Schallaburg is one of the most decorative castles in Austria. The castle was first mentioned in the middle of 13th century, but it dates back in time a little earlier. Its almost 1000 years old and in all this time it belonged not to only one but to various noble families. In the middle of the 16th century Wilhelm von Losenstein owend Schallaburg. He started a big renovation, which piled up stones as well as high debts, and Schallaburg changed not only its appearance but also its owner. At the same time Schallaburg lost its significance as a center of Protestantism. Counter-Reformation took place and Catholicism was restored in Lower Austria. After several more owners during the following centuries and even more debts, Russians confiscated the castle at the end of WWII. Finally Schallaburg became property of Republic of Austria, when 1955 the Austrian Independence Treaty was signed. Castles are costly buildings. Either they belonged to a robber-knight, which Austrians were famous for – I feel almost sorry for King Richard -, who robbed peasants and travelers blind or they became another form of tourist trap.
Since the 1970s the beautiful castle is open for visitors as a museum with changing exhibitions. When we visited Schallaburg last Sunday, we also visited the current exhibition "Crafty Hands". Sadly I forgot to ask a couple of days ahead for permission to photograph inside of the museum so I can't neither post pictures from the attention-grabbing exhibition itself nor pictures of the impressive sarcophagus of Wilhelm Losenstein.
It doesn't matter, because the castle has many other interesting and attractive elements worthwhile to photograph - sadly, half a day is not enough! At least the weather was friendly enough although early in the afternoon the light was fading.
There are some eye catching parts no photographer want to miss, although the constantly changing light was merciless. The central court yard is one of them. Its artful design is unique in central Europe. A masterpiece designed from at least 1600 pieces of terra-cotta. The balcony with lots of decorative and different figurines is breathtaking. Some of the figurines are very famous. The lady with the dog head seems to be everybody’s darling, but I have to admit I liked the Jester - it seems it's not an original anymore - most of all. His smile is so inviting and he reminded me of the brilliant performance of Danny Kaye in The Court Jester. I’m sure I was leaving the balcony with a smile too.
The large tournament ground right in front of the castle was transformed into a formal Renaissance garden. The plans of it are well known and therefore it was possible to restore some parts of it. All in all I’m not surprised, that Wilhelm von Losenstein was broke after this complete makeover. Maybe the word "castle" is an unknown synonym for money pit?