Burgruine Dürnstein/Dürnstein Castle Ruins
These stunning castle ruins are located in the Wachau Valley, Austria in the small, ancient picturesque village of Dürnstein.
Dating back to the 12th century, this ruin has had a long and rich history and is most famous for being the castle in which King Richard the Lionheart of England was imprisoned. Now however, it has long since fallen into ruin, leaving only castle walls and battlements which not only cover the hilltop but also reach down into the village below, winding through vineyards and gardens, creating a romantic and fantastical atmosphere.
The Wachau Valley has its own micro-climate and is hot and arid in the summer, perfect for the many vineyards and orchards you’ll find covering the hills and the valley below.
So, if you plan to visit in the summer months be prepared for temperatures of around 40C combined with a steep, exposed uphill climb.
Along the ascent you’ll find many info points that break up the climb, where you can find out more about the history of the ruins and the legends surrounding Richard Lionheart and his minstrel Blondel.
These info points vary from fun multilingual signs and pictures to more interactive or abstract points of interest.
Along the winding path you’ll find many viewpoints, most with a handy bench where you can sit and admire the sight of the valley below and the Danube river running through it (and you can catch your breath!).
When you reach the remains of the old castle gate you enter the first of several levels, each with their own discoveries and viewpoints. Just beyond the gate there are the remains of a tower and well, along with a large rock that’s often used to climb upon as the views from the top are quite stunning.
Continuing further up the hill you will find the bulk of the remains of the castle and breath-taking viewpoints.
On the second level you enter the main structures of the castle where windows layered along the height of the walls hint at the number of floors that would have once made up the inside of the castle. And stone archways stand tall inviting you through to explore some more.
Here you will also find a wonderful open viewing area with panoramic views of the valley and village below (including the famous blue church), complete with a backdrop of towering castle ruins.
Alongside the castle structures wildflowers grow out of the natural rock adding splashes of colour to the crumbling buildings.
An exposed stone stairway takes you up to the next level, allowing you to see the walls and structures of the second level from a higher perspective. The top level boasts the majority of the remaining castle structures with tall walls and lots of little windows and niches to explore.
This level is also home to a small dungeon built into the rock; a small and dark room with an understandably eerie feel. But even so, on a hot day the cool dark room can offer some welcome escape from the heat!
The top of the rock into which the dungeon has been cut, is used as another viewing platform. It is easy to climb as small steps have been carved into it and the surface of the top of the rock is relatively even with plenty of space for a group of people.
Here at the very top, 360 degree panoramic views welcome you. The views stretch from the forest covered hills to the river valley below, surrounded by the historic structures of the castle ruins. This is the perfect spot to rest and take in the sights around you, and perhaps take few pictures!
This wonderful destination is perfect for anyone with an interest in history and culture, or even those with a love of photography!
Additionally, there are also extensive hiking and walking trails in the area for those who like to wander as the site is part of the Wachau World Heritage Trail.
There is no entry fee and the site is open all year round.
Useful Links (English):
Photography prints and more are available on my Society6 page!