Austria has hundreds of castles, palaces and monasteries spread out from Bregenz to the west to Hainburg to in the east. The nobles, clergy and military have firmly put their stamp on Austria’s cultural landscape over the centuries.
These amazing constructions are not only historical and architectural gems but also offer visitors a variety of activities. Whether they are in state, private, clerical or company ownership, the castles, palaces and monasteries are often open to the public. A few castles and palaces are still private homes and therefor completely off limits to the public.
In the middle of Europe
Most of the towns and cities in Austria arose during the Middle Ages (about 500 – 1500 AD). With them came many amazing castles, palaces and monasteries. Many of the towns were besides political power centres also a source of income that generated revenue for their feudal lords. Therefore, many of the most beautiful historic towns and cities are found alongside trade routes and at mountain passes. Parts of the land that currently lies within the boundaries of modern Austrian were part of the German-Roman Empire. As the empire took shape and the ruling class amassed their fortunes, they used some of their funds to build some amazing castles, palaces and monasteries. Moreover, no one could rule without an affiliation with the church, therefor the rules and the Catholic Church of Austria has over the centuries constructed some heavenly architectural structures. Austria’s location in the middle of the cultural melting pot of Europe was perfect for a landscape dotted by fantastic palaces, castles and monasteries.
You can get married at a baroque palace, have a gourmet dinner in a monastery and enjoy extravagant accommodation in a castle. If this is not enough, you can immerse yourself in life as a knight, nobility or monk. These are just a few experiences you can enjoy by visiting some of Austria’s countless castles, palaces and monasteries. Many of these historic structures are incredibly well-preserved and carefully restored. Some can only be visited on guided tours, while others can be seen at your own leisure. Nonetheless, do indeed use some Euros more on a guide to get most out of your visit.
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Location, location, location
The historical structures are in quite different conditions, some of which only are ruins, while others are very well restored or maintained. Location was, now as then, an important factor when constructing these fabulous historic buildings. Some castles, palaces or monasteries you find smack in the middle of towns, while others are located in high above the surrounding the landscape, while others again are in more secluded locations. The builders were also good at finding good sites and especially many of the castles are securely located on high ground, often with stunning views. No matter what interests you have, I recommend that you pay some of these cultural monuments a visit.
We have visited a few of the many castles, monasteries and palaces in Austria, and many more are on the list to be visited. The list below has in no way ranked the places but is put together in a random order. All the places have their special charm and we have picked out places spread throughout Austria and, which we think are nice excursion for both young and old.
Tratzberg Castle has overlooked the Inn Valley since the 13th century from its perfect hillside location, less than a kilometre from the river Inn. After Tyrol’s independency from the Duchy of Bavaria in the 12th century, the local noblemen needed strongholds to defend their newly acquired freedom. Thus, a fortress was constructed at a strategic […]
Although Aggstein Castle is only partly restored it offers you an insight to life in the Middle Ages. Furthermore, the fantastic views of one of the mightiest rivers in Europe, the Danube, also makes it well worth the trip up the mountain. Most parts of the castle are open to visitors. Wooden stairs and walkways […]
From whatever direction you arrive, the Riegersburg Castle firmly stands out sitting on top of a volcanic peak 480 metres above sea-level. Don’t worry the volcano has been extinct a couple of million years. If you love castles and the Middle Age this one is a must visit. Location, location, location The knights of the […]
Since I grew up in the Meidling district where you find Schönbrunn Palace, I spent a lot of time as a child in the vast gardens of the imperial palace. As a four year old I was relatively unaffected by the fact that I was playing in the garden of the mighty Habsburg dynasty, who […]