Castle Hunting: Burg Hohenwerfen

It is amazing, in this part of the world, what a little digging around will produce. We came to Werfen, Austria, for the ice caves. We never made it underground, partly because we became fascinated by Burg Hohenwerfen, and by its nine hundred years of history. The fortress was built between 1075 and 1078 by Archbishop Gerhard of Salzburg, an ally of pope Gregory VII and of the antiking in a conflict I knew nothing about. The "Investiture Controversy" raged wild through this area - though it sounds like a town hall nepotism scandal, the controversy was one of the defining moments of the catholic church's medieval history.
When the young king Henry IV refused to allow pope Gregory to strip him of his right to appoint clergy, the church attempted to divest the Roman emperor (at that time, the emperor ruled Germany and Italy) of all of his religiously mandated powers. A series of moves created a schism between the bishops, and the territory they believed them, and those secular lords who remained loyal to the king. Eventually, it also produced an "antiking," Rudolf of Rheinfelden. King Henry was forced to give in to the papacy and beg forgiveness, barefoot in the snow. A few years later, however, Henry killed Rudolf, marched against Rome and caused pope Gregory to call upon the Normans for aid. The Normans ended up sacking Rome, which made the pope unpopular and forced him to flee. Henry restored imperial supremacy and then became entangled in other problems. It's a highly interesting conflict, and even more complicated than I've made it seem.
Burg Hohenwerfen sits on a 450 foot high outcropping of rock, deep in the folds of the Berchtesgaden Alps, built in preparation for an attack on the Salzburg bishops that never came. The central keep is built right around a pillar-like knob that extends up out of the trees. Earlier in its history the area around the walls would have been kept open as well, so that approaching forces could be seen more easily. The high tower - with the copper roof - is the centerpiece of the fortifications, and has the thickest walls. Lower crenelations spiral outward from this point, creating layers of defense; it would be almost impossible to attack the keep directly.
Lower walls became gradually less protective as the centuries passed and the castle's function became increasingly residential as opposed to warlike. After a fifteenth century sack by revolters during the German Peasant's War, which saw much of the building burned, the upper walls were opened up as well, reflecting a more peaceful period in the region's history.
Today, there's a restaurant and two gift shops, as well as several museum exhibits. A funicular climbs most of the way up to the castle, so overweight tourists don't get out of breath on the ten minute walk from the parking lot. It was a hot, sunny day when we visited and there was a falconry show going on in the lower forecourt. Some visitors were there for the castle itself, but I'm certain some were there because it was shown during a musical number in The Sound of Music.
The vistas, of course, are beautiful. The forecourt's been made into a nice, steep garden area, with pleasant places to sit and look out over the mountains.
Though we didn't really watch it, this was our second falconry show on the trip. From what we could see, it looked a lot like the first. More interesting (only slightly) was the museum of falconry in one of the outer towers. These are assorted hoods, used to keep the birds calm.
It took quite a bit of scampering around to get good shots of the walls - the valley's sides are steep and thickly forested. We ended up high on one slope in a cow pasture, where we decided it would be nice to have lunch. There was a handy spring and - surprisingly - a picnic table, where we could sit and enjoy the view.
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