My suggestion to the children of a castle outing on Saturday was met with reluctance and rolled eyes, and I could see the gears in their heads desperately searching for an excuse not to have to look at Yet. Another. Castle.   That is, until I mentioned that this particular castle was built atop a dormant volcano.

Named the “strongest fortress of Christianity,” Burg Riegersburg towers nearly 500m above Styria and does not fail to impress upon approach. The castle dates to the 12th century; the Princely Family of Liechtenstein owns the imposing structure and live in the town proper. I get that; I wouldn’t want to be dragging groceries up that hill each week, either.
A lift takes visitors to the top.

Why, yes, the views from the castle are breathtaking.

Nearly 3 kilometers of defensive, double-layered walls (and a moat) once surrounded the castle. Most of the walls are still intact, too!

 

 

The Rittersaal (Knights Hall) is particularly impressive for the intricate wooden doors and ceiling.

The ceilings of the private chambers were covered with art.

Added later was the Baroque Weiß Saal (White Hall), transformed in summer months into the grand dining room.

 

Within the castle is an exhibit about a dark period in Styria’s history and the witch trials that dominated the 16th and 17th century. In the largest trial in a neighboring village, over 95 men and women were accused of making “bad weather” (thunderstorms and lightning), found guilty, and sentenced to death.

Justification for these trials and death sentences came from this “guide” to witch hunting, where “scientific evidence” is offered to support whatever prejudice one might have in order to properly accuse one of witchcraft. I’m sure it’s an enlightening read.

 

The arms and armor collection entertained the boys.

Every castle needs a princess.

After touring we spread our picnic lunch on a grassy hill beneath the castle, with the children declaring, “Now that was a real castle.”