Hohenwerfen Castle


Location: Map

5450 Werfen
Tel.: 43(0)6468/7603
Fax: 43(0)6468/7603-4
e-mail: link
Internet: www.salzburg-burgen.at

Don't forget to visit nearby Eisriesenwelt ice cave:)

Rates Without lift With left
Adults € 10 € 13
Adults, reduced € 8.5 € 11
Children (6-14) € 5.5 € 7
Family € 23 € 30


Hours of Admission
April* 9:30am- 4:30pm
May, June 9am- 5pm
July, Aug 9am- 6pm
Sept 9am- 5pm
Oct, Nov 9:30am- 4:30pm
Dec- Mar closed
* closed on Mondays in April


Description of Hohenwerfen Castle


Hohenwerfen Castle is located 40 km (25 miles) South of Salzburg. It is a magnificent medieval citadel that stands on top of 155 meter hilltop. Its splendid medieval structures offer a great view of the valley of the river Salzach below. This medieval citadel of Hohenwerfen is situated between majestic Tennengau and Hagen ridges. It was build in the 11th century in a series of fortifications to defend the city of Salzburg. It was a key fortress in a defense of Lueg pass that could be used by invading armies on their way to the region's capital. Over a course of five centuries its defenses were strengthened. Towers and new curtail walls were added. Due to its strategic location and well defended position it became residential and hunting retreat. However the Hohenwerfen also has more sinister side to it. Almost from the very beginning it became a prison for political and criminal prisoners. That included the Archbishop Albert III (1198), Count (Graf) Albert bon Friesach (1253), the Styrian governor Siegmund (1525) and Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau (1611). Housed under inhumane conditions many prisoners died here or went mad. Their ghosts reportedly still haunt Hohenwerfen Castle.



The Hohenwerfen Fortress is located in the middle of the northern Limestone Alps in Pongau and is comparable to the Hohensalzburg Fortress, which was built in the same years.

The castle is enthroned, clearly visible from north and south, at the northern end of the market town of Werfen on a rocky cone rising 113 m above the Salzach, the Werfener Burgberg (697 m above sea level). Together with the Gesengköpfl (885 m above sea level) it forms a natural pass (known locally as the Werfener Bichel), between the Gesengköpfl and Zetzenbergkogel (740 m above sea level) the Salzach also forms a narrow valley. This makes the pass the only access to the Lueg pass from the south (the Tennecker Kessel is still in between) and thus a strategic key point on the ancient Alpine transversal southwards along the Salzach, which connects Salzburg with Graz and south-eastern Europe as well as with Venice and all of Italy also Salzburg's access to its mountain districts, the Innergebirge. Hohenwerfen was the bulwark of the city of Salzburg to the south.



Archbishop Gebhard von Salzburg (1060-1088) initiated the construction of Hohenwerfen Fortress between 1075 and 1078. After he had sided with Pope Gregory VII in the investiture dispute against King Henry IV, the archbishopric was plundered and devastated by those who were loyal to the king. To protect his diocese, Gebhard therefore quickly had Hohenwerfen Castle and Hohensalzburg Fortress built, both of which, however, were much smaller than today's buildings. The first building on Hohenwerfen consisted of a ring wall of about 35 × 35 meters with a small palace and a castle chapel; only small wall fragments of both are preserved today. The quick construction of the castle not only protected the episcopal city with its church treasures, but also blocked the shorter way back through the eastern Alpine passes for the king after his trip to Canossa. In 1078 Gebhard nevertheless had to flee the archbishopric; In 1086 he returned with the support of the Bavarian duke Welf I and died in 1088 at Hohenwerfen.

