Hartberg in Austria, sights and photo.

The Austrian city of Hartberg

There are many reasons to come to the small town of Hartberg, located in the border region between Styria and Burgenland in Austria.

The wine undoubtedly attracts most of the tourists here, and the spas in “Termenland” do not damage the image of the area. The general remoteness and access to one of Austria’s most impressive castles certainly helped promote Hartberg as a holiday destination. Compared to the rest of the country’s tourist centers, however, it was a secret place that only a select few knew about.

There’s plenty to do in Hartberg: Visitors shouldn’t miss out on tasting wine, pumpkinseed oil, and local produce. Hartberg’s parish church has one of the most famous crypts in Austria. These ancient vaults were used for both worship and burial. This was common in Lower Austria, Carinthia and Styria, but today only a few remain.

The church in Hartberg was built in the Romanesque style, which is unusual for Austria. Inside, you will be advised to ignore the “innovations” of the 19th and focus on the original frescoes of the 13th century. The stonework is well preserved, due to the mild climate of southern Styria. Do not forget to look into the church itself: there are beautiful altars.

Hartberg sights

The town has several attractions: the must-see main square (Hauptplatz), the town museum and the Renaissance castle Schloss Hartberg. The latter is now actively hosting temporary art exhibitions.

Explore the Stadtpark (city park) and see the ancient city walls (now in a rather bad shape). Or just stroll around the city and enjoy its unparalleled beauty. It’s also a good place to get busy tasting the local delicacies. Drink wine, eat and have fun.

There are several attractions nearby. With more than just Hartberg to visit, Kapfenberg, Wiener Neustadt, and Graz are within reach. Located a little further away are Eisenstadt, Seewinkel and Mariacell. Several castles of the popular tourist “Castle Road” can be visited from Hartberg by bicycle. However, most visitors come here for the rural aspects of the city. Take a walk among the vineyards, pick up a good book and chat with the locals, or check out one of the thermal spas in Styria and Burgenland.

How to get there

Hartberg is just off the A2 autobahn, near the Burgenland-Styria border. Of course, it is much more fun to drive on country roads and see all the small towns, forests and mountains.

If you want to use public transportation, you can choose train or bus. There are rail connections from Graz and Vienna, and the train station is only a 15-20 minute walk from the city center. Check the schedule, but it’s probably faster to use the bus, which also departs from Graz and Vienna. The main bus stop is even closer to the city center, just a 5 minute walk away.

Hartberg is a fairly small town, so you can quickly get around all the main attractions on foot. By the way, there’s also actress Christy Hartberg, but that’s a whole other story.

If you want to go a little farther into town, you can take a local cab. Since there are no parking lots for them here, you will have to order by phone. The largest companies are Taxi Schlemmer (+43 3332 7173) and Taxi 4 You (+43 664 9358000).

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What else to see

A good starting point is Hauptplatz, the main square and city center with the local church (open every day), the Karner Tower (built in the 12th century and the former site of human bones) and the beautifully restored Rathaus (town hall). The square has many restaurants and bars with outdoor seating areas, so it’s always full of locals in the summer.

Although Hartberg is not very big, you can find two parks. One you already know about, and the other is Bergpark, where just the Schloss Hartberg Castle is located. In recent years, it has become a tradition for locals to hold weddings here.

If you’re a nature lover, you won’t be disappointed with Gmoos, the last great bog in eastern Styria. It is a protected nature reserve and home to a lot of wild vegetation. Around the bog there is a hiking trail with many beautiful places to sit down and enjoy nature.

Not far from the city center (3 km) near Löffelbach you will find the ruins of Villa Rustica, built by the Romans around the 2nd century AD.

Things to do

HERZ, a leisure facility with outdoor and indoor swimming pool, sauna and spa, is just a 15-minute walk south of the city center.

Nearby there are 6 beach volleyball courts owned by the local volleyball club. Everyone is welcome to play here. There are also tennis courts indoors and outdoors. In winter, there is a large ice rink next to the HERZ, and one smaller one for children on the main Hauptlatz square.

If you are interested in vintage cars, be sure to visit the museum with the largest car collection in Austria. Please check its opening times before your trip.

The city offers a variety of hiking trails.

There are many small to medium sized wineries that sell quality wine and food.

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Hartberg hosts many seasonal events and festivals that you are sure to enjoy:

  • The Christmas Market is held in November/December.
  • The Motor Mythos Classic is a vintage race that starts each year in June. Outdoor concerts and festivals are organized in the Stadpark or on the main square. The latter is converted into a beach volleyball court in the summer.
  • Winserfest – A wine festival in the old town of Hartberg where you can sample wine and food from local winemakers.

