A Visit to Reutte and the Ehrenberg Castle Ensemble (Austria)
About 20km from touristy Füssen (Germany) – and across the border in the Austrian Alps – is the pretty little town of Reutte. Located in a large green valley surrounded by snow capped mountains it is just fantastically beautiful.
I had never heard of Reutte before coming across it in my Rick Steve’s guidebook. Besides being a quiet small town in a beautiful setting, the main interest point are the ruins of several castles known collectively as the Ehrenberg Castle Ensemble.
It is a bit of a walk from town, through beautiful fields with magnificent views, to get to the path that goes up to the castles (if pressed for time, better to take a taxi to the Klause Valley Fort). Once at the Klause Valley Fort we started climbing the 30 minute pass to the most important castle, the Ehrenberg ruins. It’s a nice path, not too steep, that has been very well organized by the Austrian tourist authorities – there are interesting and informative signs in both German and English. This was true for all signage around the Ehrenberg Castle Ensemble, it was all very well organized.
We arrived at the Ehrenberg ruins. Incredible. Not just the ruins themselves but also the majestic location. There we no other tourists, we were there all by ourselves. The castle was built in the 13th century and was the seat of power in the area. Many battles were waged here, most against the Bavarians. In 1632 the castle fought off 16,000 Swedish soldiers in defense of Catholicism. The location is spectacular and you wonder how the residents of the castle braved the elements. We wandered the fort for almost an hour, each view seemingly more impressive than the last.
Further up, another half hour’s hike, is the Schlosskopf, while across the valley is the Claudia Fort. These 3 fortresses were supposedly built to protect the trade route which salt traders used to send their wares to southern Germany. The main function, however, was to extract tolls for the rulers of Tyrol.
Today, the four fortifications are known as the “Burgenwelt (Castle World) Ehrenberg”.
One of my biggest regrets is that we had planned only half a day in Reutte. I suggest at least one full day, starting very early in the morning, to discover all the ruins and fully appreciate this area. I’m determined that we will make it back here someday.
Update: there is now a pedestrian suspension bridge linking the Ehrenberg Castle ruins to the Claudia Fort. All about that here.
Note that the Ehrenberg ruins are about 20 minutes by car from Füssen and Neushwanstein castle (one of Europe’s most popular castles). The contrast is startling and you’ll be happy you came here.
Hotel Der Tannenhof is recommended. Great location and beautiful room for 70 Euros.
We met some interesting and very friendly characters in Reutte who were very willing to talk. At Markt Asshaeur (a bio food market) we met Ms. Asshaeur who was incredibly friendly and helpful. She had also travelled to Canada. She had the most amazing tomatoes and avocados as well as cheese, bread, and salami. We brought these back to the hotel and had a picnic supper.
Getting here: Surprisingly easy. Take the 74 bus from Fussen (it takes about 25 minutes). It is a milkrun through fantastic mountain scenery; the bus circling the countryside, picking up kids at the kindergarden in one town and dropping them off at the next. We were the only tourists. The only other people on the bus were a bunch of elderly ladies chatting and laughing with the bus driver. One got the sense that it was all a daily routine.
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