Archbishop Konrad I, who also took the Pope's side, had the two most important bishop's castles expanded. From his biography, the saying has been handed down with regard to Hohenwerfen and the Salzach Valley: "You can get this far, but no further". Between 1127 and 1142, Konrad had a larger new building built at right angles to the older palace, which connected it to the castle chapel. Both palace buildings were integrated into the continuous castle wall and formed a large cube of monumental appearance, as can still be seen today. A two-aisled hall in the basement of the new building probably served as a provision house, the middle floor, which only had windows on the courtyard side, as a place for the court, and the crowning main floor was a continuous hall, the only one with large biforia windows on the outside. The chapel was also expanded; In 1983, fragments of frescoes from that time were uncovered there, including the biblical "Battle of the angels against the whore Babylon", which can be interpreted as a symbol for the papal side's fight against the emperors. There is also a knight in 12th-century garb with a Latin inscription on his almond shield, which means: “The whole world may come, no one gets by unpunished”.

100 years after the Crusades, loopholes, bay windows, kennels and flanking towers were built. After that, the archbishops of Salzburg largely stopped building.

During the Peasants' War in 1525 the fortress was set on fire and damaged. During the subsequent renovation under Archbishop Matthäus Lang, the first barricaded building, on which the port guard was located, and a small bastion with the Wallerturm, as well as the installation of a covered corridor (Riemergang) and the Dark Staircase were created. Significant improvements were made to the outer baileys up until 1534, due to the imminent danger from the Turks. Archbishop Johann Jakob Khuen von Belasy, who had the castle renovated with the help of Italian master builders, is mentioned as the builder of this newly built fortress. It almost had the character of today's castle. Khuen's successor, Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau, was imprisoned here in 1611 after his capture by Bavarian troops for a few weeks before being deposed and imprisoned at Hohensalzburg Castle for the rest of his life. Archbishop Paris Lodron tried to keep the Archdiocese out of the entanglements of the Thirty Years' War; in addition to fortifying the residential city, he also had Hohenwerfen strengthened.

After the secularization of Salzburg from 1803, the castle fell into disrepair under Bavarian rule until it was restored by Archduke Johann from 1824 to 1833 and then used as a hunting lodge. Archduke Eugen acquired the property in 1898 and had it expanded into his princely residence. His large collection of art and weapons was also located here.

In 1931 a smoldering fire broke out in the castle, which almost completely destroyed large parts of the east wing, the south wing with the chapel tower and the north wing. Parts of the inventory and the bell tower with the big bell - the Burgahnl - could be saved. However, the damage was considerable. Archduke Eugen had to sell large parts of his collection in order to rebuild the castle. In 1938, however, he felt compelled to sell the castle to the then "Reichsgau Salzburg".

During the Second World War there was a Gaufuhrerschule of the NSDAP in the castle. It was opened on March 5, 1939 by Salzburg's Gauleiter Friedrich Rainer. At the end of World War II, the castle became the property of the state of Salzburg. The castle was initially used as a training center for the gendarmerie and has been open to tourism since 1987.


The castle as a film backdrop

In 1968, Fortress Hollywood served as the setting for the feature film Agents Die Lonely, starring Clint Eastwood and Richard Burton.
For the film pediatrician Dr. Fröhlich mit Roy Black in 1972, both the fortress and Werfen were used as film locations.
In 1986, the TV series Frankenstein's Aunt was produced here.
The castle complex also served as a film set for the five-part film The Tenth Kingdom
It served as a ghost castle in the episode of the same name in the US series Agentin mit Herz.
Sherlock Holmes: The Shadow Game (2011): The fortress in the Swiss Alps shown in the film was designed digitally, using Hohenwerfen Castle and Neuschwanstein Castle as templates.
In the Amazon TV series The Man in the High Castle (2015), the castle was used as the leader's headquarters.
In 2016, the castle served as the setting for the zombie mode "The Iron Dragon" in the computer game Call of Duty: Black Ops III.

Today's Attractions
The Burgahnl, as the 4412 kg bell in the belfry of Hohenwerfen Fortress is also called, was cast in Innsbruck in 1568 by Hans Christoph Löffler. The bell is still rung today on high holidays.
also a clockwork there, approx. 1720/25, originally a verge clock, converted to a pendulum clock around 1900, restored in 1987/88 and in operation since then
gun room
castle dungeon
Knight's tournament, knight's meal
Falconry Museum and Air Show