No matter where one goes in Europe, one is bound to come in contact with castles. Many castles are intact, and many are in ruins. No matter their state, however, they are fun to visit. One of my favorite castles in Austria was the ruin Aggstein. Located in the Danube Valley’s Wachau region, just to the west of Vienna, Aggstein is rich in history. And the trip to the castle and back yields fine scenery. Not only that, but Aggstein is situated near other attractions, so once you have looked at the ghosts of history, it is possible to see some more modern attractions.
Aggstein is though to have been built originally in the early 12th Century. The main part of the castle was subject to siege over the centuries, and has been restored and various parts rebuilt, although much of the courtyard and other structures date from the time of the castle’s building. Part of the castle was restored in a Renaissance style in the year 1606. However, it too fell into disrepair. The final round of restorations to the main castle were completed by 1930. Now the castle can be visited by nearly anyone.
Visiting Aggstein is a rare treat because it receives few visitors. You are free to roam the ruin in relative peace. It’s location near the edge of the Danube in the middle of thick forest makes it a rather picturesque trip. Sitting at an outdoor café in the town of Schoenbuehel Aggsbach allows a lovely view across the water to the castle ruin. Every year a ball is held at Aggstein. This lovely ball takes place in the combined space of the knight’s hall (which is a new addition) and the burghoefe, in the main castle area. It is beautifully decorated and a wonderful way to spend a pleasant evening.
It is relatively inexpensive to visit the ruin, which is open daily March through October from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The cost is about five Euros apiece (which is between five and seven dollars, depending on the exchange rate). A guided tour costs a little extra.
It is possible to rent the newer knight’s hall for a variety of special occasions and dinners. The castle’s chapel is available to rent for weddings, baptisms, and christenings. It can be a fun way to enjoy the special events of one’s life. A destination wedding to an ancient castle is about as cool as it gets.