Location: Lockenhaus in Burgenland Map
Constructed: 13th century
Lockenhaus Castle is a hilltop castle in central Burgenland in
Austria. It stands in the Günser mountains in the cross-border
nature park Gewrittenstein-Írottkő on the outskirts of the village
of Lockenhaus on a rocky outcrop on the Günsbach stream and thus
belongs to the hilltop castle type.
Lockenhaus Castle was first mentioned in a document in 1242. It was built around 1200 and initially bore the name "Leuca". The oldest parts are the keep and the ring wall of the main castle. The chapel tower and the two-aisled Gothic columned hall of the Knights' Hall are somewhat younger. In the soffits of the window niches of the castle chapel there are fragments of frescoes from the 13th century. These are the oldest frescoes on a military or secular building in Burgenland.
From 1270 to 1337, the Counts of Güssing (Johann I von Héder) are named as owners. Between the 14th and 17th centuries it belonged to the Kanizsay (1390 to 1535) and Nádasdy (1535 to 1672) families. After the killing of Franz III. Nádasdy the castle was pledged to Nikolaus Draskovich. In 1676 it became the property of the Esterházy family, who remained the lords of the castle until 1968.
In 1968, Paul Anton Keller and his wife acquired the castle complex, which was in a very poor condition at the time. Using their entire private assets, the family began the renovation, which was continued after Paul Anton Keller's death in 1976 by the Prof. Paul Anton Keller Foundation-Burg Lockenhaus. A total of eleven million Austrian schillings have been invested in the renovation of the buildings since 1968.
Templar castle or not?
The controversy is linked to Lockenhaus Castle as to whether it could originally have been an order castle of the Knights Templar. While numerous historians dispute the work of this order in Austria, the book author Gerhard Volfing has collected evidence that speaks for the theory of a Templar castle. On the ceiling of the so-called cult room there are stonemason marks, which can also be found in Templar castles in Spain and Portugal. The keystone in the cult room can also be found in a chapel in England. In addition, Volfing thinks that he recognizes a patriarch and a Knight Templar in the frescoes of the castle chapel.
Contrary to Volfing's description, other castle researchers interpret the cult room under the castle courtyard as the former cistern of the complex. It is one of the most elaborate that Romanesque architecture has produced in Central Europe. The small hall may also have served as a lower church, treasury or prison.
Lockenhaus Castle consists of an outer bailey and a core bailey behind it. A comprehensive investigation of the building structure has not taken place to this day. In addition to the chapel tower from the late Romanesque period, the keep near the gate to the main castle from the early construction period has also been preserved.