The history of Heinfels Castle

On Heinfels, walls and towers connect in a unique way with the inhabitants of times long past. In 1210 the highest tower was built on the rock and marked a new reign. After the residential wing and curtain wall, the castle chapel was built in 1280. The castle was now owned by the once powerful Counts of Gorizia.


The young Count brothers Johann and Leonhard continued to expand Heinfels and in 1460 chose the fortress as their residence. After the Gorizia Counts died out, the future Emperor Maximilian I of Habsburg also inherited the mighty castle and stayed here several times. In 1525 Heinfels was stormed and occupied by its own subjects in the course of the Peasant Wars. Heinfels was home to the princely armoury, the tax registers, sacred treasures and dungeons. Famous prisoners of Heinfels were the Christian reformer Jakob Hutter and the couple accused of sorcery, Thurn Urban and Ursula. Unique are the storm piles on the curtain wall from 1620, which were supposed to prevent the construction of ladders and storming. However, it was not the external enemy that brought Heinfels down, but the futility and vacancy of the venerable walls. In 1917, 1928 and 1932 the core castle collapsed and Heinfels fell to ruin. From 2016 to 2020, Heinfels was restored and made accessible to the public to fill visitors surrounded by stone witnesses with history!


Heinfels Castle, and the eponymous district court, were built on the territory of the Prince-Bishopric of Freising, Innichen. In 1239, Otto Welf, from the House of Welfsberg, starts calling himself ‘de Hunenvelse’ (he who comes from Heinfels). The castle was first named in 1288 and the original building hails back to the last quarter of the 13th Century, and is composed by the keep, jutting out from the highest point of the rock on which the castle is perched, the palas built to the west of the structure and the castle walls stretching out to the west. Back in the 13th century, Heinfels was transferred to the House of Görz and, in 1271, Count Meinhard II of Tyrol decided to keep it for himself, going against the agreement concerning the division of the family goods he had stipulated with his brother Albert. It was only in 1275 that Meinhard gave the castle to his brother, Albert II of Görz. Heinfels was the most important hub in County Görz in the Pustertal valley until the Görz line died out. In the past, a square tower used to rise to the east of the castle structure (today it has been incorporated into the western walls). This tower was the former residence of the Count of the castle who acted as trustee of the property. The castle chapel, dedicated to Saint Laurentius, contains remains of frescoes hailing back to the Late Roman and Gothic period, and was consecrated a second time in 1331. Around 1400, an imposing, three-story hall - a new living area- was erected to the west across the ruins of the old castle walls. It still dominates the western side of the castle structure to this very day. Still in the possession of the Görz family, the castle was fortified at the end of the 15th century with an extended wall and round corner towers.

Paper drawing Heinfels Castle
Heinfels Castle, ca. 1800, paper drawing, allegedly by Ignaz Mathias Paprion, 1752 – 1812 (Parish priest and local historian), parochial archives of Sillian.

After the Görz dynasty died out around 1500, Heinfels and the whole county went to Emperor Maximilian I. Between 1654 and 1783, the castle went to the Royal Convent in Hall, then became state property. In 1833, the castle was transferred to those 18 municipalities that resided in the former county of Heinfels. It was used to shelter the poor and homeless. Between 1880 and 1910, the castle was used as a military barracks. The market town of Sillian became the sole owner of the castle in 1936, making it into a private property.

Postcard Heinfels Castle
A postcard from around 1902 shows the palas standing in all its glory. The structure collapsed in 1932.

During the 18th century the castle slowly started falling in disrepair. The ceiling of the palas collapsed in 1917; the tower ceiling followed next in 1928; the western wall of the palas crumbled to bits in 1932. From this moment on, regular redevelopment work is carried out and, since the 90s, has included securing the building stock as well as a partial restoration of individual parts of the structure to their original glory.

Heinfels castle to the west
The castle to the west, with its western wing, keep (‘Hunnenturm’) and wall remains from the collapsed palas.

In 2007, the Loacker company, in agreement with the communities of Heinfels and Sillian, acquired Heinfels Castle with the intention of revitalising the site. The main objective was to make the castle accessible to the public again and to make it a centre of public life in Alta Pusteria, especially in terms of culture and tourism. The aim is a mixed public and private, gastronomic use. In order to achieve this, the first step was to carry out a sustainable, fundamental renovation of the castle as a matter of great urgency in order to prevent further decay of the castle complex and to preserve it for future generations as a castle complex that is visible from afar and filled with life.

From 2016 to 2020 the extensive restoration of Heinfels Castle and the establishment of a museum took place. All of this was only possible thanks to a joint and coordinated effort on the part of the Museum Association Burg Heinfels, the State of Tyrol, the Federal Office for the Protection of Monuments, the communities of Alta Pusteria, the Loacker company, but also the local population and economy.


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The executive board of the association Museumsverein Burg Heinfels

The founding members are the municipalities of the Osttiroler Oberlandes Heinfels, Sillian, Außervillgraten, Innervillgraten, Kartitsch, Untertilliach, Obertilliach, Abfaltersbach, Strassen as well as the Loacker family: The aim is to create a possibly far-reaching, cross-border membership base with a strong focus on culture, the economy, tourism, politics, and open partnerships. Natural and legal persons as well as partnerships can become members of the association.

