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Aggstein Castle by the Danube

© by Österreich Werbung, Photo: Homberger

The mediaeval Aggstein Castle has a dramatic appearance, perched on a cliff 300 metres above the Danube River. It offers stunning views of the surrounding valleys and a great insight into life in the Middle Ages.

First of all, the location of the castle, perched on a rock above the Danube river, is out of this world. Secondly, although Aggstein Castle is only partly restored it still offers you a great insight into life in the Middle Ages. That and the fantastic views of one of the mightiest rivers in Europe make it well worth the trip up the mountain. Most parts of the castle are open to visitors. Wooden stairs and walkways make the unrestored parts safe to explore. Even if you do not have the slightest interest in mediaeval history or architecture, we do highly recommend visiting Aggstein Castle. Exploring the ruins while taking in the stunning views, might be more fun than you think.

Life at the castle

There are some hints of life in the Middle Ages to be seen all around the castle. We loved the still existing and restored rooms such as the Great Hall and the Chapel. Especially, the Great Hall gives you a hint of how lavishly the castle was decorated in its heydays. Use your imagination and put yourself in shining knight’s armour while touring the castle. Moreover, we found it rather amusing to sit in at a couple of mediaeval restrooms (loos with views), conveniently built into the outer walls. Nonetheless, what may seem like a rudimentary facility today was rare in those days, and mostly only available to nobility. For kids, the castle museum will spur their imagination, with its mix of history and fairy tale exhibitions. Moreover, we also found the models that showed the development of the Aggstein castle over 800 years, interesting.

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Guided tours

We found that exploring the castle on our own was fine. Nonetheless, to get the maximum out of your visit, joining a guided tour is smart. Aggstein Castle offers guided tours (in German and English), that takes about one hour (€ 4,50 per person). You can also take individual tours at your leisure and explore the parts that are of special interest to you. Just pick up an audio guide (€ 1,50 per person) at the entrance, which are also available in a children’s version. If you are hungry for a snack and maybe dinner, there is a restaurant at the castle, that has great views from some of its inside tables. Additionally, there is a pleasant courtyard where you can enjoy food and drink. The prices above are in addition to the entrance fee.


Turbulent history

The main thoroughfare since Roman times, the Danube has been important to Austria ever since. During the Middle Ages building a castle meant gaining both military and economic control of the region. Enduring a relatively turbulent history has made its marks on its structure. Aggstein Castle’s oldest parts are traced back to the 12th century. Destroyed and reconstructed several times, the castle’s appearance has changed throughout its history. In the 14th century, many of the features that you see today started to appear. In 1529, the Turks besieged the castle and ravaged it before leaving it in ruins for the next five centuries. In 2003 work began to restore the castle and make it into a tourist site.

Feasts and markets

Throughout the year, different events are taking place at Aggstein Castle, such as Mediaeval Feast, Easter Egg Hunt and Market days. The visiting season usually runs from March until November. You can park your car right outside the castle gates. Narrow and winding, but the road up to the castle is paved. Hence, if you don’t mind the hike up through the forest, you can also put your vehicle at the parking by the river beside the B33 state road.

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Written by Arnold Weisz

Globetrotting multilingual communications specialist born in Vienna, Austria – with passion for scuba diving, golf and culinary delights! 15 years of experience as a scuba- and travel reporter for among others: X-Ray Dive Magazine and Dykking.