Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Luxarazzi 101: Schloss Wilfersdorf

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Outside of Vienna and their ancestral home Burg Liechtenstein, Schloss Wilfersdorf is probably the most famous of the about 20 or so castles still owned by the Princely Family of Liechtenstein in Austria. Located in the Weinviertel (literally wine quarter) of Lower Austria, the castle is the seat of the Princely Wine Cellars, which has been producing wines for over 600 years (and which we must cover in an extra post one day)!

Schloss Wilfersdorf came into the possession of the Liechtenstein family in 1436 - and has remained so ever since. Firstly mentioned in 1328 when a castle in Wilfersdorf fell into the hands of King John of Bohemia, the estate was owned by various nobles prior to the Liechtensteins. In 1609, Gundakar of Liechtenstein converted the Gothic castle into a four-winged moated castle with bastions and outwork after the castle was seriously damaged during the wars against Hungary and the Counter-Reformation. He subsequently made the Schloss, at the time more a fortress, his main residence until around 1625. 

Between 1713 and 1721, Prince Anton Florian commissioned architect Anton Ospel to rebuild the castle in Baroque style according to the taste of the time. Ospel also erected various structures in the garden using stones from Moravský Krumlov, one of the Princely Family's Moravian properties. When Anton Florian died in 1721, the construction ended abruptly and only two years later some rooms were adapted to be used as storage place for corn. 

None of Anton Florian's successors took a major interest in Wilfersdorf and so Prince Alois had three of the castle's four wings demolished around 1802 because they had become dilapidated. The remaining building and surroundings were devastated by the French in 1809, became the seat of the local district court in 1848 and a Prussian military hospital in 1866 during the Austro-Prussian War. 40 German soldiers died of cholera at Schloss Wilfersdorf and were laid to rest at the local cemetery. 

There is not much known about the history of Schloss Wilfersdorf after that. During the Second World War, the castle was once again damaged but rebuilt soon after. In 2001 and 2002, the Schloss was extensively renovated. Although owned by the Foundation Prince Liechtenstein, parts of the building are rented by the local municipality and turned into a regional cultural centre. On the upper floors, an exhibition about the history of the House of Liechtenstein is shown and in the cellars there are - surprise, surprise - the Princely Wine Cellars.

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