Werfen Things to Do

  • Eisriesenwelt - visitors centre entrance
    Eisriesenwelt - visitors centre entrance
    by jojes
  • Eisriesenwelt - the hole where the entrance is
    Eisriesenwelt - the hole where the...
    by jojes
  • Eisriesenwelt - the hole at the entrance
    Eisriesenwelt - the hole at the entrance
    by jojes

Most Recent Things to Do in Werfen

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    Eisriesenwelt - the way up

    by jojes Updated Jan 12, 2014

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    Eisriesenwelt - the hole at the entrance
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    I think the way up to the Eisriesenwelt ice caves deserves a review of it's own.
    on a clear day you have a stunning view over the underlying area. On top of that you have a marvellous view at the Festung Hohenwerfen.

    You start at the visitor centre where you buy the entrance tickets. You now have to walk for 15-20 minutes to reach the cable car station. You can go for a shortcut through a tunnel of you can take a more scenic route overlooking the valley.
    When you arrive at the cable car, there's also a small restaurant. This is an ideal place for those who don't want to go along to the caves and prefer to wait while having a nice view.
    This cable car is the steepest in it's kind in Europe. Picture 3 was taken from the cable car looking down, but the picture doesn't do justice to the steepness it really is.
    When the cable car reaches the top, you'll have another 15-20 minutes to the caves. You'll walk through some galleries build to protect you from falling rocks.
    Keep in mind that it's a constant climb up, so don't push too hard at the start ... It's not a difficult walk, but I can imagine when it's hot some people might take a bit longer to reach the caves' entrance.
    The entire way between the visitors centre and the entrance to the caves is without guide, so you can easliy go your own pace. I can very much advise not to rush too much and to take some time taking in the beauty of the surroundings.

    When you reach the top station of the cable car, you're right next to the restaurant Dr. Oedl House. It has a large terrace overlooking the valley. There's also a kiosk where you can buy some refreshments. We haven't eaten there yet, so I can't comment on the quality of the food.

    For those that are a bit braver than me: you can also walk the entire way to the caves instead of taking the cable car. Of course this takes up some time.
    On our first visit in 1997 we didn't know yet what to expect of the path. So we decided on walking down instead of taking the cable car. I can honestly say that it's wasn't my kind of path. I'm quite afraid of heights (but strangely never in cable cars ...) and I can really say that I was really happy to reach solid ground again.
    The entire path is quite narrow. One part in particular wasn't my cup of tea. It was a quite steep part with all loose gravel. You litterally had to climb uphill, sliding down again while walking, to reach the path on the other side. You can see how it looks like in picture 5.
    So to all with fear of heights: take the cable car!

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    Eisriesenwelt - Fantastic ice caves

    by jojes Updated Jan 12, 2014

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    Eisriesenwelt - visitors centre entrance
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    Eisriesenwelt makes for a fantastic visit. I can very much recommend it as a visit for the entire family.
    The only thing you have to take into consideration is that inside the cave you have to climb a lot of stairs, 700 up and then 700 down again.
    The walk to the caves is on a decent path but goes uphill the entire way.

    About the Werfen caves
    The Werfen ice cavesystem is the largest one in the entire world. The entire length in the limestone rocks is over 40 kilometres.
    The caves started forming about 100 million years ago. The intruding water eroded the enormous spaces that we can visit today.
    When we visited in August 2013 we had a great guide (I think his name is Dominic). He told us that only the first part of the caves is covered in ice. The oldest ice inside the caves is around 5.000 years old. The youngest pillar is 5-6 years old, the biggest one about 50 years.
    The galleries transport the cold like a chimney, thus leading it inside the caves and the 'rooms'.
    In wintertime, the temperature inside is warmer then outside. Cold air enters and the temperature inside cools down. Ice is formed by the water dripping inside, creating spectacular formations and hugely impressive walls of ice.

    When the entrance door to the caves opens, you'll feel a huge blow of cold zind coming out ... In summertime windspeeds up to 90 kms per hour are no exception during the warmer days. When the cold air at the lowest point of the cave (the entrance) comes into contact with the warmer air outside causes this effect.

    The visit
    The visit to the interior of the caves takes about 75 minutes. But for the entire visit I would count about 3 to 3,5 hours, taking into consideration the way up and the waiting time ... and also of course the time you spend to take in the surroundings.

