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Medieval adventures at Mauterndorf Castle

Burg Mauterndorf

© by Österreich Werbung, Photo: Trumler

Burg Mauterndorf is far more than a historic stone structure. This is an adventure castle where you can enter the Middle Ages and experience life at the castle as it was 500 years ago.

The castle in Mauterndorf is not to be overlooked as it is located on a mountain cliff at the edge of the village. The site has been fortified 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 1253. The castle and the village of Mauterndorf got their name from the German word “maut”, which means toll/fee.

Risky business

Precious items such as salt, wheat flour, grain, wine and spices were transported along the ancient Roman trade routes over the Tauern mountains for over 1000 years after they first emerged in Roman times. Nonetheless, it was not entirely safe for those who transported the goods. Unforeseen weather changes, rough terrain and criminals made the trade across the Alps risky. From 1002, all traders who used the route across the Tauern Pass and passed Mauterndorf Castle had to pay a fee or toll (maut). This was a common way of making an income for the local strongmen.

Summer residence

Mauterndorf Castle was used in the 16th century by Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach as a summer residence. The castle belonged to the Archdiocese of Salzburg and was used as one of their administrative centres until 1806. Moreover, the autonomous Archdiocese of Salzburg was associated with Habsburg Austria but was not incorporated into the empire until 1803. After nearly 200 years of decay, an extensive renovation of the Mauterndorf Castle was carried out in the early 1980s, and consequently, an adventure castle of a unique character emerged.

Adventure castle

We recommend taking a tour of the castle. Join the guided tour to get a good insight into life on the castle in the Middle Ages. If guided tours aren’t your thing, you can do it alone. The entrance ticket includes a so-called “audio guide” (available in several languages). It is easy to operate, and you can take the tour at your own pace. It usually takes about an hour. One of the highlights of the tour through the castle is the 44-meter-tall keep. With six floors, the tower has been recreated and furnished with several rooms/floors as they would have appeared in the Middle Ages. I liked that the exhibits are not closed off by either glass or chain, making it possible to look closer. Moreover, it improves the whole experience, and it is easier to understand how life was around 4-500 years ago.

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Dress up as a knight or a princess.

The exhibitions at the Mauterndorf Castle are far more than artefacts behind glass. Using relatively lifelike manikins, you can observe different scenes from everyday life on the castle hundreds of years ago. You will find the archbishop in his bathtub, the castle cook preparing food, the blacksmith swinging his hammer or a trader with his horse and carriage getting ready in the courtyard. There are various activities for children around the castle. The whole family can borrow clothing from the medieval wardrobe and dress as anything from jokes, bishops, and princesses to knights. Experience one of the last three existing toll stations along the famous Roman trade route, “Via Imperialis”, Mauterndorf Castle – an experience the whole family can enjoy.

Medieval feast

After the tour, you do not need to end your visit to the Middle Ages. The castle’s Burgschenke (restaurant) offers medieval meals with period dishes, and of course, all guests must be dressed up in medieval costumes. Furthermore, the restaurant host himself takes part and makes this an unforgettable experience and great fun. For those who want to enjoy good traditional food from the region or a coffee cup, this is offered in the restaurant inside the castle or out on the sun terrace.

For more info se Mauterndorf Tourism
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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.