Kufstein Fortress: Time travel through the walls
When historical stories are brought back to life
Feel like a medieval damsel, explore the cells in the tower prison and let yourself be inspired by the wonderful sounds of the world’s largest open-air organ – all this and much more is on offer at Kufstein Fortress. An adventurous journey into the past.
Where history has been made
Kufstein Fortress sits majestically on a steep rocky mountain in the heart of Kufsteinerland. The old walls of the imposing gem seem to tell endless stories. The fortress was an object of fierce contest between Bavaria and Tyrol, until King Maximilian I managed to take possession of Kufstein for the House of Hapsburg in 1504. After many military conflicts, Tyrol once again came under Austrian control in 1814 and the fortress has been owned by the city of Kufstein since 1924. It is thus a place where battles have raged, enemies have been imprisoned and jousting tournaments have been organised. Off to the fortress!
Experience Kufstein Fortress
As soon as you enter the fortress you feel like you’ve been taken back to a time before the First World War. The white walls with ornate handrails and giant archways give it a special charm. There are a total of 24 stations to discover. The entire fortress area is well signposted. In addition to the guided tours, you can also explore easily on your own.
Behind bars with a panoramic view
Next stop: Prison. The stairs lead up instead of down. In such a historical fortress you usually expect the prison to be in the cellar. But everything is different in Kufstein. During the Austrian-Hungarian Empire the fortress was used as a state prison. However it wasn’t a standard prison. Some of the prisoners were even diplomats. After many steps you reach the highest part of the Kaiser Tower. The captives were imprisoned all the way up there. The sparse furnishing of the cells has been reconstructed and one thing immediately catches your eye: the panoramic view of the Inn Valley from the small windows.
The walls of the tower have a diameter of 30 meters and are seven meters thick. Nobody could escape. There are pictures hanging in the cells of the sometimes prominent prisoners, such as the Hungarian author Ferenc Kazinczy. Absorb the “prison feeling” in the cells a little longer before continuing to the next station.
Organ concert at noon
Just before noon, unique sounds drift through the historic city on the Inn River: the Heroes' organ with its 4,948 pipes comes to life. As soon as the concert starts many visitors to Kufsteinerland lift their heads in wonder. The pipes are located under the roof of the Bürgerturm. The incredibly high wind pressure means that the sound can be heard unusually far away to the north-east. If there is a wind the concert can be heard up to ten kilometres away, in neighbouring Bavaria and on the peaks of the Wilder Kaiser. It is a memorial to the First World War. And anyone who wants to see the organ up close can find an experience for eyes and ears at the entrance to the Fortress Neuhof (Neuhof Fortress).
From museum to well
As well as the state prison in the Kaiser Tower and the Heroes' organ, the fortress museum and museum of local history is also worth a visit. Learn more about the history of the region, the culture and the fortress. The museum rooms look mysterious. This is both because of the indirect lighting and also because of the combination of stone and wood. The illuminated display boards immediately attract attention.
Another feature is the well in the outside area. It is one of the most important elements that make a fortress self-sufficient. Looking down into the endless depths evokes a strange feeling. The fortress well is at least 70 meters deep.
Highlight of the underground passages
A wide range of workshops, tours and concerts round off the fortress experience. An app with audio guide makes it possible for visitors to enjoy a tour full of interesting information. The entire fortress has Wi-Fi. Children can enjoy their own knight’s tournament and scavenger hunt.
There are plenty of reasons to visit the fortress. Plan at least two hours for a visit. There’s so much to see that you simply have to experience it for yourself!