Castle Riegersburg

Castle Riegersburg


Location: Styria  Map

Constructed: 12th century

Tel (03153) 8670

Open: Apr & Oct: 10am- 5pm daily

May- Sep: 9am- 5pm daily


Description of Castle Riegersburg

The Riegersburg is a hilltop castle in the town of Riegersburg in the district of Southeast Styria in Styria.



The Riegersburg first appears in documents in 1138 as "Ruotkerspurch", i.e. as the castle of a Rüdiger, but the basalt cone towering over 100 m was inhabited around 6000 years ago. Even in the Carantan period (from the 7th century) there was a refuge on the castle hill, which was protected on three sides by the steepest rock faces, as can be seen from the name of the valley west of the castle and the stream that flows in it: Graztal, Grazbach: Slaw. gradec = small castle .

Around 1020, after the Hungarians had been pushed back behind the Lafnitz for the first time, the Palatine Aribonen received large parts of East Styria from Emperor Heinrich II for clearing; under Konrad II the country was lost again around 1030, only in 1043 under Heinrich III. it was finally regained for the Reich.

Before or around 1100, the upper fortress was probably built on the northern hilltop (later: Kronegg), and to the north-east at the foot of the mountain the original main parish of Maria Magdalena, whose vicarage was used until 1979 for the later parish church of St. Martin, almost a kilometer away, and to the west of the Burgstock, later called the Altenmarkt sub-district, which perhaps already existed to some extent.

In 1142 the castle was owned by Hartnid von Traisen-Ort, who called himself "von Riegersburg" at the time. From him, the castle and dominion passed to his son-in-law, Richer von Hengist (1130–1168), a respected ministerial of the margravial Traungau family, who thus became the ancestor of the Riegersburg-Wildonier family. The last two of his sons, Hartnid, Herrand and Richer, were the new lords of Wildon Castle from around 1174.

In order to restrict the powerful Riegersburg Wildonier, Margrave Otakar III. around 1140 to 1150 on the site of today's borderland memorial a princely counter-fortress and at its feet the market town of Riegersburg with the St. Martin's Church, first mentioned in 1170. The "Lower Fortress" (later: Lichtenegg) was administered by burgraves.

After the death of Leutold von Riegersburg-Wildon in 1249, the upper fortress passed through his daughter Gertrud to her husband Albero V von Kuenring-Dürnstein. In 1295, Leutold von Kuenring revolted with the Austrian nobility against Duke Albrecht and was forced by his defeat to sell his "Rugerspurch House" in 1299 to Ulrich I of Walsee-Graz. In the decades that followed, the Walseers took over the entire castle dominion and finally in 1320 also the princely lower fortress, first as a pledge and finally as a fiefdom.

In 1363 the Styrian Walseers died out and were inherited by the Upper Austrian line of Walsee-Enns after they had been victorious in the property dispute with the Habsburgs. After 1400, the castle was temporarily in the possession of Otto von Stubenberg, but was redeemed again in 1409.

In the "Walse feud" - Reinprecht II of Walsee-Enns fought as an ally of Duke Albrecht V against Duke Ernst - the Walse burgrave undertook devastating raids in 1412 from the Riegersburg against the sovereign possessions of Duke Ernst and devastated large parts of eastern Styria. In the autumn, Duke Ernst succeeded in taking the lower castle after a short siege, whereupon the garrison of the upper castle also had to surrender.

In 1417, through the intervention of Emperor Sigismund, Reinprecht regained most of his Styrian possessions, including the Riegersburg, that he had lost as a result of the feud. As a result, around 1420, the Walseer had the so-called "Eselsteig" (Kroneggsteig) chiseled out of the west wall of the castle rock with a length of 120 meters in order to make the upper main castle independent of the old main entrance. From now on, both castles remained united in terms of ownership and were never to be conquered again, neither by the Hungarians nor by the Turks.

