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the imposing Medieval Burg Hochosterwitz Castle
Hochosterwitz Castle is a medieval fortress located in the State of Carinthia, in Austria.
The castle is perched on a 150-meter-high limestone dolomite rock where it stands guard over the valley below. This historic Austrian castle dates to the 9th century.
Over the centuries, the castle has withstood several sieges and battles and today it is one of the most famous of the state’s landmarks as well as one of Austria’s most impressive medieval castles.
In this guide to visiting Burg Hochosterwitz Castle we’ll cover everything you need to know to make the most of your trip to this wonderful famous Austrian landmark!
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Getting up the hill
Visitors can reach the castle by hiking straight up the long pathway uphill or by taking the Fürst-Max-Bahn elevator/ funicular. Electric cars whisk you up to the castle in 95 seconds!
(Extra charge, 10 euros for the ascent, 6 euros for the descent when we visited in September, purchase tickets on site at the ticket booth) It’s a little expensive but it saves your legs and when we are traveling, we need to save our legs as much as possible!)
Once at the top, visitors are treated to views of the surrounding landscape.
Touring the castle
The castle is a self-guided tour, with access to most parts of the castle, indoors and out. Free audio guides are available if you bring headphones or earbuds. They recommend allowing 1.5 hours to tour this sprawling fortress.
Exploring the castle grounds
Explore the castle’s 14 gates, 5 courtyards, and many towers.
Hochosterwitz castle map
Each gate has a diagram of the defense mechanism, looking for a particular gate? all 14 can be found on this map!
All around the castle you’ll see evidence of it’s once upon a time life as a fortified stronghold.
Touring the Interior
(photography is prohibited in the museum and the exhibition rooms)
You can also visit the interesting museum located in the castle. It features exhibits on the castle’s history and architecture, antique weapons, and art. The Armory has an impressive collection of full body armor (including armor worn by Burghauptmann Schenk whose armor was 2.4 meters or 8 feet tall!
In the photo below you will see Burghuptmann’s armor, the other armor in the photo was made for the average sized man!
important visitor information (the details!)
This section has a few tips for your visit to Hochosterwitz Castle.
Note: for the most current and up to date information on opening times and entrance fees see the official castle website.
Opening dates and times
Hochosterwitz Castle is open to visitors April 1st – November 1st. Hours vary by season. Castle entry up until 1.5 hours before closing time.
17 € for adults
discounts for admission:
- Wörthersee Plus Guest card
- Carinthia Guest Card
- Children (6 and under free)
Hochosterwitz Castle Tickets
Purchase tickets in advance on the website, walk up tickets available.
Best time to visit
We visited on a Sunday in September, at midday, and didn’t find that the castle was overly crowded!
The rule of thumb for beating crowds is to visit:
- early or late in the day
- in the off or shoulder season
- weekdays rather than weekends
Festivals and special events
- Knight’s Festival. This festival is held yearly in August. The foot of the castle is transformed into a medieval marketplace where you’ll find costumes from the Middle Ages, battles, fire shows, jugglers, jousting, games, sword fighting, music, archery, pottery, glass blowing, culinary experiences, and More! Tickets can be purchased online or at the castle ticket booth.
- Advent Market, attend the Christmas market at the Castle! Held a few days in early December, check the website for dates.
Can’t wait to visit but can’t get there just yet? Check out the webcam from Burg Hochosterwitz Castle hill!
Getting to the castle
Location: The castle is just 6 km south Sankt Georgen am Längsee and 9 km east of the town of Sankt veit an der Glan.
Address: Niederosterwitz 1 Launsdorf
GPS coordinates: 46.756549035585834, 14.451473623273698 (plug them into your Google Maps or Navigation system)
There’s a large parking lot near the ticket booth and funicular with plenty of spaces. Parking is free.
The castle is a bit out of the way (hidden gem!) but definitely worth the effort to get there. We actually hit it on our way from the Bled area of Slovenia to Hallstatt Austria. We even went a little out of our way to get there and it ended up being a great decision! Here is the approximate distance from larger cities in the area.
- Graz Austria 140 km (2 hours)
- Bled Slovenia 100 km (1 hour)
- Ljubljana, Slovenia 144 km (1 hour 35 min)
- Salzburg Austria 239 km ( 2 hours 43 min)
Closest train station:
To find your best options for getting to the castle by train/bus check the Rome2Rio website.
The name “Hochosterwitz” being of Slavic Origin, it’s a mouthful! This video will have you pronouncing Hochosterwitz like a pro in no time flat!
dining at Hochosterwitz
Enjoying Local Cuisine at Hochosterwitz Castle! There are two options that serve traditional Austrian dishes.
The snack stand in the castle courtyard has some quick, easy, and tasty options.
On my list of things to do in Austria was to try Eiernockerl, Austria’s version of Spätzle with cheese and fried onions. I got my chance at the courtyard café. It was good!
My husband with with the Currywurst, one of my personal favorites!