What to buy as a souvenir

The city center is a good place for shopping. Don’t expect too much, as Hartberg is not a capital city. Take a stroll down Wienerstrasse, where you’ll find various stores and cafes, as well as along Herrnegasse.

Stop by the shopping center. It is located in the direction of the A2 freeway.

Where to eat and what to drink

There are many restaurants and cafes around Hauptplatz that use high quality products.

  • Visit the Gasthof-Restaurant Zum Brauhaus . It serves traditional Austrian cuisine for lunch and dinner.
  • Casa Mulino – Italian restaurant with a romantic interior and an open-air summer terrace. Open only at lunchtime, but not to be missed.
  • Abendrestaurant im Schloß (+43 3332 61850) – Traditional Austrian cuisine of high quality. Located inside the castle in Schloßpark. One of the best places.
  • Restaurant Vinothek Pußwald (+43 3332 62584) is one of the best restaurants in Hartberg in terms of food quality.
  • Café Sonne serves breakfast and a small lunch.

There are many more restaurants in town. Just explore the streets and alleys of Hartberg and you will not be disappointed.

You will always find great wine and beer in Styria.

The Alter Gerichtshof is the best hotel in town. Its features are the design of the rooms and the view from the balcony (plus the sound of birds singing). Very relaxing.

City Hartberg in Styria (Austria)

About 40 km from the city of Graz in the region of Styria is the small town of Hartberg, which has a castle, a very nice pedestrian center, and even remnants of Roman walls. We visited this town as part of our tour “The Way of the Castles of Styria”. If you are spending your vacation in Graz, I recommend you go to Hartberg as a day trip.

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The town of Hartberg is not far from Graz in Styria, and it’s hard to call it a town because it has only 6,500 inhabitants. Hartberg (translated as “Hard Mountain”), is located on a high hill, which was strategically important in the distant days when it was founded.

In the streets of Hartberg

On the streets of Hartberg

On the streets of Hartberg

The area around Hartberg has been settled since ancient times. At the time of the Holy Roman Empire, it was also a settlement (2nd century B.C.), as shown by excavations and the remains of Roman villas discovered here. In ancient times the town was surrounded by a massive defensive wall nearly 1.5 km long, which even today can still be seen during walks through the town. The first mention of Hartberg in chronicles dates back to 1286. In the 15th century, the city was conquered by the Hungarians. A little later it burned almost to the ground, leaving only a few buildings.

Hartberg is now an attraction for tourists, of which there are not many, but it is mainly those who came to Graz. You can also find those who came here on a tour.

We started our tour of the city from the top, driving to the top of the hill by car. Entering through a massive gate, we saw a cozy courtyard and a strange structure, part of which was under glass.

Hartberg. Ancient walls and gates

Hartberg. Ancient walls and gates

Hartberg. Ancient walls and gates

As our guide told us, this was Hartberg Castle (12th century), the remains of which have been masterfully preserved through conservation.

It must be said that the castles of Styria are somewhat different from the traditional notion of “castle”. Castles in Styria are very austere from outside, but luxurious inside.

Hartberg Castle was rebuilt many times since its foundation, and acquired its present appearance in the 16th and 17th centuries. Today the castle is used as the headquarters of Ringana cosmetics company. The castle also has a restaurant (in the building of the former stables) and on the second floor is a knight’s hall, which is available for public events. Inside, of course, no one let us in. But from the outside we took a good look at it.

Hartberg Castle

Hartberg Castle

Castle courtyard. Arcades.

Hartberg Castle

Hartberg Castle

Ancient fragments carefully preserved.

Hartberg Castle

Hartberg Castle

Under the glass of the buildings you can see ancient coats of arms and inscriptions.

Chateau Hartberg. Coats of arms under glass

Chateau Hartberg. Coats of arms under glass

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Chateau Hartberg. Coats of arms under glass

Not far from the castle, at Herrengasse 6, is the Hartberg Museum, but we didn’t go there, and went for a walking tour of the city.

Beside Castle Hartberg

Near Hartberg Castle

Near the Hartberg Castle

We walked around the city, endlessly photographing the remains of the walls, the colored houses, and now and then, discovering interesting fragments of decoration. The most surprising thing is that the streets of the city were empty, as if all the inhabitants were extinct. The same was true for tourists – we did not meet a single tourist group, there were no individuals either.

Chateau Hartberg. Street view

Hartberg. Street view

Hartberg. View of the street

Hartberg. On the streets

Hartberg. On the streets

Hartberg. In the streets of the city.