1434 the castle of Reinprecht III. still renovated, but already pledged by his son Wolfgang to Leutold von Stubenberg in 1456. At that time, Johann Steinpeiss the Middle was “nurse to Riegersburg” and died in 1462. Leutold von Stubenberg’s brother Reinprecht IV inherited the castle from Wolfgang in 1466/70, but was forced to sell it to Reinprecht von Reichenburg in 1479.

In those years (1469-1490), the Styrians had to live through extremely difficult times: the plague, famine, Turkish invasions and the Hungarian War reduced the population by a quarter to a third.

In 1539, Andrä von Graben, lord of Kornberg and Marburg, came into possession of the Riegersburg by marrying the Reichenburg heiress Polixena, but after his death, due to a formal error, it reverted to the sovereign, who then in turn gave it to the Reichenburg family. In 1571, Erasmus von Stadl became lord of the castle, and he significantly redesigned the high castle in the late Renaissance style. In 1618 the rule came to Georg Christoph von Ursenbeck through a purchase. Among the Ursenbeck z. B. the 20-day binge took place, which is commemorated by a window engraving in the Knights' Hall. In 1637, after a court case, the lordship of the castle passed to Baron Seyfried von Wechsler, in 1638 by inheritance to his uncle Sigmund, in 1648 by inheritance to Sigmund's niece Elisabeth Katharina Wechsler, married Baroness von Galler.

This, the "Gallerin", the "bad Liesl", was one of the most dazzling personalities of Styria in the 17th century. She was married three times; She kept her first husband, the President of the Imperial War Council Hans Wilhelm Freiherr von Galler, from co-owning the castle by paying him 15,000 guilders, so that he could have sole control of the castle and the estate. The second, Colonel Detleff von Kapell, died in the Battle of Mogersdorf in 1664. She divorced (!) the third, Hans von Stadl. She was at odds with a number of secular and spiritual neighbors, and in particular she took on the rather secular Riegersburg pastor, Wolfgang Strobel, energetically to the point of violently. She also argued with him about the right of patronage over the vicariate parishes dependent on Riegersburg; in Paldau she once preached a sermon (!) invoking her right to patronage.

Because of the constant threat to Eastern Styria from the Turks, they had the fortifications expanded at great expense and made the castle the "strongest fortress in Christianity" (according to Field Marshal Raimondo Montecuccoli).

The mighty outworks, the six gates and the eleven bastions with the 15-hectare, three-kilometer-long defensive wall, behind which the population of the entire area, including their cattle, found refuge in times of need, were only removed after the death of the Gallerin († 1672). Completed in 1676 by the Counts of Purgstall, who inherited the castle from Regina, their heiress to Galler.

After the Riegersburg Counts of Purgstall died out in 1817, the inheritance was divided among 17 people, including the Counts of Sauer and Lanthieri and the Stubenberg family, who sold the dominion to Prince Johann von Liechtenstein in a public auction in 1822. The castle remained in the possession of the Princely House of Liechtenstein, which saved it from impending decay after it was destroyed in 1945. Today it belongs to a branch of the Liechtenstein lineage, which is the only aristocratic house in Austria not affected by the law on the abolition of nobility, as they are citizens of their own monarchy, the Principality of Liechtenstein. Since 2014, Prince Emanuel von und zu Liechtenstein and his family have been trying to preserve the castle.

Today the castle is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Styria with changing themed exhibitions (e.g. witch hunts). One of the most famous victims of the great Feldbach witch trials from 1673 to 1675 was Katharina Paldauf.


The castle complex

A steep ascent in the immediate vicinity of the Riegersburg parish church takes you past the Steinkellertor, and a little later the Cillitor or Burgertor. Over a narrow section of path you reach the medieval horse pond, shortly afterwards the mighty Annentor and after an ascent the Lichteneckertor. The first four castle gates are attributed to master builder Bartholomäus Ebner and were built between 1678 and 1690.

