Rappottenstein Castle

Three times under siege but never destroyed – the history of an ancient landmark.

The valley of the small Kamp River is the setting for one of the oldest fortified castles in the northwest Waldviertel, proudly perched in grand style on its granite hilltop. Rappottenstein Castle (German: Burg Rappottenstein) gives witness to the interplay of the forces of man and nature, of the Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance eras. Here your stroll becomes an unforgettable journey.

Never-ending golden age of a citadel

Rappottenstein was ascribed great significance from the very start. The castle lies in the heart of the extensive Kuenring land holdings, serving as a stable anchor in turbulent times. It also protected the ancient route from the Danube across the Nordwald (an earlier name given to the Waldviertel) and on toward Bohemia. This steep path was called the Pehamsteig and traces of it can still be found in this municipality. Rapoto of Kuenring (1157) is cited as the person who built and named the fortress. However, the Kuenrings lost this property after scarcely more than 150 years as the result of their alliance with King Ottokar of Bohemia against Rudolf of Habsburg. They ended up dying in exile. The castle then passed successively to the Lords of Dachsberg, Starhemberg and Landau. It successfully withstood all besiegers over these years: rebelling peasants (in 1597), Catholic troops (in 1619) and the Swedes (in 1645). It was not until Ernst Imperial Count of Abensperg and Traun bought Rappottenstein in 1664 that the fortress and the domain associated with it gained a long-term owner. For more than 350 years and down to the present day, it has remained in the hands of the Counts of Abensperg and Traun.

Imposing and formidable

The southern section of the castle with its massive windowless walls towering over steep granite cliffs dates from Kuenring times. These structures constitute the original fortification.  A clear display of power toward visitors, especially unwanted ones. The keep sits on the very top of the rock massif, watching over the entire complex. The oldest buildings in the castle yard extend between the keep and the gate tower and date back to the second half of the 12th c. The outer ward is a carefully conceived defense system comprising eight gates and five courtyards. The enemy had to make it through this area in order to reach the heart of the castle. It piques your own curiosity: What might the best tactics of attack be?

Art, chapel and sound

If you want, you can go to the very depths of this castle’s history: the dungeon. It provides insights into the harsh punishments of those bygone days. If you are more in the mood for beauty than brutality, you will find it in the three-story arcades with their sgraffito decor and Italian flair. The frescoes in the rooms are among the rare examples of secular painting from the 16th c. Or how about exploring the two-level chapel built by the Lords of Dachsberg in 1378? Located in the oldest part of the castle, it is in the best protected spot of all. After visiting it, you can see why. Incidentally, you can only enter the castle on a guided tour. Be prepared for one treasure after another. Another type of treasure is the diverse program of the music festival “Klangburg Rappottenstein” – music meets ancient walls. All this adds up to an extraordinary excursion.