    When visiting the caves, you start at the visitor centre where you buy the entrance tickets.
    From there it's about a 20-minute walk to where the cable car starts. This cable car is the steepest in Europe.
    When you are at the top station, it's another 20 minutes to the entrance of the caves.
    The way up can be done on your own at your own pace. But the visit inside the caves is only accompagnied by a guide.
    The entrance to the caves lies at an altitude of little under 1.600 metres. The highest point you visit inside the caves in at over 1.700 metres high. So inside you have to 'overcome' 134 altitude metres, by climbing some 700 stairs up ... and of course 700 down again.
    The lighting inside the caves is by hand-held lamps. The guide will light up some of the ice formations by using magnesium lights. Because of this limited lighting inside it's of course very important to stay together and not wander behind.

    That's also one of the reasons why it's not allowed to take photo of video inside the caves. As a sign of respect towards the other people in the group, please don't attempt in doing so. It can be very irritating for the other people in the group to constantly have to wait for one or two individuals who are staying behind, around the bend in the path, to try and do what's not allowed! When we visited in 2013, there were some in our group who - although the guide repeatedly asked them not to do so - kept staying behind when they thought he wasn't watching. This was very annoying to us others, who were irritated by the fact that we constantly had to wait (they had no lights with them). Also the fact that we were obeying the rules and they didn't ... And instead of apologizing and letting it be, they laughed and went on with doing what they wanted ...
    The picture taking is forbidden for 'natural' reason, because the lights of the flashes impacts the natural and very delicate environment of these marvellous caves.
    The question to not taking pictures has nothing to do with the selling of postcards ... In their website they even state themselves that all the pictures they have published can freely be used by anyone for private reason ... So no money involved there ...
    Of course they sell a usb-stick containing 25 pictures in the shop, but I was told that those are the exact same ones as the ones you can find online.
    The last 2 pictures are from inside the caves. I've taken these from the ERW website ... I didn't take any myself inside the caves.

    A visit to ERW is not only for a 'bad weather day'. On a sunny and clear day it makes for a great visit too ... Only then you can enjoy the fantastic scenery during the way up to the fullest.

    &B&UPlease keep in mind: dress properly&B&U
    The temperature inside the caves is almost constant around freezing during the entire year, so even when it's really hot in summer it's really necessary to dress appropriately. Aldo please don't wear decent shoes. I've seen people there wearing partly open shoes or girls with 'ballerina-type' shoes ... not a good idea. It can get slippery inside plus there are a lot of stairs to climb ...

    Getting there
    A well-paved road of about 5 kms length leads from the town of Werfen up to the parking lots at the visitors centre.
    If you're driving an RV, it might be too steep at some point (21%). Best to leave your vehicle in the parking lots (no charge) near the local departure space of the local bus.
    More info on how to reach it can be found here.
    The local bus service also takes you up to the visitors centre. It leaves at 8.20 a.m., 10.20 a.m., 12.20 p.m. and 2.20 p.m at the Werfen railway station. Outside these times you can call for an extra arrangement (0043/(0)6468/5293 or eisriesenwelt.linie@aon.at). More detail on the bus service can be found by clicking on this link.

    Opening hours (2013)
    daily from May 1 until October 26

    Ticket office at the visitors centre:
    May, June, Sept., Oct.: 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. / last ride up by cable car: 3.20 p.m. / last start of the cave tour: 3.45 p.m.
    July, August: 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. / last ride up by cable car: 4.20 p.m. / last start of the cave tour: 4.45 p.m.
    Please note that the cave tour starts at the entrance of the cave, so make sure you get up there in time.

    Prices (2013)
    Adults: 20 euros
    Children 15 y.: 10 euros
    This price includes the entrance to the caves as well as the fare for the cable car up and down.

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    Fortress Hohenwerfen

    by jojes Updated Aug 5, 2013

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    Fortress Hohenwerfen
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    One of our favorite visits when in Austria is this fortress. We've been there so often already, but still love it.

    The fortress lies on top of a 113 metres high hill, overlooking the Salzach valley.
    When driving to Werfen, you can already see it dooming up in front of you long before you reach the town itself.
    The best view is when coming from the south, then you see the fortress like you can see it in the main picture here. You can clearly see that there is quite a height difference between in outer courtyard to the right and the actual castle itself.

    To get up to the castle the easiest way is to take the lift. It leaves directly at the cash desk at the parking lot on foot of the hill. You exit it next to the inner courtyard.
    Another option is to walk up the hill to the castle. This is the way we have done it most ... simply because the lift has only been put there since a couple of years. It makes for a nice walk on a very decent path. The walk takes about 15-20 minutes. You enter the fortress at the cash desk in an archway at the outer courtyard. This is where the falconry museum is and also where the flight demonstrations are held (see my tip). Keep in mind that the climb from the outer courtyard to the castle itself is quite steep ... best not to wear flip-flops at your feet here ...

