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Published: April 23rd 2008
Well, it's spring now and time for me to go out and explore parts of Austria I've never seen before. One of these places is Riegersburg...one of the coolest castles (Burg) I've seen so far, which lies on the Styrian border of Burgenland, which used to be the border to the former Ottoman Empire. German makes the difference between castle (Schloss) and castle used for defense (Burg); for example, could you imagine Schloss Neuschwanstein being used for defense? Anyway, RiegersBURG is cool because of its long history beginning with its construction in the 1200s. Since then it has been expanded and cultivated by its various nobles and subsequent owners (now it's owned by some rich dude from Liechtenstein).
Apparently there was a lot of witch hunting going on while the Burg was still in use (it's been un-lived in now for 300 years), and 800 people, 2/3 of whom were women of course, were accused of witchcraft. Pretty much nobody survived, as it was impossible to prove yourself innocent in those days. One woman, the "Rosenhexe" or "rose witch" was condemned, decapitated and then burned at the stake (without a head) because she could grow roses in the winter.
Surrounding landscapes of Eastern Styria
Imagine living at the Burg and owning all of this...
And during a bout of bad weather sometime in the 1600s, a total of 100 people were accused of starting the bad weather, and because they couldn't prove that they didn't cast spells that created the storms, they were also burned at the stake.
When you look at the castle from below the cliff, you can't imagine that such things happened there. You think of lords and maidens, knights and kings. Another interesting and curious tidbit was at the dining hall, where it was made known that in this room, nobles and their friends ate 14-course meals and drank themselves silly for weeks. You can't help but think that while farmers and common folk were working their tails off and hungering, and while "witches" were being condemned and burned, the fat and rich pigs of the upper class ate and drank themselves to oblivion.
This goes without saying, but I think you can make some interesting parallels about people with power and their not-so-well-off countrymen...
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