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The Austrian town of Friesach will be home to a new medieval castle, to built using construction methods from the period. The project, which is being called a unique cooperation combining sustainable tourism and science, is expected to take thirty years and will involve work by a number of Austrian historians.
Medieval castles are regarded as buildings of particular stability: Even after 1,000 years, many have successfully withstood the ravages of time. Making the most of a construction site, where a castle is being constructed using medieval methods, historians are critically examining the existing knowledge about tools and materials, in an effort to gain new insights.
“For example, a female expert in the history of construction is currently conducting research in Friesach in order to discover the secret of the medieval mortar mixture”, Johannes Grabmayer, project leader at the Department of History at the Alpen-Adria-Universität explains. An understanding of this “perfect mortar” could also be of interest to today’s manufacturers of construction equipment and materials.
The project adheres to strict specifications: “Upon passing through the gateway, one enters an authentic medieval construction site. Using only the strength of humans and animals, trees have been felled and the necessary infrastructure for the construction of the castle has been established. Looking ahead, 4,000 tons of stone need to be shifted. A number of site huts have already been completed”, Grabmayer explains further.
The first step in the construction process will be the castle keep. Then, a curtain wall, living quarters, a chapel and a variety of outbuildings will follow. As was the case during the Middle Ages, the pace of progress will depend upon the weather, among other factors.
The project was officially launched week as a cornerstone for the visitors centre was erected. It is hoped that the visitors’ centre will attract an even greater number of visitors to the castle construction site.
Grabmayer adds, “We offer four guided tours through the site every day, and we are developing infrastructure that is designed specifically for our visitors”.
A similar project was started at Guédelon, France in 1997, while in the American-state of Arkansas, the Ozark Medieval Fortress project was started. In 2012, the project was closed indefinitely.