(I couldn’t get the “review this castle” form to work at that site linked below, so I’m just reprinting here what I submitted…)
Hochosterwitz is a wonderful castle, and I make an effort to visit everytime I’m in the vicinity. I’ve been there numerous times, most recently last weekend with the family. The approach is unique, passing through 14 fortified gates; it is also quite steep, which is a disadvantage if you are carrying a stubborn 5-year old. From a distance the castle, especially in brilliant autumn light, is just fantastic to look at, like something out of a fanciful hollywood movie about dragons. The view from the castle itself is just as striking, as the surrounding landscape is quite beautiful. Minus: the interior of the castle does smell quite musty in places.
The 14 fortified gates, though, each with its own specific means of defense, are what keep me going back, and what gives this castle a special place in my mental register of castles. As I struggled up the slippery gravel path this Saturday, with Gamma on my shoulders, her be-mittened hands over my eyes, I imagined the meeting in the castle 500 years ago to plan the gates.
King: I’m thinking something with pitch.
Knight 1: Flaming pitch.
Architect: No problem. We’ll put slits *here*, you just stand above and pour out flaming pitch when they stand underneath.
King: I like.
Knights:[in unison] Yeah, that rocks.
Architect: Rocks? No problem. In the next gate, they can throw rocks down at people.
Knight L33tb0y666: [whispered aside to fellow knight] D00d, did you notice our table is round? That is *so* dark ages.
King: [to knight l33tb0y666] Good Sir Knight, you would care to share your kind words with the rest of us assembled here?
Knight L33tb0y666: Ahem. Eh, I was thinking like a drawbridge. Or wait, a bridge that suddenly drops away when everyone is standing on it, and they plunge down the mountain! Or, this would be cool, a bridge that looks normal, you know, only it’s mounted on this axle going crossways in the middle, so when they walk past the halfway point, it tips forward and they…
King: Plunge down the mountain! I love it. I love all of them.
Architect: No prob, that’s gates 6, 7 and 8 then.
King: So how many gates we have then so far?
Architect: Eh, [counts] 14.
King: Any other ideas?
Black Knight: How about butterflies?
Black Knight: Butterflies. Enemy soldiers rush into a gatehouse, a gate crashes down behind them, butterflies swarm out and they can’t see anything with all these butterflies flying around, they’d be easy prey!
Black Knight: You have any ideas how territorial a butterfly is?
Red Knight: [snicker] Attack butterflies, great.
Black Knight: Good knight, you making light of butterflies? They’re vicious, worms with wings!
King: They there. But, what about in winter? How would we keep the butterflies? They’re seasonal aren’t they?
The head of the guard in the castle was this giant, 2.25 meters tall, which is what, over 7 feet. Carrying Gamma up the mountain with no resistance was bad enough. Imagine fighting your way up past 14 heavily fortified gates, then you reach the top and there’s Andre the Giant standing there in armor. Feh.
The castle was never taken by force. Who’d want it, nice view, but totally musty.