    History of the fortress
    For more info on the history of the fortress, check my travelogue 1 and travelogue 2.

    The visit
    The visit to the castle is certainly interesting. The tour lasts about 1 hour and is included in your ticket price.
    Please keep in mind that the tour is not accessible to wheelchair users and with children's strollers.

    You can have a German spoken tour with a "live" guide. If you want the tour in another language (E/I/F/NL/CZ/ESP/RUS/H) you can take the tour with an audio guide (always accompagnied by a guide). There are several tours every day. The tours leave from the inner courtyard. There are 2 lines to queue at: audio guide and German spoken, so make sure you're in the right queue.
    For more info on the tour, visit my travelogue 1 and travelogue 2.
    I've made a small video of our last visit in august 2012.

    For more info on the "Landesfalkenhof" with the museum and the flight performances, see my other tip on Hohenwerfen.

    Prices 2013
    Adults: 11,00 € - 14,50 € incl. lift
    Groups & students: 9,50 € - 12,50 € incl. lift
    Children (6–15 years): 6,00 € - 8,00 € incl. lift
    Family ticket: 25,00 € - 33,00 € incl. lift
    Events have special prices.

    Timetable of the castle tours
    April & October: 10.00, 12.00, 13.00, 14.00, 16.00
    May until September: 10.00, 12.00, 13.00, 14.00, 16.00, 17.00
    22 July until 16 August: 10.00 to 18.00
    There can be extra tours if the number of visitors requires this.

    Opening hours 2013: fortress will be open from 29 March until 3 November 2013
    April & October: 9.30 - 16.00 (closed on mondays in april)
    May until September: 9.00 - 17.00
    from 22 July until 16 August: 9.00 - 18.00

    Also check their program to see if there are any interesting special events going on ... on set days there are special programs with music, middle-aged themed celebrations and tournaments, falconry programs, ...: event calendar.

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    Fortress Hohenwerfen - the state falconry

    by jojes Updated Aug 5, 2013

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    Falconry Hohenwerfen - in full flight
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    The state falconry - housed here in fortress Hohenwerfen - is the location of the first ever museum of falconry in Austria. It offers an interesting exhibit on the history of falconry in the world.
    The explanation on birds of prey is quite thorough.

    The explanation for the falconry being here is simple: in the past, one of the uses for Hohenwerfen was as a hunting base for one the Salzburg's archbishops. Falconry has been very popular among the nobles ever since the middle ages.

    From the beginning of april to the end of october there are daily shows with the birds of prey from the falconry. During this show the falconers give you more explanation about the different birds of prey and on falconry in general. Depending of the falconer giving the explanation, we've already heard it in English and Italian, but of course mostly in German.

    During the flight the birds very often fly right above the heads of the spectators. Some of them even land amidst the people sitting on the lawn ... (see my video).

    There is a falconry trail leading you next to the birds that are kept and trained here.
    Information signs tell you more about the species shown here.
    They have several kinds of birds they work with: several kinds of falcons, owls, eagles, vultures, ...
    You can see these birds from very close by on this trail. The birds on this trail aren't kept in cages, but they have a band to the foot that is tied down. They can't fly up, but they still have quite some freedom to move around.

    If you enter the fortress by lift, you enter the fortress at the inner courtyard.
    To go to the outer courtyard where the museum is and the flight demonstrations are held, you have to walk down. There are signs with directions when you exit the lift.
    If you decide to walk on foot up to the castle, you enter at the cash desk right at the entrance of the outer courtyard, so you're immediately in the right place.

    The entrance fee to the show and the museum is included in the price of the fortress.

    The museum is continuously accessible during opening times of the fortress.

    Opening hours 2013: fortress will be open from 29 March until 3 November
    April & October: 9.30 - 16.00 (closed on mondays in april)
    May until September: 9.00 - 17.00
    from 22 July until 16 August: 9.00 - 18.00

    Timetable of flight performances
    29 March until 3 November: daily at 11.15 and 15.15
    from 22 July until 16 August: daily at 11.15, 14.15 and 16.30

    Also check their program to see if there are any interesting special events going on ... on set days there are special programs with music, middle-aged themed celebrations and tournaments, falconry programs, ...: event calendar.