Ours is a non-profit association and our aims are to carry out ideal projects without a financial return. According to the statues, the aim of the association is to:

  • Revitalise and maintain the cultural heritage that is Heinfels Castle
  • Incentivise cultural aims as well as projects and partnerships focusing on culture and the preservation of historical monuments
  • Plan and implement cultural events
  • Carry out scientific research and documentation, as well as developing our public relations endeavours
  • Preserve the historical function of the castle together with our partner region, South Tyrol, and the other member states of the European Union.
  • Build a library and a painting gallery.
The joint goals of the Museumsverein Burg Heinfels (which oversees its open use) and Loacker (which oversees its private-sector use) are to liven up and redevelop this historic castle. Beside the open and private-sector use, Heinfels Castle will also be open for tourist, cultural and private events.

Organisation of the association

How can I support the association?

1) Become a member

Registrations in the Registry Office in Heinfels • Yearly membership fee: € 40

2) Donations

The Museumsverein Burg Heinfels is recognised as a tax-free association. Therefore, 10% of the profits of a company and 10% of sales for private individuals can be declared as tax-deductible.

3) Advertisement subsidy

The association will list its sponsors on its own homepage and the Castle Heinfels website with their name and logo.


Bank coordinates: Raiffeisenbank Sillian

IBAN: AT32 3636 8000 0009 9499 oder
AT37 3636 8000 0010 2319


UID: AT U69589938

ZVR: 749588216



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The following royalty-free material can be downloaded in print-ready resolution for your press releases.
Credits: Peter Leiter/Museumsverein Burg Heinfels

Press material IMAGES
Logo Museumsverein Burg Heinfels JPG, 300 dpi

Photo gallery Heinfels Castle (from 2020), continuously updated!

Copyright: © Peter Leiter/Museumsverein Burg Heinfels
Aerial photography by drone: © Alexander Zeidler/Museumsverein Heinfels Castle
Photos in chronological order
Notes, caption: see information ⓘ
Download in single image preview: Shift + D

>>> Gallery



Make a mark!

Your donation for Heinfels Castle.


Many thanks to the donors:


Hermann Nagel - Oberderdingen (7 x)
Familie Li-Resinger - Innsbruck
Gemeinde Oberderdingen
Einrichtungshaus Aichner - Heinfels
Landtechnik Wiedemayr GmbH - Heinfels
Osttiroler Bote Medienunternehmen GmbH
Kofler Steuerberatung GmbH
Micado Smart Engineering GmbH
Theurl Leimholzbau GmbH (2 x)
Andreas Burger - Oberbozen
Auto Lusser - Heinfels
Holzbau Lusser - Heinfels
Hermann Mitteregger - Sillian
Elektro Aichner GmbH - Sillian
Michael Tempele - Sillian


Leckfeldhütte, Philipp Rainer-Pranter
Philomena und Johann Huber - Heinfels
Michael Masini - Heinfels
Raiffeisen Regionalbank Matrei in Osttirol eGen
Planwerkstatt Andreas Schett
Trauerhilfe Lukas Reisenzein


Hubert, Anton, Peter, Hannes, Robert Stallbaumer - Heinfels/Wien
Sägewerk Anether - Lavant
Mathilde und Reinhold Habernig - Leisach
Ute Antoni - Oberderdingen
Schützenkompanie Sillian
Jakob Schranzhofer - Sillian
Riccardo Ossena - Venezia
Herta Stark - Finkenstein
Ruth und Jürgen Treffinger - Oberderdingen
Daniela Steidl - Heinfels/St. Johann i. T.
Anton Walder - Wattens
Bernhard Huber - Innsbruck
Maria Kraler, "Jaga" - Heinfels


Michaela und Volker Malchus - Kartitsch
Fam. Webhofer - Gratzhof, Sillian
Fam. Trojer - Gschwendtstocker, Heinfels
Fam. Aichner - Heinfels
Fam. Wiedemayr - Heinfels
Fam. Kofler - Ochswiese, Heinfels
Raiffeisenbank Sillian
Anton Thum - Lienz
Tobias Albert - Sillian
Philomena Huber - Heinfels
Thomas und Theresia Mitteregger - Heinfels
Fam. Dietmar Lusser - Heinfels
Fam. Hermann u. Hannelore Rainer - Heinfels

Support the project Heinfels Castle and donate a building block!

For several centuries Heinfels Castle was exposed to decay. The owners, the communities, the state and the federation, with the support of the region and the population, now want to close the castle and give the "Queen of the Puster Valley" a new lease of life.


The names of the donors are visibly engraved in gold, silver or bronze in the museum shop, staircases or entrances to the castle. In addition, donors receive a duplicate and a donation receipt in the form of a donation certificate.

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Premium Partner 2017 - 2022

Loacker Premium Partner02Raiffeisenbank sillian premium partner04Loacker Premium Partner04


Public Partners

Land TirolLandesgedächtnisstiftung TirolBundesdenkmalamt

Gemeinde HeinfelsMarktgemeinde SillianGemeinde AbfaltersbachGemeinde AußervillgratenGemeinde Innervillgraten

Gemeinde KartitschGemeinde ObertilliachGemeinde StrassenGemeinde Untertilliachgemeinde anras


Leader Projekt Burg Heinfels: Entwicklung museales Konzept

Entwicklung eines musealen Basiskonzepts mit realisierbaren Inhalten aus vorhandenen Ideen und neuen kreativen Ansätzen.
Umsetzung in Visualisierungskonzepte und didaktische Vorgaben für die bauliche Umsetzung.  


Für das Interreg V A - Projekt Türme und Burgen
Für das Interreg V A - Projekt Kulturelle Aufwertung der Kirche S. Margeritha in Vigo und der Kapelle S. Laurentius von Burg Heinfels

Interreg V-A Italia-Österreich ITAT 2002
Interreg V-A Italia-Österreich ITAT 4018