Gmünd Castle (Burgruine Gmünd)

Location: Carinthia

Constructed: 1252


Gmünd Castle or Burgruine Gmund is a historic medieval citadel in the Austrian province of Carinthia. It dates its construction to the 12th century.



The castle ruins are located in the Liesertal on a south-facing spur north of the town of Gmünd in Carinthia. From here, paths to the west and east lead to the castle. Further west, a dirt road leads up the hill to the castle. The castle can also be reached by vehicle from the north via private property.



Gmünd Castle was built in the 14th century as part of the expansion of the city to the north-west, when the market town belonging to the Archbishopric of Salzburg was elevated to the status of a city (1346) and grew rapidly. A castle in Gmünd, which was already mentioned in a document in 1292, is now assigned to the Amthof in the south-west corner of the city, since no building structure from the 13th century was found in today's Old Castle. The castle originally consisted of a five-storey residential tower and a five-storey keep with associated walls that were integrated into the city wall. The first phase of construction is dated to 1320-1360. After that, the castle was often expanded or rebuilt. Around 1350-1400 the residential tower was extended to the northeast and increased by one floor.

Since the Salzburg Archbishop Bernhard von Rohr in a dispute with Emperor Friedrich III. granted the king of Hungary Matthias Corvinus the right to occupy his estates, Hungarian troops occupied Gmünd in 1480 and carried out raids and plundering in the area. The Carinthian estates finally put an end to this hustle and bustle in 1487 by sieging and shelling Gmünd with a cartridge and smaller artillery. The castle was severely damaged, the Hungarians had to withdraw and Gmünd fell to the emperor. In 1502, Maximilian I, Friedrich's son, sold Gmünd to the Archbishop of Salzburg, Leonhard von Keutschach, but retained the right to repurchase it. In 1504 the town was devastated by a town fire, which may have also damaged the castle.

Together with the town, a ward wall was also built in front of the castle, which is dated to 1470-1500. It is therefore unclear whether this wall was built in the Hungarian era, in the imperial era or in the era of Leonhard von Keutschach. What is certain, however, is that the archbishop had the castle, which was damaged after the siege and probably the city fire, restored and expanded. Existing components were given new portal and window walls, vaults were added to the lower floors and two wings were added to the south and north-east. In addition, a new two-storey gate tower was built north of the Zwinger. These components are dated 1504-1511 and significantly upgraded the castle. In 1525 there was an uprising by farmers and miners. They occupied Gmünd, but could not take the castle. The uprising was suppressed with the help of the sovereign. An extension to the residential tower and bay window tract with vaults and two residential floors was also built during this period.

In 1555 Emperor Ferdinand I bought back Gmünd von Salzburg and pledged it to Christoph Pflügl von Goldenstein. He built the five-storey western Renaissance wing with a round tower, which adjoins the residential tower and builds over the gate tower of the Zwinger. Furthermore, the south-west bay window was raised by one floor. Between 1607 and 1615, master builder Daniel Deutta built the city palace under Count Rudolf von Raitenau, which reduced the importance of the castle as the seat of the town lords. In 1690 an earthquake destroyed parts of the town of Gmünd and damaged the castle. In 1886 a fire finally destroyed the castle and it was left in ruins and decay.

Beginning in 1971 and from 1977 to 1980, renovation work was carried out on the castle with the significant participation of the Gmünd town association in order to save the building from complete decay. In 1987, after the building fabric had been secured, the castle was opened for public viewing. The first events have taken place. From 1992 a restaurant was set up.


Todays use
Since 1992 there has been a castle restaurant with a terrace in the castle. The tower is used as an observation tower and there are guided tours as part of city tours. Various events such as concerts, cabaret, readings or theatrical performances take place on the premises. There are also art exhibitions. The Burgtheater Gmünd puts on a play in the castle every summer.

A legend of unknown interpretation and tradition shows that three lansquenets are said to have captured immeasurable treasures. They decided to roll the dice for all the winnings. The winner bought land and people and built the castle, but lost everything just as he had won it. At the Zwinger gate of the castle there are stone balls embedded in the wall, which are arranged like dice fields.