A long paved path leads through the free-standing pyramid gate to the high plateau with its vineyards. The outer moat has been drawn around the so-called outer bailey, which houses the former armory and provision house. A wooden bridge leads to the Wenzel Gate with its richly decorated portal. Statues of the Roman deities Mars and Bellona stand in the niches on the side of the gate. Also known is the "Eselsteig", a stairway that runs diagonally over the rocks and leads to the outer bailey.

In addition to the six gates, there are a total of twelve bastions: St. Regina Bastion, St. Michaeli Bastion, St. Xaver Bastion, St. Marien Bastion, Leopoldi Bastion, St. Joseph Bastion, St .-Antoni-Bastei, St.-Johannis-Bastei, St.-Katharina-Bastei and three others. The borderland monument stands on a walled small high plateau, from which you have a good view over the vineyards to the stronghold. The approximately 10 hectare acreage is cultivated by winegrowers from the region.

High Castle Kronegg
The high castle of the castle complex bears the name Kronegg. It is a two- or three-storey building complex, which is laid out around two elongated inner courtyards. The dominant architectural style is late Baroque and late Renaissance. A bridge stretched over the second moat and a portal lead to the first courtyard of the stronghold, which is decorated with pillar and column arcades. Through another portal, decorated with a Wechsler coat of arms, you enter the so-called fountain courtyard, which is named after the fountain created in 1640 and decorated with a wrought-iron arbor.

There is a small chapel next to the entrance to the Kronegg Castle. Inside Kronegg, the prince's room, the bed of the well-known lady of the castle, called the Gallerin, the picture room, the Roman room and the Turkish room are particularly worth mentioning. The rooms include the knight's hall and the white hall, a dining room, next to it some staircases.

White Hall
The White Hall is a baroque summer dining room built by Italian craftsmen on behalf of the Gallerin. The extremely expensive construction was completed in 1658 - an inscription reminds of these construction costs, the Gallerin "Building is a beautiful pleasure. I am aware of what it costs me.”


Bird of prey sanctuary

The flight demonstrations at the bird of prey station on the Riegersburg are both interesting and spectacular.


Castle smith

Since 2013 there has again been a knife and weapon smithy on the Riegersburg. On weekends you can watch the blacksmith at work in the show forge, which is located between the first and second moat, and forge your own souvenir together with the castle blacksmith.

The Riegersburg castle blacksmith offers blacksmithing courses for knives or swords for smaller groups. These courses take place in the castle blacksmith's workshop, which is located slightly above the turnstile at the entrance to the castle.



The music video "Cassis" by The GazettE was filmed in 2005 at the Riegersburg.
The oldest Catholic Austrian MKV connection in the southeast of Austria, the K.Ö.St.V. Riegersburg zu Fürstenfeld is named after the Riegersburg.


Castle wine

Within the castle walls, viticulture has been practiced on an area of ​​ten hectares since the Gallerin. Today these vineyards are leased to the Bernhart winery from Riegersburg.


Opportunities for advancement

The ascent to the Riegersburg is made easier on the north side by a steep inclined lift, but of course it can also be done on foot, as was common in the past. The second variant may be a bit more strenuous and sweaty, especially in summer, but it offers an all the more impressive feeling for the height of the mountain and the centuries-old impregnability of the castle. There is a barrier-free hiking trail between the castle lift and the castle staircase in the village, which allows a breathtaking view of the fortress.

Meanwhile, the "Eselsteig" has been closed for some time because people climb on the rocks and it would be too dangerous to climb it. Should it ever be released again, its use should be far less dangerous than in the past. At that time, the “waste” from a two-seater toilet, where the “Gallerin” (in the 17th century the militant mistress of the castle) often chatted with her guests, ended up exactly where this path begins.

Climbers can scale the Riegersburg via the secured "Leopold-Klettersteig" with difficulty level C and reach the castle directly at the castle tavern. The via ferrata now has two extensions: the "Heinrich-Klettersteig" (also difficulty level C) and the short but more demanding so-called "extension" with difficulty level D. This combination of castle and via ferrata is unique in Austria.

At the foot of the Riegersburg, right next to the car park, there is a high ropes course and a 3D archery course as additional attractions.