Schloss Dürnstein Relais & Chateaux
Wachau Wachau
The earliest historical mention of the place called “Wachova” occurred in 823 AD. “Wachova” originally referred to the town now known as Spitz, and by the 12th Century, “Tal Wachau” (Valley of Wachau) began to mean the region from the town of St. Michael to Watstein, a road bottleneck that lies west of Dürnstein. The region we now know as Wachau, the Danube valley between the settlements of Melk and Krems, first began being used somewhat later on during the Romantic Era.
Dürnstein Dürnstein
The small town of Dürnstein was built along a narrow strip of land between a steep mountain and the Danube, serving as an important port for ships and regional stronghold throughout its history. In 1019, Emperor Henry I gave this strategic location to the Tegernsee Abbey. The nearby municipality of Unterloiben had belonged to the abbey since 1002, while Oberloiben was under Salzburg’s control. After 1050, various towns in Lower Austria were heartily dedicated to growing, supporting, and defending themselves alongside Saxon ministerials from the Kuenring family. Even nowadays, this era lives on through local sayings and history. The Kuenrings remained true to their foundations: the Cistercian Zwettl Abbey (1137) and the Dürnstein town charter originated with them. On September 1, 1347, Dürnstein became designated as a city for the first time in an official Kuenring inheritance document. On April 26, 1476, Emperor Fredrick III gave Dürnstein its municipal coat of arms. The town’s 650-year anniversary was celebrated with great joy in 1997.
The Monastery The Monastery
During the transition from a convent to the estate of the Augustinians in the Baroque period and a splendid rebuilding to say the least, the famous views Dürnstein is so well known for came about.
Dürnstein's Ruins Dürnstein's Ruins
Burgruine Dürnstein was originally built in 1130 by Hadmar I of Kuenring and was destroyed in 1645 during the Thirty Years’ War by Swedish forces; however, the castle was already uninhabitable for some time prior to being demolished.

During 1192-1193, Richard I of England, also known as Richard the Lionheart, was imprisoned here.
Zelking Family Zelking Family
The “New Castle” was built from 1622 to 1630 by Christoph Wilhelm of the art-appreciating Zelking noble family on the site where the Maissau family court and several vintners’ houses previously stood. The architect was likely Cipriano Biasino from the Como region in Italy who resided in Krems and also built the Krems St. Viet parish church.

Through marriage, the owner became Heinrich von Zinzendorf und Pottendorf in 1634.
Zinzendorf Family Zinzendorf Family
The Imperial Counts Zinzendorf und Pottendorf were an ancient Lower Austrian noble family who, like almost all the other Lower Austrian nobility, had converted to Protestantism. During the Counter-Reformation, these noble families moved away from their native regions, and even the Zinzendorfs found a new home in Dresden. A grandson, Nikolaus Ludwig, became a reformer of the Moravian Church which is still active nowadays throughout the world.

In 1663, the Zinzendorfs sold the castle to Conrad Balthasar, Count of Starhemberg.
Starhemberg Family Starhemberg Family
In contrast to previous owners, the castle did not serve as a permanent residence for the Starhembergs. Instead, it was used for visits to the nearby wineries and occasional hunting trips. In September 1683, Emperor Leopold I docked in Dürnstein with a small flotilla and lived in the castle, and it was there where he received the news of victory in the Battle of Vienna against the Ottoman Empire.

In 1937, Ernst Rüdiger von Starhemberg sold the castle to the Thiery family.
Hotel Schloss Dürnstein Hotel Schloss Dürnstein
In 1937, Raimund Thiery purchased the castle from Ernst Rüdiger von Starhemberg. The transformation to a hotel was begun by Raimund’s son Johann and his wife Rosemarie, who both continue as the hotel’s senior managers today. Year after year, construction, expansion, and renovations took place, and even now there are hardly any winters where there isn’t something new being worked on.

Their son Christian Thiery has taken over managing the hotel and runs the business together with his sister Maria Katharina.