ABOVE: Burg Forchstenstein, Burgenland.
Eastern Austria is castle country, and the Schloss to beat all Austrian Schlösser may be Burg Forchtenstein. The fortress, on the eastern slope of the Rosaliengebirge hills in Burgenland, overlooks the Hungarian plains from a position so invincible that the Turks failed to seize it during their invasions of 1529 and 1683. The original portion of Forchtenstein, which has walls up to 40 feet (12 meters) thick, was built in the 14th Century by the counts of Mattersdorf. The Esterházy family acquired Burg Forchstenstein in 1622 and gradually enlarged it, turning it into an armory that now forms the largest weapons collection in Central Europe.
When to visit
Spring is a pleasant time to visit the Rosaliengebirge, since the many fruit orchards are in full bloom at that time of year. Summer tends to be hot (as in most of Central Europe), while autumn is fruit-picking season.
The castle is open daily to visitors from 8-12 a.m. and 1-4 p.m. daily in April through October, and on weekends only in March and November. For more information, contact:
In July, the castle hosts a Burg Forchtenstein Fantastisch event where children can dress in period costume, interact with the "castle mice" and other characters, dance to music from an earlier era, and play games.
Three miles north in Wiesen, an annual series of music festivals draws thousands of visitors to a canvas-and-steel tent between late May and the end of August.
For details on both these events, see the links below.
How to reach Forchtenstein
Forchtenstein is located southeast of Vienna, 13 miles (21 km) from Eisenstadt and 14 miles (23 km) from Wiener Neustadt. It's easiest to reach by car. From Vienna, take the A2 motorway to Wiener Neustadt, then head east on the S4 to Mattersburg, where a local road leads to the village and castle. Alternatively, drive from Vienna to Eisenstadt on the A3, then take the S31 to Mattersburg.
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