It's the early 13th century and Genghis Khan is laying waste to China whilst Europe gears up for yet more pointless, bloody crusading.

 

Thankfully in Hapsburg ruled Tirol the situation is relatively calm. The locals are prospering and the gentry are busy building themselves grand fortified residences in dramatic, eye catching locations. Karneid Castle near Bozen is an early example.

The core of the building stems from around 1200 CE and was most probably built on the ruins of an earlier watchtower. Nobody knows for sure who the original builders were but over the 150 years that follow several prominent local families own the fief and extend the building by adding a chapel, generous living quarters & extensive fortifications.

 

In 1386 a local landowner named Heinrich von Liechtenstein takes possession. A few years later the local nobility rebel against their Hapsburg rulers. The Liechtensteins side with the rebels and Karneid is besieged. Heinrich and his sons are taken prisoner but after some smooth talking and the payment of a large ransom they are released and allowed to return to Karneid

 

Karneid continues to prosper until the mid 16th century but then things start to go downhill. Heinrich's descendant the notoriously cruel and corrupt Bartl v. Liechtenstein is fined and imprisoned by the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II for numerous offences against the state, effectively bankrupting the family. His equally depraved son Wilhelm is murdered outside the castle walls by his cousin Erasmus and in 1616 Wilhelm's son Hans Paul dies, becoming the last Liechtenstein to be buried in Karneid. The castle is now effectively abandoned by the Leichtensteins and left in the hands of caretakers. The incomes from the estate are enough for emergency repairs but the castle falls into disrepair and at some point in the late 17th century the apse of the chapel collapses, destroying many of its rare 14th century frescoes. The chapel is patched up but Karneid's decline continues. In 1761 Count Franz Anton, the last male Liechtenstein dies and his heirs sell Karneid to the city of Bozen. Over the next hundred years the estate changes hands numerous times and from the early 19th century it is effectively deserted and falls into serious disrepair

 

In 1884 Baron Ferdinand von Miller, a wealthy Munich artisan & entrepreneur bought and restored Karneid. Today it is owned by his descendants and is one of the last intact, privately owned medieval fortresses in South Tirol. The castle plays an important role in the life of the local community and is available in the summer months for rent as a holiday retreat.