The gorgeous restaurant inside the castle serves Carinthian cuisine in an elegant dining room straight out of the Middle Ages! Book a table by using the online booking tab.
The massive Burg Hochosterwitz castle is a glorious sight from afar, but the lovely architecture found in and around the castle and museum exhibits make it worthwhile to get an up close and personal view! It’s a must-do experience that you should add to your Austria travel itinerary!
Here are some of my favorite hotel and accommodations choices in the area: (prices based on double occupancy)
Like castles? How about an overnight stay in a castle!? check out the first 3 options!
Schloss Moosburg Gästehaus
Medieval style accommodations in a genuine castle, that sits on a picturesque pond. This property is a bit of a drive from Hochosterwitz Castle (30 km) but how often do you get to stay in a castle!? 8.5 guest rating, prices starting at $113 per night.
book it here on booking.com!
Rent a room in this lovely family owned castle! Distance: 28 km, prices starting at $193 per night.
book it here on booking.com!
Burg St. Veit
Yet another castle option! and this is your closest option at only 10 km! Prices start at around $77 per night.
book it now on booking.com!
Stift St. Georgen am Längsee
The opportunity to overnight in a 1,000 year old abbey on a stunning lake is just 7 km away! This property sits on Lake Längsee and is surrounded by beautiful gardens. 8.2 customer review, prices start at $240 per night.
Gipfelhaus Magdalensberg Familie Skorianz
Luxury Accommodations at a reasonable price, on a hill high above the surrounding landscape! 9.2 guest rating, distance 17 km, prices start at $262 per night.
book it here on booking.com!
Burg Hochosterwitz Castle History
The castle has a fascinating history that spans over 1,100 years. Castle Hochosterwitz has been owned by the same family, the Khevenhüller family, for 470 years.
When was Hochosterwitz Castle built?
The earliest known mention of Hochosterwitz Castle dates back to 860 AD.
The following is an abbreviated quote on the history of Hochosterwitz castle from the Spotting History. It is intended for instructional purposes only and I in no way claim any ownership of the following text.
“The site was first mentioned in an 860 deed issued by King Louis the German of East Francia, donating several of his properties in the former Principality of Carantania to the Archdiocese of Salzburg.
In the 11th century Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg ceded the castle to the Dukes of Carinthia from the noble House of Sponheim in return for their support during the Investiture Controversy.
The Sponheim dukes bestowed the fiefdom upon the family of Osterwitz, who held the hereditary office of the cup-bearer of Osterwitz in 1209.
In the 15th century, the last Carinthian cup-bearer, Georg of Osterwitz…died in 1476…without leaving descendants (and due to substantial debt lost)…possession of the castle (which then) reverted to Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg.
Over the next 30 years, the castle was badly damaged by numerous Turkish campaigns. On 5 October 1509, Emperor Maximilian I handed the castle as a pledge to Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, then Bishop of Gurk. Bishop Lang undertook a substantial renovation project for the damaged castle.
About 1541, German king Ferdinand I of Habsburg bestowed Hochosterwitz upon the Carinthian governor Christof Khevenhüller. In 1571, Baron George Khevenhüller acquired the citadel by purchase. He fortified to deal with the threat of Turkish invasions of the region, building an armory and 14 gates between 1570 and 1586. Such massive fortification is considered unique in citadel construction.
Since the 16th century, no major changes have been made to Hochosterwitz. It has also remained in the possession of the Khevenhüller family as requested by the original builder, Georg Khevenhüller. (There’s) A marble plaque dating from 1576 in the castle yard (to document) this request.”
source: Spotting History
local legend, Burg Hochosterwitz Castle
Throughout history different treacherous methods were used to gain access to a castle.
Hochosterwitz Castle has its own tales of treachery and trickery, such as this popular tale of the siege of the castle by the troops of troops of Margarete Maultasch Countess of Tyrol, After her father’s death in the 14th century Margaret was cheated out of her inheritance claim to deeds of the castle by the Austrian House of Habsburg.
Margarete’s (also affectionately known as “ Mouth Bag ”) forces moved in on the castle in an attempt to regain control. To dupe the invading troops, the Garrison of Hochosterwitz slaughtered its last ox, filled it with corn and threw it over the wall, pretending it still had so many provisions in stock that they could be used as projectiles. Margarete’s troops withdrew from the castle.
(The legend was first mentioned in medieval times by chronicler Jakob Unrest and later by Jacob Grimm, one half of the famous Brothers Grimm. The tale made its way around the world when it was later published by Austro-American psychologist Paul Watzlawick in his book Change.)
Other attractions in the area
Another major tourist attraction in Carinthia near Hochosterwitz Castle is Minimundus (formerly known as Minieurop). This miniature park displays over 150 miniature models of architecture from around the world, including a miniature version of Hochosterwitz Castle!
Other notable sites include Statue of Liberty, the Parthenon, the Taj Mahal, the pyramids, the Eiffel Tower and more!
This fun attraction is located just 27 km away, so why not add it to your itinerary!
Looking for more Famous Landmarks in Austria? I’ve got a list of 50!
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