Kreuzenstein Castle

Kreuzenstein Castle

Kreuzenstein Castle is a show or museum castle in the market town of Leobendorf in the district of Korneuburg in Lower Austria.

The originally medieval castle complex was destroyed during the Thirty Years' War and then largely removed as building material. Under Count Johann Nepomuk Wilczek, the castle was rebuilt from 1874 to 1906 as a museum for his extensive art collections. The Schauburg that was created in this way is today, supplemented by numerous reused medieval components and after partial repair of the fire damage of 1915 and the war damage of 1945, a popular tourist destination north of Vienna.


Location: Lower Austria Map

Constructed: 1115

rebuilt in 19th century by Wilczek family

Open: 10am- 4pm Apr- Oct





Person (group)


Official site


The hilltop castle is located north of the Danube on a hill in the Rohrwald, just north of the village of Leobendorf and between the towns of Korneuburg and Stockerau. The sea level is 266 m above sea level. A., the height above the Danube about 100 m.

The Burgberg is not far from the Danube bend at the Vienna Gate, so that it allows a wide view of the course of the river and the upstream Korneuburg Basin. Approximately opposite, on the southern bank of the Danube, is Greifenstein Castle.



The medieval castle of the Habsburgs
The origins of Kreuzenstein Castle, like most castles in Lower Austria, go back to the 12th century. Built by the Formbachers, it came into the possession of the Counts of Wasserburg through marriage. The castle came into the possession of the Habsburgs in 1278 via Ottokar II of Bohemia.

The Anabaptist preacher Balthasar Hubmaier, arrested under the pretext of the riot in Nikolsburg (Moravia), was transferred to Kreuzenstein Castle in July 1527 and interrogated there. Since he refused to revoke his sentence, he was sentenced to death and burned in Vienna on March 10, 1528.

Until the Thirty Years' War in 1645, the original Kreuzenstein Castle had never been conquered. However, when the Swedes occupied large parts of Lower Austria in the final phase of the war and advanced as far as Vienna, Colonel Lukas Spicker, the commander of Kreuzenstein Castle and Korneuburg Fortress, was ordered on April 4, 1645 to hand over both fortified sites. In view of the small number of troops at his disposal, Spicker immediately complied with the demand and handed over the castle and town to the Swedish troops commanded by Field Marshal Lennart Torstensson on April 5 without a fight. When the main Swedish force began to retreat to Moravia at the end of September 1645, Torstensson ordered Kreuzenstein Castle to be blown up, which was carried out in three – some sources also speak of four – locations. After that, the castle was just a ruin, the remains of the walls of which served the local farmers as a source of material for building projects.

Reconstruction under the Counts of Wilczek
In the 18th century, the castle ruins came into the possession of the Counts Wilczek, who had acquired a large fortune through their coal mines in Silesia. From 1874, Count Johann Nepomuk Wilczek, who became known as a polar explorer, began to build a show castle step by step at the same place, which in no way corresponds in appearance to the former castle ("Romanesque-Gothic model castle"), but the existing remains of the medieval castle (especially parts the curtain wall, hull of the east tower and parts of the chapel) into the design. With a little practiced eye, the remains of the medieval building can be easily distinguished from the masonry of the 19th century components. The architect Carl Gangolf Kayser was in charge of construction management until his death in 1895, followed by his successor Humbert Walcher von Molthein and the artist Egon Rheinberger. A family tomb was built under the chapel. Wilczek himself also found his final resting place here. The entire castle was built on the one hand from or on the remains of the medieval castle and on the other hand from a large number of original components - so-called spolia - that Wilczek had collected from all over Europe. The largest contiguous of these spoils is the so-called Kaschauer Gang ― the tracery arcade spanning the courtyard was built around 1450 and originally formed the west gallery of the cathedral in Košice (German: Kaschau) in Slovakia. In 1895, during the renovation of the cathedral, Count Wilczek was able to purchase the original stones at a reasonable price - today there is an almost identical reconstruction in the cathedral itself. In addition, the castle was furnished with a large collection of medieval furnishings and artefacts, e.g. B. with one of the oldest surviving medieval slingshots, which was purchased from Hohensalzburg Fortress. The work lasted 30 years – the German Emperor Wilhelm II, among others, was present at the official reopening on June 6, 1906. In 1915, part of the archive and library wing burned out after a lightning strike.

Kreuzenstein Castle today
During the fighting in 1945 between the German Wehrmacht and the Red Army, some of the rooms were badly damaged and many items from the collection were stolen. Many of the manuscripts from the Wilczek Collection are now in the Austrian National Library.

