Austrian Castles

Standing proud across the Austrian countryside are a number of Austrian castles and palaces that not only dazzle the eye, but also inspire the imagination. Visiting historic castles in Austria is a fascinating pursuit, and you won't have to go far to find one when hanging out in Austria's main tourist spots. You'll see regal rooms, fine works of art, bygone architectural styles, and probably a garden or two when you visit an Austria palace, and it's intriguing to see how past royalty lived. The Habsburgs, for whom many of the Austrian castles and palaces were built, amassed quite a collection of art and artifacts during their more than 600 year reign, so when you enter one of their former abodes, a remarkable experience awaits you.

The Austrian capital city of Vienna is a good place to start for those who plan to visit some historic castles in Austria. Smack in the middle of Old Town Vienna, Hofburg Palace attracts a healthy number of tourists. This Vienna Austria palace was a winter estate for the Habsburgs, and among other things, it is where the Vienna Boys' Choir performs, and also where you can also catch an impressive horse show at the Spanish Riding School. The palace complex is quite, well, complex, having been modified and added onto consistently after the first building went up in 1279. It's almost a small city within itself, offering curious visitors plenty to explore. You can't help but notice Hofburg Palace when touring Vienna's Old Town, and it begs a visit.

The Habsburgs also had a summer residence in Vienna, and that residence was Schonbrunn Palace, which is just outside the Old Town. As impressive as Hofburg Palace, Schonbrunn Palace was modeled after the Palace of Versailles in France. The Habsburgs had very refined tastes, which is evident when touring Schonbrunn Palace, as even the gardens are meticulous and dazzling. There are other castles and palaces in Vienna, but these two are among the best. For an interesting Vienna side trip, you can head to nearby Melk to see Melk Abbey, which is part palace, part monastery. The golden, red-roofed Melk Monastery that so impresses visitors was built between the years 1702 and 1736. Also worth the trip out from Vienna is Artstetten Palace, which rises above the Danube River. Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose death was the catalyst for World War I, used to reside here. Artstetten Palace looks like something that you might see in St Petersburg, Russia, and it is a fine castle that boasts some lovely grounds for relaxing.

Much like Vienna, Salzburg has some of the best historic castles in Austria. The most recognizable one is Hohensalzburg Fortress, which looms over the city from its perch on Festungsberg Hill. You can't miss it, as it is easily seen from most, if not all vantage points in the city. Hohensalzburg Fortress is the largest preserved fortress in all of central Europe, which also helps to make it stand out. Another palace in Austria that you will find in Salzburg is Mirabell Palace, which is partly known for its immaculate gardens. Mirabell Palace was built in 1606 at the request of Prince Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau. As the story goes, the residence, which was originally titled Altenau, was intended for the Prince Archbishop's mistress Salome Alt. Also of interest in the city where Mozart was born is Residenz, which is an opulent estate that dates back to 1120. Like other castles in Austria, additions and renovations would see Residenz change form over centuries. Among the highlights here is the 1660s fountain, which is an awe-inspiring baroque masterpiece.

Nestled in the Austrian Alps, Innsbruck might first be known as a world-class ski destination, but it's also where you will find one of the best castles in Austria. Not to be confused with the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Innsbruck's Hofburg Palace was once the seat of mighty Maximilian I. This fine palace in Austria was built between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries. Among the things you won't want to miss on your visit is the painting of Marie Antoinette, who interestingly enough was born in Vienna's Hofburg Palace.

While you can simply visit a bunch of castles in Austria, you can also choose to stay at one. Some of the best hotels in Austria were once Austrian castles, and they provide for quite a fairy tale experience. In Bregenz, for example, the Deuring Schlossle Hotel is housed in a small, sixteenth century castle. Staying here will likely make you feel like royalty, which isn't a bad feeling.

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