Schloss Aigen Palace: Castle in Salzburg′s South
Schloss Aigen is a palace or castle in the south of Salzburg, in the district of the same name (Aigen). It is private property and in principle not open to the general public, but its church is a popular wedding venue and the parks around it are highly appreciated by locals as a recreational area.
Schloss Aigen Palace is situated right at the base of Mount Gaisberg, which adds to its appeal - alongside with a well-known restaurant in one of the former administrative buildings of Schloss Aigen. The extensive parks of Schloss Aigen are not as well-kept as they used to be, but the romantic landscape with a waterfall and gorge is still a good justification for a little walk there.
Since 1921, the castle is owned by the Counts von Revertera, descendants of the once noble family still own it today; alas, they don′t live there, since the castle itself is in somewhat bad shape.
History of Schloss Aigen & its Park
Historically, Schloss Aigen Palace has first made its appearance in written documents in 1402 as an agricultural facility that belonged to the Domkapitel (the "board of directors" of the diocese). It changed owners a few times until the local nobleman Levin von Mortaigne purchased the farmhouse and the associated land in 1614. The transformed it from an agricultural facility into a rural chateaux with extensive parks.
The water falls and springs of Schloss Aigen were first mentioned in the 16th century; in the Baroque age, they were among the most famous springs of Salzburg and rivalled the significance of spa towns such as Bad Gastein with its Gasteiner Wildbad. The springs were said to have medical properties. In the early 17th century, the fame of the springs slowly faded out.
After the death of the last Montaigne in 1647, there were several changes in ownership: First the Knights von Prankh owned Schloss Aigen; then Count Johann Josef von Kuenburg bought the property in 1673; Franz Josef Waldherr gained ownership over the castle in 1727.
The Peak Era of Schloss Aigen Castle
With Franz Josef Waldherr, Schloss Aigen saw its glorious peak: He had the parks re-developed into a landscape garden that was the base for what you see today. Basil von Amman was the next owner and continued the development of the garden by building all sorts of follies: Little temples, grottos, benches. Typical features for the then still modern and new landscape gardens of the late Baroque age. Another typical feature for this age was the emergence of secret societies and Gnostic orders.
One of these orders, the Illuminati (recently brought to fame again via a popular novel by Dan Brown), made the parks of Schloss Aigen their regional headquarter and secret assembly place. Regardless of what the da Vinci Code tells you or how Gnostic/pseudo-religious these societies presented themselves, their had primarily a political agenda in the spirit of enlightenment. Thus, they were not very popular with conservative rulers, such as the Prince Archbishop of Salzburg or most of the Habsburg Family.
What followed was another series of owners, each of whom added bits and pieces to the parks of Schloss Aigen: Willibald Wolfegg ("anglicised" the park in 1780); Count Hieronymus von Lodron; Prince Ernst von Schwarzenberg. By the 19th century, the parks of Schloss Aigen were among the most famous landscape gardens in Europe; King Ludwig I liked them so much that he wrote poems about them.
Schloss Aigen & the parks since 1921
The Revertera family, who purchased the palace in 1921, was almost continuous owner since then; only during the Nazi rule and just after the war, Schloss Aigen served first as a base for the Reichsarbeitsdienst (a compulsory Nazi youth labour program) and later as an educational facility for the German Red Cross; until 1948, the Halleiner Schulschwestern nuns lived here before they purchased Schloss Emsburg at the Hellbrunner Allee.
Both palace and parks have seen better days; the turbulent history and frequent change of owners especially until 1921 are responsible for the wild mix of styles that you will find, ranging from early Baroque to Rococo, Classicism, Biedermeier (sort of a Central European Regency) and Historicism.
Nonetheless, we consider Schloss Aigen a good place for half-a-day-trips in case you spend an extended period of time in Salzburg and you want to explore some nature in the immediate surroundings. You can easily get there either by bicycle or city busses.
Hidden Treasures of Salzburg
Salzburg Province on Schloss Aigen
German Wikipedia on Schloss Aigen
Website of the Restaurant at Schloss Aigen