Things to see and do - Klagenfurt
Around Klagenfurt :
Nearby tourist sites
Around KlagenfurtBy car, 70 km, 2 days
The old town of Klagefurt proudly displays its 800 years of history, for instance Maria Saal fortified church where Saint Modestus, so called Apostole of Carinthia, preached in the second half of the 8C. The church of St Veit an der Glan (seat of the court of the Dukes of Carinthia until the 16C) rose up in the 13C. In the area, don't miss the fortified castle of Frauenstein and the Gurk cathedral, masterpiece of Romanesque architecture.Customise this route and add it to My travel book
16C mansions with Baroque façades and Renaissance arcaded courtyards give this square special character. The Old Town Hall is attractive because of its Renaissance doorway and three-tiered arcaded courtyard. On the western side, the square is closed by the "House of the Golden Goose", while on the southwest corner stands the Goess mansion with a Baroque façade. A network of small streets lead off the square, such as the Wiener Gasse, lined by the Ossiacher Hof with fine inner courtyards.
Begun by the Lutherans in 1578, the cathedral was later attributed to the Jesuits who extended the choir and added chapels. After a fire in 1723, the interior was decorated with Baroque stuccowork, which enhances the nave's brightness. Note the high-altar painting, magnificent pulpit by Christoph Rudolph, and Apotheosis of St John of Nepomuk by Joseph Fromiller. More than a dozen types of marble give beautiful tones to the side altars.
The Landhaus' ceremonial room or Great Blazon Hall, was decorated by Joseph Fromiller in the 18C. This master of Baroque painting produced the fine ceiling fresco showing members of the States of Carinthia paying homage to Emperor Karl VI (1728), framed by trompe l'oeil galleries. He also painted most of the 665 coats of arms, covering the walls and window embrasures that belonged to the powerful men sitting in the Regional Parliament from 1591 to 1848.
The Diocesan Museum aims to give a good general picture of religious art in Carinthia, covering all fields: jewellery, tapestry and embroidery, sculpture, painting, stained glass. Next to appealing folk art specimens, there are outstanding works of art, like a 12C processional cross (iron with traces of gilding) or the precious Magdalen window, from 1170, the oldest in Austria but strikingly modern in style.
Carinthia's oldest Mining Museum lies in former Kreuzbergl air-raid shelters. Numerous rare and valuable exhibits illustrate local mining history. As in a treasure room, the finest and biggest local mineral samples are on display, including an enormous one-metre-high chunk of cairngorm weighing about 200 kg. Charming botanical gardens end this visit.
Maria Saal, near the ancient Roman town of Virunum, was founded in the 8C by St Modestus, the apostle of Carinthia. Fortifications surrounding the present 15C Gothic building are a reminder that this pilgrimage church was often attacked by the Turks. Its outbuildings also include a Romanesque ossuary and round baptistry, with two tiers of arcaded galleries. The church itself cuts a fine figure with its twin tuff towers and greenish sandstone-tiled roof. Among the tombstones incorporated in its walls, note the surprising Roman low reliefs, such as the "Roman mail wagon*" which in fact depicts a journey into the afterlife. The splendid red-marble Keutschach tombstone*, depicting the Coronation of the Virgin dates from 1510. On the square, a low relief shows Romulus and Remus with the she-wolf. Inside, the three-nave church is typical of the late-Gothic style. Vaulting is adorned with 15C frescoes representing the genealogy of Christ. The high altar's miraculous image of the Virgin, from 1714, is an object of devotion for pilgrims. Other outstanding works include a Medieval fresco of the Three Wise Men, on the choir's north wall and, above all, the sumptuous Arndorf altarpiece* (about 1520) and St George altarpiece (1526). The pulpit and glittering organ are both Baroque. Finally, a moving child's sarcophagus houses the tomb* of St Modestus, in the Saxony Chapel founded in 1451.
Take the scenic road up the flanks of the Magdalensberg to enjoy beautiful glimpses of the Klagenfurt basin and the Karawanken. An Archeological Park and excavations expose traces of a former Roman town that was the Eastern Alps' political and economic centre on the site of an even older village. From the top of the mount stands a Gothic pilgrimage chapel offering a majestic panorama.
This early-13C church dedicated to St Guy has a vault with intersecting ribs and a Chapel of St Bernard added in the 15C. The late-Baroque high altar and pulpit are by Johann Pacher, a local wood carver. The north side of the choir has 15C frescoes that were rediscovered in 1959. To the south of the church, stands a round Romanesque ossuary, with an unusual Carolingian stone fragment near the portal.
Narrow alleys lead to the main square, which is a sea of flowers from Spring to Autumn. It is surrounded by characteristic, mostly three-storey houses. Of the three structures which distinguish the square, the most interesting stands next to the traditional Plague Column: the Key Fountain (Schlüsselbrunnen), whose ancient basin is thought to have adorned the forum of the Roman town of Virunum. It is topped by a small, grotesque, bronze figure from 1566, in a 16C miner's costume, the "Schlüsselbrunnbartele", and now the town mascot. On the western side of the square, stands the Walther von der Vogelweide Fountain (1676), whose bronze statue dates from 1960 and represents the most famous German troubadour, who once performed at St Veit's court. The Town Hall (Rathaus*) is an elegant Gothic building with Baroque stuccowork, whose inner courtyard is one of the finest in Carinthia. The Regional Military Headquarters, built in 1780, (Bezirkshauptmannschaft) lines the square's western edge. It has a marble doorway and was built in the Baroque and colder Neo-Classical styles. Carinthia House (Carinthia-Haus) lies to the east, closing the Unteren Platz. This imposing, three-storey building boasts a Medieval framework and a mid-16C gateway.
This fortress stands in the middle of the countryside, beyond the village of Obermühlbach and more than 5 km from St. Veit an der Glan. It is a pleasant finishing point for a stroll, with an evocative complex of massive towers, as well as turrets and roofs of unequal height. Note the attractive inner arcaded courtyard.
Gurk Cathedral, a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture in Austria, was built from 1140 to 1220. It is hard to believe that it remained almost forgotten before being rediscovered in the late 19C. Indeed, it offers an astonishing profusion of works of art. Exterior highlights include elegant decorative stonework, the central chevet with a Romanesque relief of mythical basiliks*, Gothic porch stained-glass windows and wall paintings* of Bible scenes and the fine West Porch** foliage decoration. Various styles cohabit in the interior, such as the triple Romanesque naves topped by Gothic vaults or Gothic frescoes and Renaissance wood panels, which mix with Baroque furnishings whose lines, are outstandingly fresh. Masterpieces include the extraordinary Romanesque Samson* doorway, unusual and multicoloured carved wood panels* from the 1500s, a gigantic wall painting devoted to St Christopher (1250) or the golden high altar**, with 72 strikingly realistic, life-size statues. The Baroque pulpit* is one of the most inspired works of the Counter Reformation. The extremely refined Gurk veil* or Fastentuch (1458) is also surprising, whose 99 (!) paintings depict scenes from the Old and New Testament. The Episcopal Chapel's Romanesque murals** are a grandiose composition. The 100-pillar crypt**, resembling a mystical forest, houses St Emma's red marble tomb.