While we were in Austria, we decided to visit the Hohenwerfen Castle, about 40 km south of Salzburg. It’s surrounded by the Berchtesgaden Alps, and has been towering over the town of Werfen for over 900 years!
Admittedly, one of the coolest things about Europe is driving around and seeing castle after castle nestled into the mountain tops.
We could have opted to take a footpath up the mountainside, but decided the funicular suited us (and the kids) best! Admission (including the easy ride up the mountain) was € 14.50 for adults, € 8.00 for kids, or € 33.00 for a family (families usually being limited to 2 or 3 children).
I’d love to see how they cut into the side of this fortress to create this dramatic entry! I would have also really loved to see what the footpath entry looked like, but I forgot to look.
Inside we found a small collection of tourists gathered to watch a shooting demonstration.
We wandered further down some stairs to a room that had a nice presentation of the history of the fortress.
The room included many models showing the castle grounds throughout different stages in history (it has the typical castle history of fires, rebuilding, etc). This is as the castle looks now.
We ventured further down the fortress grounds (pictured above on the left) in anticipation of a falconry flight demonstration (only available to view 2-3 times per day).
To say Hohenwerfen has a gorgeous setting would be a massive understatement. I could live with this view!
And this one!
We arrived before the crowds, but it wasn’t long until every bench was filled and the yard became crowded with eager spectators.
A “Falconer” brought out bird after bird (is it an insult to call a falcon simply a “bird”?) to demonstrate some of their trained skills. Most were very large, magnificent birds.
I believe the demonstration was only in German (if I remember correctly), so we didn’t learn much from it. However, we found it entertaining and a great excuse to sit there and enjoy those Alps!! The rain came and went, but it was worth getting a little wet!
The fortress included a Falconry Museum that shows the history of falconry and educates visitors on the biology and breeding of “Birds of Prey.” Falconry is the art of using trained Birds of Prey (mainly golden eagles, falcons and goshawks) for hunting. The hunting tradition dates back over 4,000 years (to Asia) and has been very popular throughout the Eurasian Continent throughout history. They had a display that showed the various castle occupants over the years, and how they all had a passion for falconry. Hunting heaven in past centuries, I guess.
the history goes beyond just falconry, however. In the 11th Century it served mostly as a military base, protecting archbishops and archdukes from enemies, as well as keeping prisoners locked up behind the impenetrable castle walls.
The castle features an armory and arsenal display that show various weapons throughout history.
Back in the central court, displays by staff continued to take place. This time the shooting demonstration had been replaced by some creative juggling by the court jester, I assume.
The castle has set guided tour times (in German), and audio tours are available in nine other languages. I was very curious to see the kitchen, battlements, bell tower and residential rooms, but the line for the tour start was long and it didn’t seem likely the kids would be up for a slow guided tour throughout the castle with headphones on. :: sigh :: Oh, well. Maybe next time?
We instead started our descent, but not before befriending an Israeli couple (and their children) in the funicular, and learning about a cow event they had heard about in a nearby town.
A cow event? Our interest was piqued. We would head that way, just in case it was worth visiting.
Meanwhile, I also noticed a sign publicizing a 15% discount to the Liechtensteinklamm Gorge with our Hohenwerfen ticket. A gorge nearby? Again…our curiosity would win out…and we set off with a few new unplanned experiences awaiting our discovery!