles In Austria
Festung Hohensalzburg | © Sarah Leo/Flickr
Everywhere in Austria it seems there are palaces, castles, forts and ruins. All of these buildings have an interesting story to tell, and it is quite impossible to avoid them during a visit in Austria; a country full of culture and history. Explore the most beautiful castles in Austria with us.
Originally, it was intended to be a magnificent hunting lodge for the heir to the throne, Joseph I. Begining in 1743, under the reign of Empress Maria Theresia, the castle and its park were extended and renovated into the form we know them today. Between the middle of the 18th century and the First World War, Schloss Schönbrunn was the summer residence of the Austrian imperial family, and the political center of an empire during the hotter months. It is the biggest castle in Austria, and, since 1996, a UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Today, because of its beautiful park, it serves as local holiday area for the inhabitants of Vienna, and as a tourist attraction, and every year guests will find there the beautiful Easter and Christmas Markets.
Schönbrunner Schlossstraße 47, Vienna, Austria, +43 1 811 132 39
Schloss Schönbrunn | © Cha già José/Flickr
The first time this castle was mentioned in an historical record was in 909, and it is therefore one of the oldest buildings in the area of the Salzkammergut. The first owners of Schloss Ort was Hartnidus of Ort (who founded a castle on the site in 1080), but in 1483 it became property of the Habsburg family. It has changed owners regularly, and today it is property of the city. Today, you will find there a school for agriculture and forestry, a restaurant and a souvenir shop. From 1996 to 2004 it was the main location for the popular Austrian television series Schlosshotel Orth. Sometimes, there are different events, like concerts and readings, and it is also a popular place for weddings.
Ort 1, Gmunden, Austria, +43 676 887 942 80
It is said that Riegersburg is one of the strongest forts in the Occident. In all these past centuries it was never conquered, and today it is a popular place for tourists and locals. Nowadays, it is easier to access the fort, and the walk up the hill is like an adventure. The walls, with their embrasures, tell the history of the castle’s past while you are get higher and closer to the Riegersburg. It is the perfect place for anybody who is interested in historical guided tours, the myths and legends of witches and birds of prey displays.
Riegersburg, Austria, + 43 0 3153 8670
Riegersburg © Rinaldo Wurglitsch/Flickr
Because of its location, close to the capital city of Vienna and the Danube, and at a point that it is set on a high ground in the forest, this castle had a very powerful weir system. Also, a lot of movies have been shot here, such as The Three Musketeers (1993) and Season Of The Witch (2011) with Nicholas Cage. Today, the castle is a popular destination for the Viennese and tourists alike. Burg Kreuzenstein has an interesting museum and an eagle station with spectacular shows.
Leobendorf, Austria, +43 2264 7291
Burg Kreuzenstein © Uwe Brodrecht/Flickr
In 1647, the family of Esterházy came into possession of the Schloss Esterházy, which was by then a fairly old castle. It is still the property of the family and a popular visitor attraction in the easternmost province of Austria. The most famous room of the palace is the historic banquet hall, which is named Haydn Hall. Joseph Haydn worked in the 18th century for thirty years as conductor for the princely family. And nowadays there is also the Haydn Festival, which is a beautiful classical music festival.
Schloss Esterházy © gi_born134/Flickr
Until 1918 this castle was the political center of Austria’s monarchy, and it is located in the capital city of Vienna. It was the place were the Wiener Kongress met, and still is the center for political businesses, and the official seat of the president of the Republic of Austria. There are several buildings which form the Hofburg, not just the home of the president, and cultural institutions are also located there. The Spanische Hofreitschule, the court’s school for its horses, is one example, which is known around the world, or the Austrian National Library.
Hofburg © Alistair Young/Flickr
Empress Elisabeth called it the ‘Palace of Dreams’. The Hermesvilla was a present from her husband, Emperor Franz Joseph, in the hope that he could keep Elisabeth (who loved to travel) more often in Vienna. The palace is located in the Lainzer Tiergarten, which was a area for hunting, and is now a nature reserve. Today, visitors get a deep insight into the history of the house and the private life of the imperial couple. It is used as museum and restaurant, with a beautiful park.
Lainzer Tiergarten, Vienna, Austria, +43 1 804 13 24
Burg Hochosterwitz is located on an 150 meter-high rock. It is the main landmark of the southern province of Carinthia, and was first mentioned in about 860 AD. It was the property of the Schenk von Osterwitz family, and, after their last descendant died, Emperor Friedrich III became the owner. In the 16th century, it was a present for the Carinthian head of provincial government. Today, it is a popular place for historical-based excursions.
Hochosterwitz 1, Launsdorf, Austria, +43 4213 2020
Burg Hochosterwitz © Marc St/Flickr
Both buildings were built in the 18th century for prince Eugen von Savoyen, as his summer residence. The name Belvedere comes from Italian, and means ‘beautiful view’, and there is definitely one from both the Oberes Belvedere, located on the top of the hill and which served for official matters, and the Unteres Belvedere, which is down the hill and smaller. Today, the Belvedere keeps the most important national collection of Austrian art, from the Middle Ages to the present day, expanded by international artists.
Prinz Eugen-Straße 27, Vienna, Austria, +43 1 795 571 34
Belvedere © Harry Pammer/Flickr
On the top of a mountain rises the Festung Hohensalzburg; the castle is a fixed part of the skyline of the beautiful city of Salzburg. It is one of Europe’s biggest existing castles from the 11th century. This impressive building protected the principality and local bishops, and was a symbol of their political might. Today, it is used for music concerts and is a popular tourist attraction.
Festung Hohensalzburg © gi_born134/Flickr