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South Texas Living

Tales of castles, coffered ceilings

Tales of castles, coffered ceilings
Leiben Castle, restored by the villagers of Leiben, will be 900 years old in 2013.

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November 28, 2012
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In ancient times, castles protected the local villages. In a historic turnabout, one Austrian castle has been saved by its village.

Located north of Melk near the Danube River Valley and Wachau in southern Austria, in the village of Leiben (pop. 1,289), is the 11th-century Schloss Leiben, or Leiben Castle. Built on an impressive steep rock, it was constructed during medieval times and experienced the Renaissance. The castle has a varied history with the changing of owners.

Not until 1989 was the municipality of Leiben able to purchase this important monument. It was renovated and made available for use by the citizens.

The castle’s coffered ceilings are a great attraction for visitors, containing extraordinary works of art by an unknown artist. Created in the mid-17th century, the paintings form an overall composition, taking viewers through the world of mythology. The castle’s chapel ceilings depict beautiful spiritual, devotional images.

With all its beauty, the castle hosts many events, such as weddings, parties, product presentations, and more. Its slogan has become “Rent your castle.”

In 1986, a special tractor collection was exhibited in Leiben. This was a trigger to make the castle the “soul” of the village. After the castle renovations, it was decided in June 1991 that two basement rooms of the castle could be used as a museum for old farm equipment. In 2002, this became a reality.

The agricultural museum part of the castle displays one-of-a-kind unique test models for farm use, in addition to tractors from 1910 to 1941. Information is available about wood gas tractors, steam engines, and internal combustion engines. Accessories and car parts are on display, as well as models and originals of steam plows, wooden plows, and motor plows, as well as tractors, harrows, rollers, field loops, and cultivators. A video from the museum credits the United States’ postwar Marshall Plan of 1947 for Austria’s economic recovery and advancement in developing and acquiring farm machinery and other technology.

Many farm exhibits offer visitors the opportunity to make them operate -- to see the items hiss, rattle, snort, etc. These models can be fun and interesting for everyone, from little kids to “big kids.”

The museum video shows the various models on display from the early 1900s, such as a crawler tractor, grain mower, straw press, and steam plow. Some items exhibited are more than 80 years old.

Leiben Castle strives to add more items and to change some things to make the museum a popular destination.

Find out more by visiting

Ivarene Voigt Hosek is a resident of Floresville. She produced this article from a video presentation.

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