    For more pictures on the falconry, check this travelogue.

    For more info on prices and guided tours of the fortress, check my tip on fortress Hohenwerfen itself.

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  • Janni67's Profile Photo

    Fortress of Werfen

    by Janni67 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Hohenwerfen Castle 155 meters high.

    Hohenwerfen castle which is situated high (155 m) above the river Salzach was built by the archbishops, who ruled Salzburg as independent princes until the Napoleonic Wars. The fortification is a "sister" of Hohensalzburg Fortress and also dates back to the 11th century. It was an important fortress controlling the approach to Salzburg from the south. It's very strategically positioned in the beginning of the narrow Lueg Pass.

    Throughout its history, Hohenwerfen has been built out and rebuilt and its' present day appearance dates back to the 16th century. The fortress served as a prison for many centuries. In 1931, a fire broke out in the very centre of the fortress, ruining many buildings and pieces of art. Although times were hard, the owner at the time, Archduke Eugene, ordered it to be rebuilt, and in 1932 the restoration was completed. Apart from minor changes with roofs, the fortress was rebuilt as before.

    In 1938, the Federal State of Salzburg got the management of Hohenwerfen. During WWII it was used by the nazis as a district training camp, and from 1945 to 1987 it housed the Austrian Gendarmerie School (a Police Academy). On the 1st of July 1987 the fortress was opened to the public. Today the castle is used as an "adventure castle" of events such as concerts, theater performances and folklore evenings as well as castle celebrations. You can also get married here :)

    You can reach the fortress by a 15 minutes' walk from the town or a castle taxi.

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    Hohenwerfen as an Adventure Castle

    by Janni67 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Falcon flight demonstration

    The fortress also houses the Austrian Museum of Falconry. In 1990 began the first public demonstrations of the art of falcon hunting, which has proved to be a great success. Nowadays they offer daily flight demonstrations with various birds. The demonstrations take place daily at 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. and they last approx. 40 minutes each.

    Rates and hours of admission:

    Incl. admission, tour of the castle, tour of the fortifications. Visit to the Salzburg Falconry Center with flight demonstration and the First Austrian Falconry Museum, special exhibit.

    Adults 9,00 €
    Adults, reduced 7,50 €
    Children (6-15 years) 4,50 €
    Family Card 20,00 €

    Hours of admission:
    Closed Mondays in April
    April, October, November 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
    May, June, September 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
    July, August 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

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    The world´s largest ice cave

    by blumia Written Jun 4, 2006

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    Conceald within the Tennengebirge mountain range is a system of caves over 40 km in length containing a unique natural phenomen. The lower parts of the cave are colled by the passage of cold wind in winter and the thaw water freezes as it trickles in, forming gigantic ice figures. This is the largest ice cave in the world and the kilometre of prepared paths take you up and down numerous steps. The guided tours provide scientific and historical background and explain the ice formations in detail.Electric lighting has not been there- the visitors receive hand-held davy lamps.
    temperatur: around 0 centigrade
    cloth: sturdy shoes and warm clothes
    steps: you have to climb many stairs in the cave, so the visit is not recommended to handicaped people
    time: you should allow 3 hours for the whole visit.
    photography: in the cave filming an photography are not allowed!!!
    daily open from May until October

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    Historic falconry

    by blumia Written Jun 4, 2006

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    Hohenwerfen Fortress

    Guided tours of the fortress, weapons exhibition and adated state room daily.
    Audio guide
    Sound and light installation about the history of the castle.
    Spectacular festival weekends with countless attractions.
    Historic fortress tavern, Medieval knights shop.
    Panorama lift
    Museum History Point Hohenwerfen

    Historic falconry with daily flight performances: professional falconeers demanstrate classical falconry and birds of prey held in an environment corresponding to their natural habitats.

    You can although have a " Ritterschmaus " in the Burgschenke Hohenwerfen

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    Walk around the town

    by leplaya Written Dec 21, 2005

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    This is a pretty small town, but it is worth walking around the center of town. Markt street is a nice place to start. It is lined by a row of guesthouses, restaurants, a church and some antique stores. Everyone is very nice here. There is also a tourist center that will give you tips on the area around.

