Impressive, imposing and straight out of a fairy tale! The path leads up through 14 artfully designed castle gates to the summit of a hilltop, which rises from the slightly undulating plain in Launsdorf. Here soars the main fortress of the historic defensive system, which has been owned by the Khevenhüller family for 470 years.
The castle was first transferred by the Emperor to the provincial governor Christoph Khevenhüller in 1541 as a feudal right, and in 1561 it passed into the ownership of the provincial governor Baron Georg Khevenhüller, who extended it to its current condition between 1570 and 1586.
His will, which can still be seen chiselled in stone on the fortress, states that he built the fortress for the good of the people and for their protection. Georg Khevenhüller was the 16th generation of his family to govern the fortress – and one thing has to be said: his last will is brought to life today. His grandson, the present-day lord of the castle Karl Khevenhüller-Metsch, ensures the well-being of the visitors to the fortress with a variety of offerings.
14 gates and one lift
Visitors to the fortress are free to climb the hill by means of the secured path leading through the various gates, which bridges deep gorges, nestles deftly against walls gouged from the rock, and here and there widens out into places-of-arms. Visitors of all ages can also make their way up to the gigantic view from the very top by means of the Fürst-Max-Bahn lift, named after the father of the current lord of the castle. Either way, everyone can experience the varied cultural events offered by Hochosterwitz Castle, ranging from concerts and exhibitions to impressive festivals.
Eat and celebrate in style
Epicures and gourmets among the castle visitors will also find what they are looking for, because local specialities of the Carinthian cuisine can be enjoyed in the spectacular medieval atmosphere of the castle restaurant. Excited castle fans and culture vultures can eat here in the exceptional ambience – an experience they will take home in their hearts, whatever their age. It is also possible to hold family parties, corporate celebrations and events amidst the ancient walls. The many years’ experience of organising medieval events is unrivalled, and creates unique celebratory moments.
Crafts and tradition
Once you have eaten, and inspired by the charm of your surroundings, it is time to immerse yourself in the fortress’s history. An ideal starting point is the armoury, with collections of weapons and paintings dating from the Renaissance period which bring past times to life. Ready to experience the world of medieval craftsmen? The castle’s carpentry workshop offers a look behind the scenes of the continuous maintenance of furniture, windows and doors. This requires not only restoration by carpenters, but the walls, which are a thousand years old in places, also have to be maintained – using old bricklaying methods and techniques that are worthy of protection. So only original stone material and lime mortar are used, to permanently preserve the overall historical appearance.
Protection and loyalty
Not only does the fortress itself enjoy exceptional care, but since 1600 the princely family has also been under the special protection of a guard of honour – right up to today. The Khevenhüller-Metsch guard of honour is the figurehead of the princely family, and stands sentinel over them out of firm conviction. Initially farm labourers, later guard details, today they comprise former militarists who have committed themselves to the traditional service. Honour to whom honour is due!