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Schattenburg – the landmark of Feldkirch

© by Ana Lucia Marcos

This well-preserved medieval castle towers over the town of Feldkirch in Vorarlberg. We recommend a tour of the castle’s museum before exploring lovely historic Feldkirch.

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 lot about life in the Middle Age’s in a region. Hence, let’s have a quick look at what the castle has experienced throughout the centuries.

Occupied by the Swedes

Schattenburg is one of Austria’s best-preserved medieval castles. In the 15th century, the castle was involved in several wars. Moreover, it was destroyed and rebuilt several times. In 1647, the town Feldkirch and the Schattenburg were occupied by Swedish troops, who participated in the Thirty Years’ War and fought against French forces in the area. The Swedes did fare nicely with their foes’ and demanded not only war reparations but also that the  local inhabitants maintain the castle. However, in 1648 the war was over and the Swedes went home.

Barracks and poorhouse

In the 18th century, mediaeval castles had largely outplayed their function as both residences of the noble and as military installations, and many were abandoned. There are more ruins of castles in Austria than there are well-preserved ones. Fortunately, Schattenburg was rescued from ruin and taken over by the town of Feldkirch in 1825. Before the castle was finally converted into a museum and historic building, it served as military barracks and poorhouse during the 1800s. Today Schattenburg houses far more peaceful and less sinister tenants, a museum and a restaurant.

Interesting museum

We visited the castle one morning during the week, and apart from a children’s school class, we had the place to ourselves. You don’t have to be super interested in medieval history to enjoy a tour around the castle and museum for an hour or two. Moreover, most of the museum is devoted to life at the castle over the last centuries. Moreover, a great deal of the interior is still original. We also enjoyed the exhibitions that do not have a direct connection with the castle itself, such as a “lock museum” and a large collection of weapons. Furthermore, some of the exhibits present the local history of the region as well. There are also activities specially designed for children.

Perfect day-trip

Located just 38 km from Bregenz, or 60 km from Lech am Arlberg, Schattenburg is well-suited for a day trip. In addition to visiting the castle you should also take a tour around the beautiful old town of Feldkirch, which is only a few minutes’ walk from the castle. In the castle you will also find a restaurant.

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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.