Dietrichstein Castle (Burgruine Dietrichstein)

Dietrichstein Castle (Burgruine Dietrichstein)


Location: Feldkirchen in Kärnten, Carinthia  Map

Constructed: 12th century


Description of Dietrichstein Castle

Dietrichstein Castle is a medieval citadel situated near a town of Feldkirchen in Kärnten in Carinthia state in Austria. Its name is actually given to ruins of the castle as well as later palace that stands nearby. Dietrichstein Castle was erected in the early 12th century although local traditions claim that it was erected in the 9th century by Dietrich von Zeltschach. First written record date back to the 1103 so it is considered to be an official date of castle foundation. The purpose of Dietrichstein Castle was to safe guard major traffic artery between Vienna and Venice that is known as Venedigerstraße. It served an official seat of the Dietrichstein family who rose to the status of imperial princes. It was badly damaged in 1483 by invading Turkish forces.
The coat of arms of Dietrichstein Castle portray the winemaker, as a reference to a local winemaking culture that were commonly spread in the Middle Ages. Around 1335 Dietrichstein Castle was captured and destroyed by the armies of Margarethe Maultasch, but before 1370 it was quickly rebuilt. In 1483 Dietrichstein Castle was besieged again by the armies of king Matthias Corvinus. Its defenders under leadership of Pankraz of Dietrichstein were forced to surrender its garrison after 6 months. Contrary to his promises maded during the surrender, Hungarian king completely destroyed Dietrichstein Castle.
Today Dietrichstein Castle lies in ruins, but even despite its state it is still large and imposing. Its trenches, walls and cistern give an impression of what it appeared in the past.


There are traditions that the Dietrichstein castle was built by Dietrich von Zeltschach in the 9th century. The castle was first named after a ministerial knight Dietrich, the presumed builder of the castle, from 1103. The Dietrichsteiners were originally ministerials of the Eppenstein dukes of Carinthia, until in 1166 Hochstift Bamberg acquired the castle and the nearby town of Feldkirchen . The bishops assigned the castle to a family of ministers who named themselves after the castle but did not own it.

In the coat of arms of the von Dietrichstein family there was the winegrower's knife, a reference to viticulture in the Middle Ages in this area. The facility was the security castle of the later Feldkirchen market and served to control the Glantalstrasse. Around 1335 the castle was destroyed by Margarethe Maultasch. But before 1370 the castle was restored. In 1483, Pankraz von Dietrichstein had to hand over the castle to the besieging soldiers of the Hungarian king Matthias Corvinus after six months of defense, who, contrary to the promises made at the handover, completely destroyed the castle. After the departure of the Hungarians, the castle was razed in 1491.

The Dietrichstein castle complex was enthroned on a cliff above the Glan valley. Not much is left of the ruin, which was still described as “large and imposing” in the middle of the 19th century: parts of the Romanesque Bering are preserved on the north side up to a height of around two meters. Late Gothic masonry is also visible on the east side. Until recently, the layout of the keep and the cistern could still be seen in the courtyard. On the south-west side the rock drops steeply into the Glan Valley, the north-east side is secured by two walls and three ditches.