Then, through the streets of the city we went to Rektrum Tower (belongs to 13th century).

Hartberg. On the way to Rectrum.

Hartberg. On the way to Rektrum.

Hartberg. On the way to Rektrum.

In autumn, the tower looked particularly picturesque, wrapped in vine leaves. The Rectrum is the tower of the medieval wall, which also served as a prison. It should be noted that there are no more than 5 such towers left in Styria. The guide told us the shocking fact that this room is rented out to hold discos periodically.

Hartberg. Rectrum Tower

Hartberg. Rectrum Tower

Hartberg. Rectrum Tower

After seeing the city walls and the Rectrum, we walked to Hartberg’s main square (Hauptplatz). The town is small, so all the sights can be reached on foot. The square is relatively small, there are a variety of cafes, restaurants, historical buildings.

In the center of the square is a column of Miriam.

Hartberg, Styria. Main square

Hartberg, Styria. central square

Hartberg, Styria. Main square

Of course on Hartberg’s main square you can see the town hall (Rathaus). The town hall was built in 1898 and was renovated in 1998.

Hartberg. Town Hall

Hartberg. Town Hall

The guide told us that on each house there was a picture with the profession of the owner of the house. And indeed, you could find both a slipper and a loaf of bread on the houses.

One of the memorable buildings on the square was the Pharmacy, which looked more like a castle.

Hartberg. Pharmacy on the main square

Hartberg. Pharmacy on the main square

Hartberg. Pharmacy on the main square

Not far from the main square is the most important and unique landmark of the town of Hartberg – the Karner. It looks like a small tower, but there are 12th century frescoes inside.

Hartberg. Karner

Hartberg. Karner

In the basement there is a bone storage room – it was a custom in those days to store bones. Those who have been to Bohemia can also think of the ossuary at Kutna Hora, but Hartberg is more humane and does not expose any bones.

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The guide opened this small building for us and we got inside.

Hartberg. Karner

Hartberg. Karner

We spent quite a bit of time there as we took a long look at the frescoes. On the walls you can see a picture of the 7 deadly sins, seraphim, angels, the image of the Lord, various subjects from the Old Testament. The frescoes are perfectly preserved due to the mild climate of Styria. The inscription above the Carnera’s portal states that the year of its foundation was 1167. From 1889 to 1894, the inside of the chapel was restored, a porch was added, and the 12th century frescoes were uncovered, but they were slightly updated by the artist of the time. It is certainly possible to go to Hartberg even for a tour of this beauty.

Karner. 12th century frescoes.

Karner. 12th century frescoes

Karner. 12th century frescoes

Karner. 12th century murals.

Karner. 12th century frescoes

Karner. 12th century mural

Painted chapel dome.

Hartberg. Chapel Dome

Hartberg. Dome of the Chapel

Hartberg. Dome of the Chapel

The first row of frescoes.

Hartberg. Frescoes

Hartberg. Frescoes

There is a small door that leads to the ossuary. But we didn’t go there, thank God.

Hartberg. Door to the ossuary

Hartberg. Door to the ossuary

Hartberg. Door to the ossuary

After seeing Carter, we went to St. Martin’s Church (Stadtpfarrkirche St. Martin), located on the main square.

Hartberg. Church of St. Martin (Stadtpfarrkirche St. Martin)

Hartberg. Church of St. Martin (Stadtpfarrkirche St. Martin)

Hartberg. Church of St. Martin (Stadtpfarrkirche St. Martin)

The church is noteworthy in that it has the ruins of a Roman building from around 200 AD at its base. The first mention of the church in the late Gothic style can be found in the chronicles of 1157. It was later rebuilt in the Baroque style in 1745-1760. Inside the church you can see quite nice Baroque altars and sculpture.

Hartberg. Church of St. Martin (Stadtpfarrkirche St. Martin)

Hartberg. Church of St. Martin (Stadtpfarrkirche St. Martin)

Hartberg. Church of St. Martin (Stadtpfarrkirche St. Martin)

Hartberg. Church of St. Martin (Stadtpfarrkirche St. Martin)

Hartberg. Church of St. Martin (Stadtpfarrkirche St. Martin)

Hartberg. Church of St. Martin (Stadtpfarrkirche St. Martin)

View of the colourful houses of Hartberg.

Hartberg. Colorful houses.

Hartberg. Colorful houses

Hartberg. Colorful cottages

Overall, I really liked Hartberg, the atmosphere, the lack of tourists and people. If we had more time, I would have loved to visit some of the restaurants in the main square and the museum.

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