The Artist Castle 1959-1974

In the seemingly hopeless situation, in which the castle was in 1959 after all fields including the former palace garden had been sold, it became a place for outsiders. Artists moved into the empty castle, which turned into a secret meeting of the Viennese avant-garde. Friedrich Achleitner, Konrad Bayer, Gerhard Rühm and Oswald Wiener were members of the so-called “Viennese Group”, which formed around 1954 under the influence of the poet H. C. Artmann. They brought other outsiders like Udo Proksch, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Ferry Radax, Walter Pichler and lots of in-people into the place. Musicians, writers, painters and filmmakers animated the castle and its surroundings in the summer months. For them, this forgotten castle on the border, which had served as a granary for over two hundred years, became for them the main attraction of the countryside outside Vienna.


The conceptional artist Padhi Frieberger discovered Hagenberg in 1959. Although the painter Armin Ackermann and the poet Konrad Bayer were those who rented the rooms, it was Padhi who spent fifteen summers and winters here and documented his life and his suffering with his camera. It was Padhi and his friends who saved the castle from destruction in the true sense of the word.

Padhi with the headless clown in front of the entrance to the spiral staircase. © Belvedere, Wien

The artist Walter Pichler photographed by Padhi Frieberger © Belvedere, Wien

KONRAD BAYER 1932 – 1964

Konrad Bayer was the central figure of the “Viennese Group” – the genius loci who immortalized the place with his texts, which contain a myriad of references to the castle, its interior and exterior and to the whole village. Especially the perforated roof, through which he found himself dropping into the night sky, had done it to him.

His suicide on October 10, 1964 was a dramatic event for all his friends. And he is also the person who is spiritually connected with me. For what he wrote, the distant continents and oceans he dreamed up, the story of the captain Vitus Bering in the Pacific Ocean, exactly where I realized our voyage on Hundertwasser’s ship REGENTAG

Konrad Bayer shortly before his death, taken by Ferry Radax © Belvedere, Wien

Konrad Bayer + 1964 – Memorial postcard by Padhi Frieberger © Belvedere, Wien

Quotes Konrad Bayer “The Head of Vitus Bering” Suhrkamp Berlin 1970

Page 20: He breaks his breath and draws a circle around the castle pond.
Page 23: And when he looked out of the window, next to the closet, he saw the fortress, and that was Petersburg, and the air was pleasant, and he breathed that he noticed it; and he was glad he was where he was, and he did not think about it.
Page 28: theory of shipping: vitus bering made travels around the world by ships, but nowhere did he find an end or a ridge.
Page 30f: eat and drink / II … 12. “more water!” Called bering. he had become thirsty.

Quotes KONRAD BAYER “THE SIXTH SENSE” NOVEL, Deuticke Vienna 1993

Page 63f: “hour book” he mumbled and said: “this house is our ship, this ship is the top of the world, always upstairs, the attic with its clotheslines is the command bridge and the big hole in the roof is the look and the coloured towels are our pennants “:
Page 129: that’s the table, no that’s the armchair, it’s the table and there’s the letter, where’s the letter, it’s not there, wait what is that? there is paper, there is the wall, there is the door and there is the switch. goldenberg turns on the light, thinks of the genesis, takes the letter from the drawer and leaves the room.

UDO PROKSCH 1934 – 2001

I knew Udo from when I grew up in Salzburg where he went to the Commercial School and was friend with one of my sisters. During my studies in Vienna, I visited him often, because he thought very much of me. After I quit my studies, I asked him to recommend someone from his extensive circle of acquaintances for whom I could be useful. After months of insistence, he offered me a job in a plastic factory, a job he usually used for his love affairs. After a few weeks, he told me that he knew a crazy painter for whom I could be useful as a secretary. I was introduced to Hundertwasser in February 1965 in the Edenbar in Vienna and immediately had the feeling that I had found somebody special and something useful to do.

Padhi with Udo and the Porsche of his wife, the actress Erika Pluhar ©Belvedere, Wien

The Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky at the “Club 45” in Vienna led by Udo, and surrounded by André Heller, Udo, Hundertwasser and Padhi ©Belvedere, Wien


The painter Frederic Hundertwasser was well aware of the importance of this place. According to Padhi, he also intended to acquire the castle and cover the roof with colourful tiles. I was fortunate enough to stand by his side for many years and to be in contact with him until his premature end in the Pacific.

Hundertwasser with his Japanese wife Yuko in the moat. © Belvedere, Wien

Postcard to Padhi from New Zealand to Hagenberg, April 28, 1974 © Belvedere, Wien
It reads: “Dear Padhi, Here it is as beautiful as in Hagenberg I was really looking forward to your PUZZLE GAME … I am glad that you are alive THIS WORLD IS THE PARADISE – YOUR HUNDERTWASSER”
Exactly on this day, Padhi’s glory in Hagenberg came to an end: the castle was sold to Captain Josef Steiger, who immediately removed all the artists and their objects from the building.
For ordinary people, the castle did not look very inviting, though:

1974 Door openings before the purchase by Josef Steiger in 1974 -© Belvedere, Wien


Michael & Marion Osmann Hagenberg 1, 2133 Fallbach


A tour through the castle is possible on every Sunday at 2:30 p.m. during the warm season or on appointment. Meeting point on the brick bridge over the moat. The tour lasts about 90 minutes. Please register at:

+43 660 1606233

For details see link under: Openings

Connoisseurs of ancient mythology welcome.

The restoration of the temple hall

Those who would like to be part of the refurbishment can do so on the special donation account IBAN: Vereinskonto Initiative Haggenberg AT83 3241 3000 0008 3824              (BIC: RLNWATWWLAA)

Details see link under: Journal - The restoration of the temple hall

News / Journal


The smashed Renaissance oriel of Laa an der Thaya

The smashed Renaissance oriel of Laa an der Thaya

The city of Laa an der Thaya lies on the northern border of Austria, which is one of the oldest borders in open landscape of Europe. It was built in the 13th century on rectangular floor plan with four large squares, which were intended as a rallying point for the...

The restoration of the Temple hall

The restoration of the Temple hall

The big challenge of these two years will be the restoration of the baroque frescoes in the temple hall dedicated to Hermes Trismegistos. Dr Hermann Fuchsberger, the actual head of the Lower Austrian Federal Monuments Office was so impressed on his first visit...

In memory of Hofrat Dr Werner Kitlitschka

In memory of Hofrat Dr Werner Kitlitschka

We would like to join in quiet mourning of our revered patron and friend, the great supporter and admirer of Haggenberg Castle Professor Hofrat Dr Werner Kitlitschka, who passed away on Friday, 19 October 2018 in his 80th year of life. Connected to the Austrian...



Horst A. Wächter