Day 40 - Oh Look, a Castle

Monday 4th August 2014 

We are really getting good at this camping lark. In an hour and a half we are showered, coffee'd up, and the bikes are packed ready for the off. Including scoffing Brötchen, butter and jam from the camp shop.

So we are queued up ready to buy tickets for Hochosterwitz Castle at 9am opening time. Not for us the cog and chain ski-lift to the top installed for the tourists. Real men assault this bugger the way nature intended. It's a hell of a slog up through the 14 gates but someone has to do it. And that of course is us.

The first gate

The second gate

And another

There have been fortifications here since prehistoric times. The first mention in chronicles was in 1200. The castle as it looks today was created by Georg Khevenhüller von Aichelberg in the mid-16th century and remained in the Khevenhüller Family for many years.

The emphasis was on defence. The castle is built into and on a 1500 metre high tower of limestone that dominates the valley for miles around. The winding road up to the fortress has 14 separate defensive gates with drawbridges across deep canyons, portcullises and artfully constructed firing angles covering every possible approach. Nobody was getting in here.
OK that's enough gates - Ed.

And they never did. The Turks besieged the castle a number of times but had to retreat empty-handed each time. At the top there is a pretty castle and flower gardens and then the mighty fortress itself. The views are stupendous. In the main courtyard at the top there is a cafe and museum.

It costs €12 for an adult, extra if you want to use the lift. It's an amazing experience. My daughter reckons I have finally found Hogwarts!

The citadel at the summit

Having arrived at opening time we are back on the road by noon. It's a fast run down to the Slovenian border on the Predil Pass, the autobahn bypassing busy Klagenfurt and Villach on the way.

We stop for pasta at the cafe on the lake at Predil then swoop back down the Soca Valley to Kobarid and another night of camping at Kamp Koren (rapidly becoming an old haunt for me, this is my 5th visit). 

Tomorrow Croatia, another new country on this tour.

Thats enough words. Let the pictures tell the story. 

Dominating all you see..

Looks like a village street

Impressive walls

The well in the citadel courtyard

Looking down at the church

Awesome view

In the blacksmith's shop

Castle gardens
The lake on Predil Pass
And into Slovenia

Farewell Hochosterwitz



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