Today the castle is a popular destination for excursions in the Vienna area and can be visited as a museum. At the end of June every year the classic castle serenade took place directly in the castle courtyard. At the request of the lord of the castle, however, this no longer exists. Also on the hill are the Kreuzenstein eagle station, which also organizes public bird of prey shows, and the newly designed Kreuzenstein castle tavern, which revived a medieval tavern from 2013 to 2019.



exterior description
Kreuzenstein Castle is a neo-Romantic building intended as a "model castle" that was laid out in a ring around a courtyard on top of the floor plan of the medieval castle. It has towers of different heights, residential buildings, a moat and a defensive wall. The effect of the castle is determined by the wings of different heights and the numerous towers with hipped roofs. The castle was built entirely of stone, and some of the reused building material from the Middle Ages can also be recognized. The western front of the castle is narrow and features a polygonal north-west tower. This is followed by the gable front of the chapel with tracery windows. Below is a crucifix from around 1520. To the side is a polygonal bell tower decorated with crabs and pinnacles. At the top of the bell tower stands a 16th-century bronze figure of St. Michael. The wings, sword and shield were added in the 19th century.

Western access is via a high arched brick bridge and a drawbridge to the gatehouse. The gatehouse is provided with a pitcher. Next to it is the kennel.


The castle as a film backdrop

The fact that Kreuzenstein is a so-called Schauburg has repeatedly drawn filmmakers' attention to this gem. Films and TV series have been produced on Kreuzenstein for over 100 years.

One of the earliest examples is Das Mirakel, partially realized here by Max Reinhardt in 1912 – as one of the first films ever to be shot on real locations and not exclusively in the studio. In the same year, the short documentary Die Burg Kreuzenstein near Vienna by the Austrian film pioneer Sascha Kolowrat was made. Other silent films followed: 1917 The King Amusing himself by Jakob Fleck and Luise Kolm, 1920 The Brave Little Tailor by Rudolf Walter, 1921 Gevatter Tod by Heinz Hanus, 1922 Asmodi, the limping devil by Albert Heine, 1924 Jiskor by Sidney M. Goldin and 1925 The second mother of Heinrich Bolten-Baeckers.

Kreuzenstein also remained a popular location for talkies. The Austrian director Willi Forst shot some scenes of his homeland film Kaiserjäger here in 1956, as did Franz Antel in 1957 Four girls from the Wachau, Michael Curtiz in 1960 Princess Olympia (after Olympia by Ferenc Molnar), Kurt Hoffmann in 1967 the medieval episode of his fantasy SF comedy Glorious times in the Spessart, as well as Adrian Hoven also in 1967 the horror film In the Castle of Bloody Desire.

More horror films followed in the 1970s – e.g. B. the Italian horror film Baron Blood by Mario Bava (1972) and the German vampire comedies Bitten is only at night - the happening of the vampires by Freddie Francis (1970) and Lady Dracula by Franz Josef Gottlieb (1978) - as well as the soft porn flick Die Stossburg - Wenn chastity belts rattling at night by Franz Marischka.

In 1979 parts of the film The Mystery of the Iron Mask (with Beau Bridges, Rex Harrison, Sylvia Kristel) were produced at the castle. Also in 1979, Kreuzenstein served as the setting for the eponymous Castle Zenda in The Prisoner of Zenda, starring Peter Sellers. In 1985 the vampire episode of the German comedy Die Einsteiger was filmed here with Thomas Gottschalk and Mike Krüger. Part of the Disney film The Three Musketeers (1993) was filmed at the castle.

In 2004 part of the film Shadow of the Sword - The Executioner was filmed here and in 2006 a music DVD of the German Gregorian pop group Gregorian was recorded. The castle was also the setting for two Tom Turbo episodes (2003/2006). In 2008, Kreuzenstein Castle was used again as a film set for the 2011 American production The Last Knight Templar starring Nicolas Cage.

In the German-Canadian multi-part television film The Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett's novel of the same name served as a template and the castle as a backdrop. Filming began here in 2009, starring Rufus Sewell, Matthew Macfadyen, Ian McShane and Donald Sutherland in a supporting role. The sequel series Die Tore der Welt (2012) was also partially created on Kreuzenstein.

In 2014, Kreuzenstein Castle served as the backdrop for the ABC reality show The Quest.

In 2015, parts of the ORF/ZDF TV film Maximilian - The Game of Power and Love and in early 2017 parts of the children's film Witch Lilli saves Christmas were shot at the castle.

In 2019, some scenes of the Netflix series The Witcher were filmed there.