A landmark castle in the Rosaliengebirge foothills of Burgenland, Forchtenstein has its origins in the Middle Ages although today it has an impressive Baroque façade. Its keep and tower date from the 13th century, when it was a constructed as a defence castle. In 1622 Emperor Ferdinand II awarded Forchtenstein to the powerful aristocratic Esterházy family, and they were responsible for extending it into today’s vast fortress, adding new wings and a chapel as well as decorating the interior with ornate patterns, coats of arms and scenes from mythology, plus colorful frescoes adorning the walls of the courtyard.
Having survived unscathed through the Turkish invasions of the 16th to 18th centuries, the castle became the repository for the precious Esterházy trove of family heirlooms. Three permanent exhibitions are held there, and treasures on display include the largest collection of medieval weapons in Europe, Austria’s biggest horde of ancestral portraits and a curiosity cabinet full of Baroque artifacts ranging from priceless silver furniture to carved ivory, sleighs used by the Esterházy offspring and automata. Other Esterházy properties nearby at Eisenstadt and Lackenbach can also be toured, together with an auditorium constructed in a quarry at St Margarethen.
Melinda-Esterházy-Platz 1, Forchtenstein. Open Mar–Oct daily 10am–6pm. Admission to castle and weapons collection, Treasury and Gallery of Chambers each: adults €9; seniors, students and younger than 18 €7; family €19. Entry is free with the Vienna Pass. Accessed by car via the A2/A3 to Eisenstadt then continue on the S31 to Forchtenstein. Otherwise take the bus from Vienna Südtirolerplatz to Forchtenstein.