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, therefore the rulers and the Catholic Church of Austria have over the centuries constructed some heavenly architectural structures.
Inundated with historic buildings
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 find these historic buildings spread all over the country, from Vorarlberg to Burgenland. There are litterarly hundreds of castles and palaces in Austria, and you will never find yourself very far from one.
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 masters at finding good building sites and many of the castles are securely located on high ground, often with stunning views. Ergo, no matter what kind of interests you have, I recommend that you pay some of these fabulous historic 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.
Check out the Amazing Castles, Palaces and Monasteries we’ve visited below:
Installing a peace museum and peace institute in a castle is a bit of a contradiction – or maybe not. Notwithstanding, both the castle itself and the Peace Museum are worth a visit if you are in the region. The castle is only a small detour of 20 km off the A2 motorway between Vienna […]
Our first visit to Burg Deutschlandsberg was on a gray and cloudy day, which gave the castle a slightly scary appearance. This is probably the meaning of a castle anyway. We later visited the castle several times on lovely sunny summer days, when it showcases itself from a more welcoming side. Hotel, restaurant and museum […]
Already from a distance the formidable medieval fortress gives a powerful impression. Even after driving up the last slopes from the surrounding plain and to the parking lot, the cliff with the castle looms well above you. To get to the castle you can choose between hiking uphill through the 14 castle gates or take […]
If you are travelling on the A9 motorway from the south in the direction of Voralpenkreuz (A1) in the vincinity of Rottenmann, you cannot miss the castle at the top of the cliff. The red and white painted window shutters, defence walls and towers had fit well as a movie backdrop in a Hollywood movie. […]
The castle in Mauterndorf is not to be overlooked as it is located on a mountain cliff at the edge of the village. There has been a fortification on the site since 326 A.D. guarding the Roman trade route crossing the Tauern mountain pass. However, the castle itself is first mentioned in written records from […]
Any historical town with respect for itself should have a castle, and Feldkirch has the Schattenburg. Although there has been documented a settlement on-site for more than 2000 years, the “town” Feldkirch was built together with the castle in the early 13th century. We found the Schattenburg well worth the entrance fee and learned a […]
The small-town of Melk by the Danube receives tens of thousands of visitors each year who come to see the huge Melk Abbey. Regardless of whether you arrive at Melk Abbey by land or water, you cannot avoid being mightily impressed by the grande splendour of the monestary. 1000-year history Melk was for the first […]
Like so many other castles and palaces in Austria, this place has a fascinating history, a great location and is very well preserved. Hence, you really get a sense of the almost 1000-year history of Rosenburg. At Rosenburg, they focus on a varied program of activities for their visitors. One of the events that makes […]
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 […]
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 […]
First of all, the location of the castle, pearched 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 to life in the Middle Ages. That and the fantastic views of one of the mightiest rivers in Europe, […]
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 ruled Austria […]