Gurnitz Castle

Gurnitz Castle is a former medieval citadel in Carinthia region of Austria. Although its origins date back to the 11th century, little is preserved from the original structure. Its remains sit on top of a strategic mountain above Pfarrkirche Gurnitz.


Location: Carinthia  Map

Constructed: 11th century



The facility is located on a partially artificially steep rocky outcrop above the Gurnitz provost. It was a simply constructed Romanesque complex consisting of a large rectangular residential building with a tower on the west side and a walled courtyard. Residential building and tower were on the south side with a view of the Klagenfurt basin. Access to the castle, which can only be reached by climbing today, was from the west. Today only small remains of the complex are left.



In the year 860 the area on which the castle ruins are located was donated to the archbishopric of Salzburg. First it was a royal estate and later, in the 11th century, it became a castle. From this point on, the owners bore the name von Gurnitz.

Bernhard von Gurnitz was first reported in 1156. The next owner was Heinrich von Gurnitz, who changed his name to Heinrich von Greifenfels in 1235 (cf. Greifenfels castle ruins). His son Dietmar von Greifenfels renounced the property in 1315 and so the castle went to Konrad von Auffenstein. When the Auffenstein family died out in 1395/96 as a result of a suppressed uprising, Gurnitz Castle changed hands constantly and it was pledged at regular intervals, for example in 1437 to Konrad von Asbach, 1461 to Friedrich von Kastelwarkh, 1481 to Wolfgang Andreas von Graben, in 1484 to Niklas von Wildenstein, until it finally passed into the hands of Erasmus von Gera in 1584. Gurnitz Castle remained in this family until 1714. At that time it was already very dilapidated and could be described as a ruin. The new owner of this castle ruin was Johann Peter Graf von Goess. His family stayed in possession of the castle from then on. However, their actual family seat was and is Ebenthal Castle.

In 1825, during his famous hike through Austria, the alpinist Joseph Kyselak visited the ruins, which he described as follows:

“The three quarters of an hour from here [Ebenthal], to the east on a steep cliff, the ruins of the ancient Gurnitz fortress, which the Turks intended to bring down in 1473, are thrown together and are hardly worth a visit. - Soon all traces of the proud family castle of the glorious Knights of Auffenstein, whose last Friedrich, at the end of the fourteenth century, humiliating his tribe, died in prison as a rebel, will be gone, while their deeds will forever flourish for posterity! From the castle you can see the Glan and Glanfurt, after they have graciously watered their homeland, then they flow together until they are swallowed up by the Gurk and then by the greedy Drau.”

– Joseph Kyselak: Sketches of a foot journey through Austria, Styria, Carinthia, Berchtesgaden, Tyrol and Bavaria to Vienna