Obviously due to its strategic location ancient people used the hill of
Hochosterwitz Castle long before the current fortifications were added. First
defensive settlement date back to the Roman times. Hochosterwitz Castle is
mentioned in the deed of
King Louis the German of East
Francia who donated
the fortifications and surrounding lands to the Archdiocese of Salzburg.
Its name at the time was "Astarwiza" or "Ostroviza" clearly indicating
Slavic origin of the name. It is translated roughly as "an island"
apparently hinting on appearance of the mountain in the surrounding
Castle was granted by the Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg
to the Dukes of Carinthia from the House of Sponheim in the 11th
century. The nobles distinguished themselves by support of the Catholic
Church during Investiture Controversy which was a major conflict between
religious and secular authorities on privilege of appointing important
figures in Church such as abbots and bishops.
dramatic expansion of the Turkish forces deep into Central Europe. The
last remaining heir, Georg the Osterwitz, was captured during a battle
and died or was killed in prison in 1476.
Castle therefore passed
into the hands of Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg, since previous
owners owed the Empire a substantial debt.
Current structure was largely built
in 16th century by Domenico dell'Allio. He made significant modification to
fortress. Currently Hochosterwitz is owned by Khevenhuller family.
Parts of the castle are open to the public between Easter (usually late
April) to mid October. Mechanic
gondola can take you to the top in case you don't feel like climbing the
steep hill. There is a restaurant on the grounds of the medieval stronghold
that serves Carinthian cuisine.