Castle Kunšperk

Copy of Grb Štajerske iz leta 1900; Hugo Gerard Ströhl, Oesterreichisch-Ungarische Wappenrolle, Dunaj 1900.

Castle Kunšperk 

Castle Kunšperk had been build well (perhaps already in the 10th century) before its first mention in 1167 and 1174. The Gurk chronicle reports that the Christian bishop Henrik had destroyed the Kunšperk Castle (Chuongisperch destruxit), which was owned at the time by Oton Ehrnegg. Henrik and Oton restored their relationship and the castle was rebuilt. The new castle was built between 1167 and 1174 and managed until the end of the 14th century by noble Königsbergs. They were ministers of the Dioecesis Gurcensis bishops, who acquired the property from the Hemma von Gurk through the Gurk monastery.

Oton, who was often accompanied by Styrian border counts, died shortly after 1185. The bishop of Gurk then confided his defense to supposed nephew of Oton, Oton I., brother of Friderik from Poetovio. Oton I. was also one of the most prominent knights at the famous tournament in Frisach in 1224 when he fought with Ulrich from Liechtenstein (/…/ gift von Kungesperc ein helt /…/). In the poem Vrowen dienest – Aventiure von dem turnay ze Frisach he is mentioned three times.

After the year 1250, Oton II. as the head of the family had a son of the same name, Oton III. After his death around the year 1270, the sons Oton IV and Friderik ruled together in the first years. After Friderik’s death around 1323 his son Hans took over, who died just before the year 1388, after his death property was taken over by his son Andrei, who died in 1395. With him, the last of the Königsbergs died and the noble line ended.

At the beginning of the 13th century, the Königsbergs and Poetovians came to a very large, allodial estate in the Upper Savinja Valley, which they evenly distributed. Obviously, they were joint heirs to some Carinthian nobleman. Poetovians received Kacenstein and the territory of Žamberk, and Königsbergs the territory of the later Hekenberg, Turen and Velenje.

Königsberg knights ruled in the castle until 1395, when Knight Andrei handed it to Herman I. of Cilli. Immediately after the formal ceremony, Andrei’s sister Agnes appealed, (for the second time married to Henrik from Ehrenfels), who as an heir to the castle demanded it for herself. Kunšperk was a hereditary fief, which could also be deducted by women. That’s why, in 1397, the Bishop awarded Kunšperk to her. But then she immediately sold castle back to counts of Cilli. None of the Andrei’s possible heirs were mentioned after him in 1395.

Castle was owned by the counts of Cilli untill 1456, and was then administered by the Karst bishops. In 1458 it was given to Gašper Esenkover, and in 1465 was bought by the Karst bishop, who had on the castle various caretakers, the longest was family of Gall – until 1575. In 1515 the castle was conquered and damaged by farmers. In 1586, Sigmund Tattenbach bought the castle. Since 1608, the Tattenbach had also owned the castle of Bizeljsko. The following owners are mentioned: the Countess Walburga was born Tattenbach 1749, M. J. Count Wildenstein 1764, Countess M. Dietrichstein 1803, F. Hirschhofer 1820 and Prince Windischgrätz 1858, who brought the Bizeljsko farmstead together with the Kunšperk. The Windischgrätz family owned the castle until the end of the Second World War. The castle began to disintegrate in the 17th century.

In the vicinity of the castle there was a tower, which was mentioned in 1368 as a der Klaine Turn, der gelegen ist vnder der vest ze Chungsperg – a small tower that lies under the Kunšperk castle. Its location is unknown.


Author of litography: Georg Matthäus Vischer, Konigsperg in: Topographia Ducatus Stiriae, Graz 1681. Castle Cesargrad stands on the opposite hill of the border river Sotla. Under the Kunšperk castle in the market stands church of St. Jakob.  On the top middle hill stands a church of St. Margareth (today in ruins) and under it a small tower.



In 1573, one of the largest peasant rebellions took place in these parts, the Croatian-Slovenian peasant uprising, led by Matija Gubec, Ivan Pasanec, Ivan Mogaič and Ilija Gregorič. On the plains of Kunšpersko polje came to the battle between the rebels and the Styrian nobility with infantry under the command of the Celje district chief Schrattenbach, who also recived aid of soldiers from the Kunšperk castle. Although not without hard fight about 50 farmers were killed, about 40 were captured, but some 400 of them managed to retreat to the Croatian side of Sotla where they were later defeated by one of the departments of the Alapi army at Klanjac. Leader Ilija Gregorič managed to escape, but was subsequently captured on the Turkish border near settlement Ivanič and sent to prison in Vienna.



The legend says that Kunšperks knight Kuno with his soldiers attacked castle Cesargrad on the nearby hill on the other side of Sotla and killed all of the knights Templars (he would surprise them at the dinner table). The castle Cesargrad was burnt and looted,  while knight Kuno struck his head on the stone arch of castle gate while reatreating, killing him instantly. When his death was seen by his men they returned to castle Kunšperk and looted it as well.

Both castles Kunšperk and Cesargrad were supposed to be connected with a hanging bridge, On the other hand, it was said that knight Kuno wanted to build it, but he died before the start of the project.

The castles Kunšperk and Cesargrad stand opposite, only the river Sotla is separateing them. They were supposed to be built by giants.

Under the Kunšperk Castle there are large cellars with vaults on which trees have grown. In the basements there are large barrels, full of wealth. But nobody can touch it, because they are guarded by big snakes.







Ivan Stopar, Gradovi na Slovenskem, Cankarjeva založba, 1987, ISBN 86-361-0280-4
Ivan Stopar, Grajske stavbe v vzhodni Sloveniji – Med Kozjanskim in porečjem Save, Viharnik, Ljubljana, 1993, ISBN 961-6057-00-6
Ivan Stopar, Razvoj srednjeveške grajske arhitekture na slovenskem štajerskem, Slovenska matica Ljubljana, 1977 (COBISS)
Ivan Jakič, Vsi slovenski gradovi, DZS, Ljubljana, 1997
Dušan Kos, Vitez in grad, Založba ZRC, Ljubljana, 2005


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