Schloss Klessheim

Schloss Klessheim is a Baroque palace situated 4 km (2.5 mi) west of Salzburg in the Austrian commune of Wals-Siezenheim. A former summer residence of the Archbishops of Salzburg, it is now used by Salzburg Casino.


Originally, the Kleshof was a small manor house, which was acquired by Prince-Archbishop Johann Ernst von Thun in 1690. The architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach converted it into Lustschloss Favorita from 1700 onwards, but after the archbishop's death in 1709, his successor Franz Anton von Harrach cancelled work in favour of Schloss Mirabell. Archbishop Count Leopold Anton von Firmian, who also built Schloss Leopoldskron, had Klessheim finished, including a ceremonial hall with an extended terrace and ramp leading to the gardens. In the late 18th century, an English landscape park was added under the rule of Archbishop Count Hieronymus von Colloredo.

After Salzburg's secularisation in 1803, Klessheim Palace fell to the Austrian House of Habsburg-Lorraine. In 1866 it became the permanent residence of Archduke Ludwig Viktor of Austria (1842–1919), a younger brother of Emperor Franz Joseph I. The archduke had the palace extended according to plans designed by Heinrich von Ferstel and died here in 1919. His Habsburg heirs sold the palace to the Austrian state of Salzburg.

After the Austrian Anschluss in 1938, Adolf Hitler, when staying at his nearby Berghof residence, used Schloss Klessheim for conferences and to host official guests like Benito Mussolini, Miklós Horthy, Ion Antonescu, Jozef Tiso and Ante Pavelić. While Horthy stayed at Klessheim, Hitler on 19 March 1944 secretly gave orders for Operation Margarethe to occupy Hungary and enforce the deportation of the Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz. On 7 July 1944, on the occasion of a weapons exhibition, an attempt by several Wehrmacht officers around von Stauffenberg to kill Hitler failed, when conspirator Helmuth Stieff did not trigger the bomb. Until October 1944, the palace remained outside the reach of Allied bombers. In May 1945 it was seized by the American military administration. Reichsadler statues made of lime stone, that were attached to the entrance portals, were a reminder of the Nazi era.

After the war, Schloss Klessheim was restored to the State of Salzburg. During Cold War, the neutral Austrian government used it to hold conferences and to host international guests, among them US President Richard Nixon, who on his way to Moscow met here with Chancellor Bruno Kreisky on 20 May 1972. Since 1993 it is the seat of the Salzburg casino, which formerly was situated on the Mönchsberg.

The castle also appeared in the 1965 film The Great Race with Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Peter Falk.

  • Reinhard Medicus: Das höchfürstliche Schloss Favoritta zu Klesheimb und sein alter Park, in: Bastei - Zeitschrift des Stadtvereines Salzburg für die Erhaltung und Pflege von Bauten, Kultur und Gesellschaft. 55 Jg. Salzburg 2006. 1. Folge, S. 10–17.

Coordinates: 47°49′06″N 12°59′45″E / 47.81833°N 12.99583°E / 47.81833; 12.99583

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