Maria Saal Tourist Attractions
The pilgrimage church of Maria Saal, on a hill above the Zollfeld some 10km/6mi north of Klagenfurt, is one of the leading places of pilgrimage in Carinthia. Here about the year 750 Bishop Modestus consecrated a church dedicated to the Virgin, from which the surrounding area was Christianized. In 1480 the Hungarians besieged the present fortified church but were unable to take it.
The twin-towered church was built in the Gothic style in the first half of the 15th C. on the foundations of a Roman basilica, and was remodeled during the Renaissance and Baroque periods. The church and cemetery are surrounded by a defensive wall. The church possesses a west facade with twin towers. On the south wall are some fine old gravestones, including Gothic stones of red Adnet marble; particularly worthy of mention are the Keutschach Epitaph (16th C.) depicting the Coronation of Our Lady, and a Roman stone relief of a post wagon (third or fourth C. A.D.). In front of the south doorway stands a Late Gothic "lantern of the dead". Note also the finely proportioned octagonal Romanesque charnel house, surrounded by a frescoed arcade of about 1500. The three aisled Late Gothic hall church has a fan vaulted roof, and the varied yet harmonious whole has a marked effect on anyone visiting it. In the panels of the vaulting above the center aisle the Tree of Jesse (1490) depicts the genealogy of Christ by means of both human figures and ornamental designs. In the center of the Baroque high altar (1714) shines forth a much venerated image of the Virgin (1425). Also of interest are the two Gothic winged altars in the choir - the Arndorf Altar on the left and the Altar of St George on the right, with a portrayal of St George fighting the Dragon. In the second chapel (the Saxon Chapel) in the left aisle can be seen a pre-Romanesque altar table, under which lies a Roman sarcophagus containing the remains of St Modestus (d. 763). Beautiful too are the wall paintings, especially the fresco by the high altar showing the Three Kings (15th C.), and on the south wall of the transept is a large fresco by Herbert Boeckl (1925).