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    Eisriesenwelt Werfen

    by leplaya Written Dec 21, 2005

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    The cave's enterance
    3 more images

    This is an amazing cave is located 1641 m above sea level near the town of Werfen. It has ice formations that have been growing for the last 100 years. The guided tour takes you along a path through various rooms that contain strange ice formations. The formations are very different from the normal stalagtites and stalagmites you see in normal caves. Through the tour, every once in a while the guide burns a very bright light that show the strange formations and light up the room in a bright blue color. The tour is fairly long and it is pretty cold in there (below freezing), so be well rested and bring extra layers to wear. Getting there is also an adventure. You can either drive or take a shuttle from near the train station to a parking lot. From there you need to follow the road up the mountain for about 20 minutes (great views). Then you need to take a cable car further up the mountain. Finally, another 20 minute walk will get you to the cave's enterance. It takes a lot of effort and costs about 20 euros for the shuttle, cable car and entrance fee, but it is well worth it. Make sure you get there early so you don't have to wait in line long and get enough time to see everything. The tour is in German and English.

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    Eisriesenwelt

    by argentia Written Sep 26, 2005

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    Warming up after walking in the caves

    These are the world's largest ice caves. Essentially, water comes through the cracks in the mountain and freeze there over winter. There are huge ice formations (one is 30 feet high!) and caverns made of just ice. The largest is at the top, a 60m x 40m room of sheer ice. It looks like crystal!

    There are no lights in the caves (to keep the ice from melting) so each pair is given an oil lamp to carry. You walk single file along ice paths, wooden platforms, and metal stairs, up 700 steps until you're only 400m from the top of the mountain.

    The guides are really informative, and our guy (Erik) climbed up on the formations and talked about them with his lantern making cool special effects on the walls.

    Be warned: it's really cold! Gloves are a must, a hat helps too.

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    Tour Hohenwerfen

    by rharlan Updated Jul 27, 2004

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    Our Son''s Wedding in The Chapel

    Why was this so special?--because my son and his wife were married in the chapel at Hohenwerfen Castle. After the wedding, coffee and strudel was served. While the bride and groom posed for photos, guests were treated to a tour of the castle. Audio guides are available in various languages, so both the German and English speaking guests were able to appreciate the historical importance of this fortress.

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    Hohenwerfen Castle

    by Gentleman75 Written Jul 19, 2004

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    Hohenwerfen Castle

    Approx. 40 km south of the city of Salzburg, Hohenwerfen Castle towers above the Salzach Valley as a strategic bulwark built atop a 155 meter rock. The castle is majestically surrounded by the mighty Tennengau and Hagen mountain ranges. The fortification is a "sister" of Hohensalzburg Fortress and also dates back to the 11th century. The Salzburg district administration took possession of the castle in 1938. It was used as a training camp by the Austrian rural police until 1987. It was enlarged and renovated several times over the centuries.

    Hohenwerfen served as a prison for many centuries. Rulers such as Archbishop Adalbert III (1198), Graf Albert von Friesach (1253), the Styrian governor Siegmund (1525) and Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau (1611) were held captive here.

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    Hohenwerfen Castle

    by Gentleman75 Written Jul 19, 2004

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    At the entrance of the Castle

    Approx. 40 km south of the city of Salzburg, Hohenwerfen Castle towers above the Salzach Valley as a strategic bulwark built atop a 155 meter rock. The castle is majestically surrounded by the mighty Tennengau and Hagen mountain ranges. The fortification is a "sister" of Hohensalzburg Fortress and also dates back to the 11th century. The Salzburg district administration took possession of the castle in 1938. It was used as a training camp by the Austrian rural police until 1987. It was enlarged and renovated several times over the centuries.

    Hohenwerfen served as a prison for many centuries. Rulers such as Archbishop Adalbert III (1198), Graf Albert von Friesach (1253), the Styrian governor Siegmund (1525) and Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau (1611) were held captive here.

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    Hohenwerfen Castle

    by Gentleman75 Written Jul 19, 2004

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    Hohenwerfen Castle

    Approx. 40 km south of the city of Salzburg, Hohenwerfen Castle towers above the Salzach Valley as a strategic bulwark built atop a 155 meter rock. The castle is majestically surrounded by the mighty Tennengau and Hagen mountain ranges. The fortification is a "sister" of Hohensalzburg Fortress and also dates back to the 11th century. The Salzburg district administration took possession of the castle in 1938. It was used as a training camp by the Austrian rural police until 1987. It was enlarged and renovated several times over the centuries.

    Hohenwerfen served as a prison for many centuries. Rulers such as Archbishop Adalbert III (1198), Graf Albert von Friesach (1253), the Styrian governor Siegmund (1525) and Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau (1611) were held captive here.

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    • Architecture
    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons

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