photo : Joel Olives
Running through the history of Kapfenstein Castle in Styria, is a clear theme of romance, roses and the 1945 invasion by Russians – all eventually leading to the epicurean delights of a top class restaurant.
And in addition to this, we’ve got a KGB connection too!
Dating back to 1065, Kapfenstein Castle was originally constructed as a fortress to fend off the Asiatic horsemen (Huns and Turks) who sought to invade Austrian land. It’s built on top of an extinct volcanic cone and affords 360° views including - on a clear day – right into neighbouring Hungary and Slovenia. These panoramic views take in the extensive and world class wine making vineyards of south east Austria in the province of Styria.
Since 1918 Kapfenstein Castle has been owned by the ancient Styrian family, Winkler-Hermaden. When its days as a fortification were over, the castle became a family home. In more recent times, the modern day Winkler-Harmaden family have turned this imposing property into a luxurious hotel, with ancient roses around the door and a world class vineyard on its volcanic slopes. They even make their own home grown oak casks in which the wine is stored!
With romantic rooms and its own wedding chapel in the grounds, Kapfenstein Castle is further graced by a magnificent restaurant that gets rave reviews from its delighted diners. It’s one of many castles you can visit on the super ‘Schloβ Straβe’ route through Styria.
The Russian Army
But life was not always so rosy and sweet smelling for the castle dwellers. As the struggles with Germany in WWΙΙ soared, the Allied Forces of USA, UK France and Russia agreed that Austria would be jointly occupied and divided into 4 occupation zones once rid of the Third Reich.
In the dark days of war in 1945, the Russian Army invaded Kapfenstein Castle without reference to its Western allies. And over the following 10 years the Russians proved to be a source of further pain for the Austrian people. Abuse was rife and Police records from the time show that ‘men in Soviet uniform’ accounted for 90% of crime in the country!
Today’s Kapfenstein Castle is a much happier place and most worthy of a visit if you’re in the superb Styrian wine making region. Share the ‘diner’s delight’ and consider it an alternative experience to being the king of your own castle when staying at this charming rustic style chalet in the west of the region.
The KGB and Wedding Wishes
photo : Ragnar Jensen
And because this is an article about romance and happy endings, I’m sure you’ll want to join me in wishing the very best of health and happiness to that notoriously unknown former KGB spy, Chris T the cherubic ‘copper’ from the Constabulary in New Ollerton, Nottinghamshire and her fiancé Alan, as they ‘tie the knot’ tomorrow.
Chris the KGB spy? You’ll have to ask her, I’m not at liberty to say…. I signed the Official Secrets Act!
Congratulations to Mr and Mrs Sands – may you have a super ‘not-so-secret’ wedding day.