Once denoting the office of imperial or church vogt, the role of Burghauptmann (or burgrave) goes back to the medieval German-ruled Holy Roman Empire. Those holding this title would serve as military commanders and, on occasion, acted as administrators and judges in their assigned royal or ecclesiastical territories. Often, counts assumed the additional function of burgraves. Therefore, burgraves usually came from the ranks of nobility.
The first documented evidence of a burgrave (Michael von Maidburg) and a Burghauptmann appear in 1434 and 1443 respectively. Burgraves were appointed until 1793 when Emperor Franz I (1769-1835) decided to transfer a burgrave’s duties to the Burginspektor. As a result of Emperor Franz Joseph I's (1830-1916) reform of the Court (1849), the Hofburginspektion was renamed Burghauptmannschaft. A detailed official instruction set forth the Burghauptmannschaft's duties as the administration and maintenance of assigned buildings and movables as well as accommodation, security and cleaning services. This was valid until the collapse of the monarchy, upon which the Burghauptmannschaft was integrated into the Federal Buildings Administration.
When the Federal Buildings Administration was reorganised and privatised in 2001, only the Bundesimmobilienverwaltung (Federal Property Department) and the Burghauptmannschaft remained with the Federal Building Construction Department. At that time, buildings and property in all of Austria considered to be part of its cultural and historic heritage were transferred to the Burghauptmannschaft. As a result, the Burghauptmaschaft was renamed Burghauptmannschaft Österreich (BHÖ). Amongst the estates it holds in Vienna are the Hofburg Vienna, the Federal Chancellery of Austria, the Naturhistorisches and Kunsthistorisches Museum, the former War Ministry on the Stubenring which is now used as a government building and a number of palaces. Outside of Vienna, these include the Hofburg Innsbruck, Hohensalzburg Castle, Ambras Castle, and the former concentration camp at Mauthausen. The duties of the BHÖ are governed by the provisions as set forth in Article 22 of the Bundesimmobiliengesetz (Federal Property Act) of the Republic of Austria. At present, approximately 170 staff work in the department, which is headed by the current Burghauptmann, Hofrat Reinhold Sahl.
List of past heads of administration (exercising the function of Burghauptmann (burgrave), castellan) of the Hofburg in Vienna (PDF, 31 kB)