Lakes of Austria and Slovenia (part 1)

Klagenfurt and Wörthersee

Klagenfurt is a capital of Austrian province  Corinthia. With about 100.000 inhabitants is the sixth largest in Austria. The city is situated in Klagenfurt basin close to Wörthersee on the river Glan.

By the legend the city was built by brave men. It was in the time when duke Karast ruled from Karnburg Castle. The complete area between Wörthersee and Drau river was covered in damp moss, bushes and trees. Everybody who dared to go there never returned. Sometimes even cows, which grazed there, disappeared with no trace. Nobody ever saw the beast hiding in swamp and fog, only a snarl or howl could be heard from there. The Duke requested his bravest men to find this monster and kill it. The prize for slaughtering the monster was high and alluring: receiving the tower with the land, where this monster lives and whole land from river Glan and river Drau. If the man is a slave, he will be set free. A strong observation tower was soon erected on the edge of the swamp. A bull was tied to a chain and a hook was attached to it. Soon after swamp begun to bubble, water became rough. Winged monster jumped out of the water, grabbed frightened animal and tried to dip back into the swamp. It couldn’t. The hook has stuck in its muzzle. At this point brave men jumped and slaughtered the beast with cudgels and axes. Soon after everything was over and country was safe from the monster. A peace-loving village grew on the spot where the fight against the Lindwurm took place and the Duke built a castle where the tower was once situated. Over the centuries this castle and tower developed into a town, the current capital of the region, the attractive and pleasant city of Klagenfurt.

From a historical point of view the city was founded by duke Bernhard von Speinheim in 13th century. His statue stands on Dr. Arthur Lemisch Platz.

Dragon Lindwurm is today a symbol of the city and it has found its place on the New Square. On the other side of the square the statue of Austrian empress Maria Theresa stands. Today we remember her after reforms she implemented to strengthen Austria’s military and bureaucratic efficiency. One of the reforms was also reform of education system. In new school system every child from the ages of six to twelve had to attend school.

Lindwurm on New Square

Lindwurm on New Square

Taking Kramergasse, the first pedestrian zone closed for traffic in Austria, you come to the Old Square. On Kramergasse you pass by The little man of the lake Wörthersee. Once upon a time on the place of present Wörthersee there was a splendind, big and rich town. On the eve of Easter they were celebrating a feast with dance, music and lot of drinks. Suddenly the door of the hall opened and a little man entered, reminded them about the feast and threatened with punishment if they don’t end this embarrassing drinking immediately. But all people laughed about the old man. Soon after he appeared again, nobody listened to him, all laughed again to him. He opened the spigot of a small barrel he was carrying with him. A terrible thunderstorm begun and endless floods of water covered the city together with its inhabitants. The city was devastated. Still today at the south bank of lake Wörthersee at Maiernigg you can hear bells of this sunken city ringing.

Little man of lake Worther

Little man of lake Worther

The core of the oldest part of Klagenfurt is the long street known as Alter Platz or Old Square surrounded by many Baroque buildings. Among these is Old Town Hall (built around 1600) with three-storied arcaded courtyard. Its notable features include the arcaded courtyard and the coat of arms of the Rosenberg family above the main entrance as well as Fromiller’s painting of Justitia, the goddess of justice, with the coat of arms of Klagenfurt and Carinthia. Trinity column was originally made of wood and standing on Heiligengeistplatz. After victory over the Turks at Vienna in 1683, a half-moon and cross were added. In 1965 it was relocated to Alter Platz.

Close to New Square and Old Square is another for Klagenfurt significant square Landhaushof. Probably more significant from the square is the building encircling the square. Landhaus was commissioned by the Estates and built by Freymann and Verda between 1574 and 1594. It replaced the town’s first castle.The coat-of-arms hall has 665 coats of arms of the Carinthian Provincial Estates, provincial governors, members of the cathedral chapter and provincial administrators.

And for the end something sweet. Strudel is most often associated with Austrian cuisine, but is also a traditional pastry in the area formerly belonging to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It is true that it gained international success via the Viennese cuisine, but the origin of the apple strudel is to be found in what was known as “the Orient”. When the Turks occupied Hungary, the Hungarians got to know the strudel which then became quite popular in Hungary. From there the strudel found its way into the Viennese cuisine. The oldest known Strudel recipe is from 1696, a handwritten recipe housed at the Wiener Stadtbibliothek.

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