Those of you who follow me travelling around Austria will know that I have already been writing a lot of insightful stories about the very essence of Burgenland, located in the east of Austria at the border with Hungary and Slovakia. The Burgenland really hasn’t got much to do at all with the rest of the Alpine republic, neither climatically nor historically speaking. But it has got a soul to it, expressed by its many extraordinary inhabitants about who I am going to tell you more today. Some of them have built mighty castles and fortresses, hence the German name “BURGENland” (“Burgen” literally meaning castles or fortresses). But is this true?
In actual fact, the BURGENland has been named after its cities more than its castles. We start conquering them one by one, starting with Stadtschlaining and visiting the local peace palace “Friedensburg” Schlaining!
Peaceful is what you would call the atmosphere in the tiny city of Stadtschlaining located in Southern Burgenland, even though the mighty fortress with its deep moat and strong, fortified walls gives testimony to an eventful course of history. For many centuries, the noble line of the Batthyány family has dominated the course of events here, while only recently, after the fall of the Iron Curtain that once ran close-by, Burg Stadtschlaining has been turned into a so-called “peace palace“. The local “Austrian Study Centre For Peace & Conflict Solutions” runs regular international trainings, adult education courses and high-profile congresses among members of different NGOs, Austrian & foreign ministries or the United Nations. Hard to believe if you travel here at unawares: The Schlaining palace building is more than just a fortress worth visiting!
Very different is the atmosphere of our “blogger-in-residence” palace Bernstein that has me & my dear friends / fellow travel writers Angelika Mandler-Saul (WiederUnterwegs.com), Tanja Klindworth (Wellness-Bummler.de), Monika Baum (Entdecker-Greise.de) & Milos Willing (Luxuslupe.de) stay there for three consecutive nights. The beautiful castle still owned by the Almásy family is being run as a palace hotel with lots of “tender loving care”. Andrea Almásy and her son Rasmus Berger are true hosts to the core, taking care of us with excellent wining & dining and beautifully furnished palace hotel rooms. Check out more about my visit here: “Burg Bernstein: Be My Guest, Take A Rest“.
In the very south of Burgenland, Güssing Palace towers above the city with the same name as a visible sign of conquest in the BURGENland.
Once more, we come across the family name of the Batthyány nobility, whose forefathers have erected this castle some 900 years ago on an extinct volcano hill. Accessing it, therefore, proves interesting: Apart from climbing and walking, we choose to be guests of the 21st century and actually opt for taking the panorama lift all the way to the ancient castle gates in Güssing!
Here, too, we are met by warm-hearted hosts of present times: Mrs Brigitte Hauptmann and her dog Sir Moritz welcome us to a guided visit around the premises of the ancient fortified castle. Besides the modern restaurant and the excellent 360° views across the entire Southern Burgenland district, it is worth checking out the intricate glass and iron fabrics exhibited in the palace museum. As well as listening to Mrs Hauptmann’s many stories about the knights and mistresses that have ruled & reigned the colourful events here at Güssing Palace …!
“Colourful castles throughout the course of history” … Lockenhaus Palace really has something going in the sense of a colourful history!
Lockenhaus Palace being the fourth palace we visit as part of our trip here in Burgenland really has a unique story to tell. Of a dark chapter in history … or herstory, rather! Not only did the “blood lady” Erzsébeth Báthory rule here as part of the palace’s darkest decades in history (read more about my early travels here including a knights’ feast & bats visit on this legendary castle!), but have we also been summoned to attend a Dracula theatre play here! Yes! And what a theatre play it is, actually following the actors around the castle on many different stages throughout the course of events in the theatre … fiction becomes hard to tell from reality, we are totally captivated! Lockenhaus Palace also offers beautifully furnished hotel rooms and Austria’s largest kindergarten for bats – check it all out at www.ritterburg.at!
Last but not least, we go on to explore Forchtenstein Palace near Eisenstadt in the BURGENland: It is all about Nile crocodiles, weapon depots & walls fortified here!
They must always have had their sense of adventure here in the Burgenland. As much as Bernstein Palace has brought about the international desert explorer Ládislaus Almásy, entering the “Inner Sanctuum” of the Forchtenstein Palace has us meet a real dangling crocodile, stuffed & hanging from a chain high above its entrance gates. Of course, once only the noble people would have been allowed to see it after passing over the mighty tow-bridge and entering into the fortified palace. Today, though, all (international) visitors such as us are allowed to conquer the palace (and see the crocodile), where we learn all there is to know about the rule of the third noble family from Burgenland, the Esterházy.
Check out even more pictures & travel moments of our adventurous journey of conquering the BURGENland here. In my next article, I will tell you even more travel tales of truly excellent hosts from Burgenland: Stay tuned!
My dear friends & colleagues have also published the following stories and photographs about the Burgenland:
- Tanja Klindworth of Wellness-Bummler.de: “Burgen in Burgenland“
- Angelika Mandler of WiederUnterwegs.com: “BURGENtour in the Burgenland”
- Milos Willing of Luxuslupe.de: “Beeindruckendes #Burgenland“
- Monika Baum of Entdecker-Greise.de: “(M)Eine Reise ins Burgenland“
Disclaimer: We have been invited on this trip discovering the BURGENland. All opinions are my own.