Schloss Scharnstein Castle in the Salzkammergut

Schloss Scharnstein Castle makes a great day-trip if you travel with children

Schloss Scharnstein is a castle approximately 15 kilometres east of Gmunden in the Salzkammergut. Following a fire, the current castle was built in the years after 1538. In 1584, a high official from the Imperial Court named Hermhardt von Jörger purchased the property.

Under his and his son′s guidance, the interiors were refurbished and Scharnstein gained a few new buildings as well as a Renaissance touch. Only a few years later, the von Jörger landlords turned to the wrong side during the 30-Years′-War: As protestants they were disowned by the emperor, Karl von Jörger died in a dungeon in Passau.

The emperor sold Schloss Scharnstein to the monastery of Kremsmünster. In the following years, it was a centre of Kremsmünster′s representative efforts. Gradually, however, it lost significance and by 1800, parts of the interiors of Scharnstein were dismantled and transferred to Laxenburg to be used for the terribly ugly Franzensburg castle. After WWII, the castle served as a refugee camp. By 1967, the castle was in rather bad shape and sold by the monastery to Harald Seyrl, who refurbished the building.

Scharnstein: Sensitive Restauration for Museums

Since then, it is used for various enterprises, including three museums. The "Museum der Österreichischen Zeitgeschichte" (Museum of Modern History of Austria), which is rather refreshing: Whilst the rest of the Salzkammergut immerses itself in Imperial nostalgia, this exhibition starts with the collapse of the Empire. Unsurprisingly, the museum is a popular destination for day-trips among domestic tourists in the Salzkammergut. For full appreciation of the exhibition, I recommend at least a basic command of German and interest in modern history.

The other two museums can be visited with a combinatorial ticket: The "Kriminalmuseum" (Museum of Crime) displays all sorts of tools that were used for creative means of torture during the Middle Ages. For more recent violence, the "Gendarmeriemuseum" will show you documents on recent murders and other crimes in Austria.

A Classic Salzkammergut Day-Trip

"Gendarmerie" was used for the rural branch of Austria′s police force since the foundation in 1849. Only in 2005, "Gendarmerie" and "Polizei" were merged and suddenly my father turned from a "Gendarm" into a "Polizist". Records of these events can be found in Schloss Scharnstein alongside with a nice array of historic uniforms.

For people travelling with children, the museums are probably inappropriate. Try the "Reptilienzoo" in that case, a reptile collection with various snakes and alike. There is a restaurant in the castle. Nearby attractions include Grünau in the Almtal valley, Gmunden, Altmünster, Traunkirchen and Ebensee by Lake Traunsee. If you are willing to drive a wee bit further, Bad Ischl, Steyr and Wels are within reach.

Back to: "Upper Austria Sightseeing Guide"
or "Salzkammergut Sightseeing Guide"

Sightseeing by Austrian Province

Bregenz and Vorarlberg - Innsbruck and Tyrol - Salzburg - Salzkammergut - Graz and Styria - Klagenfurt and Carinthia - Wachau and Lower Austria - Vienna - Burgenland

Further Reading

Official Website of Scharnstein (community)

Kriminalmuseum Scharnstein

Official website of the Upper Austrian Tourism Council