Klessheim Castle is located four kilometers west of the city center and enchanted by its baroque architecture and unique gardens. Originally built as a refuge by the archbishop prince, today it is the seat of the Salzburg casino.
Schloss Klessheim History
Originally called Kleshof, the castle looked like a small country house that was bought in 1690 by the Archbishop of Salzburg, Johann Ernst von Thun. The architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach had the task of converting the building into a large castle for the vacation of the prince-archbishop starting from 1700 but after the death of the prelate in 1709 his successor, Franz Anton von Harrach stopped the works to favor the construction of the castle of Mirabell. Archbishop Leopold Anton von Firmian, who also had Leopoldskron Castle built, ended Klessheim Castle, including the interior rooms and gardens. At the end of the 18th century, Archbishop Hieronymus von Colloredo had the park redone in an English style.
After the secularization of the archbishopric principality of Salzburg together with the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1803, the castle of Klessheim passed to the dynasty of the Habsburgs of Austria. In 1866 it became the permanent residence of the Archduke Louis of Habsburg-Lorraine (1842-1919), younger brother of Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria, who further extended the castle to a design by Heinrich von Ferstel and died here in 1919 His heirs subsequently sold the property to the federal state of Salzburg.
After the Anchluss of 1938, Adolf Hitler, when he went to his Berghof residence (not far from the place where the castle stands) used to convene in the rooms of the conference building and host exceptional personalities such as Benito Mussolini, Miklós Horthy , Ion Antonescu, Jozef Tiso and Ante Pavelić. While Horthy was staying in Klessheim, Hitler gave a secret order on 19 March 1944 to start Operation Margarethe to occupy Hungary with the intent of forcing the deportation of Hungarian Jews to the Auschwitz concentration camp. It was during the Nazi occupation that the castle was decorated with some statues made of sandstone that still remain as a testimony of that era.
After the war, the castle underwent careful restoration work. During the Cold War the Austrian government, which remained neutral to the conflict, was able to organize various conferences here with special guests such as President Richard Nixon on May 20, 1972. Since 1993 the structure has housed the Salzburg Casino, particularly appreciated by visitors for its happy mix of baroque elements and modern designs.