Pöggstall Castle

A long-unappreciated provincial castle is suddenly awoken from its deep slumber to be a venue for the Lower Austrian Exhibition 2017

The medieval center of power in the Ysper and Weitental regions holds many surprises. It was not until the recent general renovation that the full significance of the former water castle came to light – it is obviously a highly adaptable “creature”. Along with attractions such as a legal history museum, this site holds true (art) treasures.

A rediscovered gem

Pöggstall Castle (German: Schloss Pöggstall) has many tales to tell. Built originally as a water castle In the 13th c, it was modified and enlarged in the 15th and 16th centuries. Over its 770 years in existence, it has changed hands many times and its appearance changed with each of the owners. From 1795 to 1919, Pöggstall Castle belonged to the Habsburgs. In 1986 it was acquired by the Republic of Austria and since that year has been owned by the municipality. This historically important ensemble was only recently returned to its original splendor following an extensive and meticulous restoration. Former biases that Pöggstall was nothing more than an old provincial castle have had to give way to facts of an almost revolutionary nature. The Rogendorfs, one of the most politically active and influential families in the Hapsburg Empire in the 15th and 16th centuries, put an indelible mark on the castle, leaving impressive traces behind.

Rich in details

The concentrated efforts with which modern architectural approaches were applied over the centuries in Pöggstall are described by architectural historians as unique. The castle is a significant cultural gem with its inner courtyard and the arcades featuring Renaissance elements. Of special note are the stone spiral staircase, the Renaissance portal and the restored arcade courtyard as well as the roundel, a circular bastion serving as the outer ward of the castle. This imposing structure attached to the old castle demonstrates the importance of the complex – a massive fortification of this kind was otherwise only built in very rich cities.

Rated well worth seeing

Pöggstall Castle houses a legal history museum and the legal history collection of the State of Lower Austria. In 2017 it served as the venue for the Lower Austrian State Exhibition “Bound by Law”. The special exhibition in the roundel covers the eventful restoration and significant finds made in the course of it as well as sharing amazing stories about the lords of the castle. A 3-D animation vividly shows how the keep (and later castle) grew from its original layout to its current appearance. The suit of armor of Wilhelm of Rogendorf from 1523 is on display in Pöggstall as an item on loan from the KHM (Art History Museum Vienna). Also on display is a portrait of Georg of Rogendorf, on loan from the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg.

From water castle to waterfall

The castle garden is an interesting place for a break with its various pillories and other stone witnesses to the past. Head for “s´Ronderl” for a bite to eat and “s´Geschäft” for regional specialties to go. A special destination nearby is Ysperklamm – a natural spectacle featuring crystal clear water, narrow gorges, imposing waterfalls and incredible rock formations.