Knights’ castles, fortress ruins, manor houses and fairy tale castles. The stuff true holiday dreams are made of. Numerous imposing edifices stand sentinel in the Thermen- & Vulkanland, for families, art lovers and nature lovers alike.
Romantic, mysterious, historical, and brimming with adventure: castles and palaces have always held a magical appeal. We pass by walls and gateways that have stood for centuries. We wander through magnificent gardens, dine in spacious vaulted rooms, doze contentedly in stylish chambers, and feel like a veritable prince or princess, knight or damsel, lord or lady. But it doesn’t have to be merely a dream: many castles these days are only too pleased to accommodate paying guests. The fascinating thing about it is that you become part of a unique history every time you visit.
These majestic edifices take their visitors on an exciting journey through time in one of Europe’s most densely populated regions for castles. You’ll be reminded of how important these buildings were in the past. Built to defend the land and protect the transport routes, the castles in South Styria and the southern Burgenland continued to be fortified until the 17th century. In the second half of the 12th century, fortifications began to spring up along the eastern border of Styria as the threat of invasion from Hungary continued to loom; castles and knightly manors were also built, followed by expansions of towns such as Friedberg, Hartberg, Fürstenfeld and Bad Radkersburg. Castle-building began in earnest in the 12th and 13th centuries – the origin of the “Schlösserstraße” (“Castle Road”). “Kruzitürken” – this expression still alludes to two of the region’s main enemies (“Kuruc & Turks”) that were menacing the east in the 15th and 16th centuries, against whom the region sought to defend itself. To the ordinary folk, it was all the same: rebel lords, feuds, robbers and highwaymen, Hungary, Heyducks, Kuruc or Turks... It didn’t really matter who was threatening life and limb. These were unsettled times. This was especially the case from the 16th to the 18th century.
A popular tourist attraction has grown out of this once precarious border situation: the Castle Road, which impresses a wide range of visitors every year. The 37 castles, palaces and monasteries along the Schlösserstraße offer many opportunities:
A new experience on the Schlösserstraße is the Castle Road GeoTour. Karli the squire will accompany you on a wonderful hunt for hidden treasures, with exciting adventures to solve the mysteries of these venerable buildings. The GeoTour encompasses 26 castles and palaces in Austria and Slovenia. Geocaching is a popular new sport and is best described as a digital treasure hunt. A “cache” is a treasure marked with geo coordinates, which you use to locate it.
Exploring the Schlösserstraße gives you an insight into the experiences of a shared history, and creates innumerable touching moments through the events and occasions that it hosts. Every day is a highlight in the castle courtyards: with cultural springtimes, festival summers, culinary events and festive Christmas markets!
Tip: Some attractions on the Schlösserstraße offer their own tours for families – so that even very young guests can experience art, culture and history up close.
Open all your senses to cultural highlights, places rich in tradition and fascinating wonders of nature in the Thermen- & Vulkanland.