Feldkirch Tourist Attractions
Feldkirch, the old district capital in Vorarlberg, the most westerly town in Austria, lies some 35km/22mi south of Bregenz, where the Ill carves its way through a rocky gorge from the Wallgau into the Rhine valley.
Divided into the districts of Tisis, Tosters and Nofels, it adjoins the Principality of Liechtenstein. Feldkirch is an international rail and road junction on the route via the Arlberg to Innsbruck and to the tourist centers near the Arlberg and in the Grosses Walsertal. Now that the Bregenz-Arlberg-Innsbruck motorway bypasses Feldkirch through the Arlberg Tunnel the town is less disturbed by traffic. The Feldkirch region was inhabited during the Bronze Age. About 1190 Count Hugo I of Montfort built the Schattenburg (see below) and founded a settlement at its foot. In 1376 Count Rudolf of Montfort granted the town its "Great Letter of Freedom" and one year later sold it to the Habsburgs. Since then, apart from the period 1806-14 when the whole of Vorarlberg formed part of the Kingdom of Bavaria, Feldkirch has been Austrian. In 1884 the Arlberg Railway was opened; the line from Bregenz to Bludenz had been in operation since 1872. Feldkirch was the birthplace of the doctor and geographer Hieronymus Münzer (1437-1508), of the painter Wolf Huber (after 1480-1539), an important member of the "Danube School", and of the humanist, mathematician and astronomer Georg Joachim Rheticus (1514-76), who disseminated the new map of the world drawn up by his teacher Copernicus.
The view of Neustadt, the oldest part of Feldkirch, is dominated by the Schattenburg (castle). It can be approached by either the steep track up to it or by Burggasse. This was the seat of the Counts of Montfort from the early 12th C. until 1390. The castle has a beautiful courtyard with a wooden ambulatory and a palace with a banqueting room. It also houses a local museum with a collection of weapons and a Romanesque crucifix (c. 1250). From the keep there is a fine view of the town. There is a restaurant with a Rittersaal ("Knights' Room") and Burgkeller ("Castle Cellar").
In the Levis district, 1.5km/1mi north of the Feldkirch town center, places to see include the infirmary (Siechenhaus), a beautiful 13th C. half-timbered building (now a youth hostel) and the Magdalenenkirche (church of Mary Magdalene) with 14th C. frescos both outside and in and wooden sculptures of Erasmus Kern from Feldkirch. Above the town lies Schloss Amberg, built in 1502 and tastefully restored in 1928 (now a bed and breakfast hotel).
The Ardetzenberg (629m/2,064ft; 20 minutes from the town of Feldkirch) has vines growing on its slopes, a path for walkers and a wildlife park, laid out in 1963, with 24 different species of native wild animals.
Tisis Parish Church and Tosters Ruins
In Feldkirch's Tisis quarter will be found an attractive parish church (15th C.) the pilgrimage chapel of St Cornelis and the ruined Burg Tosters (13th C.) with a preserved keep.
Northeast of Feldkirch lies Rankweil (470m/1,543ft; pop. 10,000), beautifully situated at the mouth of the Laternser Tal. In the lower town, the Church of St Peter is well worth a visit; built in the 13th C., it was remodeled in the Baroque style in the 17th-18th C., and has a seated figure of the Virgin (1350).
On a crag in the middle of Rankweil, the Liebenfrauenberg (515m/1,690ft), stand the ruins of the 14th C. Burg Hörnlingen, with the pilgrimage church of Mariä Heimsuchung (the Visitation; built 15th and 17th C.; now a basilica). This church contains a wooden crucifix of 1450 and a 15th. C. figure of the Virgin Mary. From the gallery there are superb views over the Rhine valley, the Rätikon and the chain of the Glarn Alps and the Säntis.
A steep road runs 6km/4mi southeast from Rankweil to the beautifully situated village of Übersaxen (900m/2,950ft), with a church of 1383 which contains a statue of the Virgin of 1460 and a processional cross of about 1250.
East of Rankweil lies the mouth of the Laternser Tal, a valley in which nestle a series of attractive villages, such as Batschuns (570m/1,870ft), with a modern church (1923) on the hill, the little Schloss Weissenberg (c. 1400) and the large house of retreat built in 1964. Laterns (998m/3,275ft; pop. 570), the chief place in the valley, Innertalerns and Bad Laterns are other villages to be found here. From Laterns a footpath (two hours) leads through the Üble Schlucht ("Evil Gorge") to Rankweil.
One hour's walk north of Latern brings you to the Alpe Furx (1,100m/3,610ft), a popular health resort and winter sports area. From here it a three hours' climb via the Alpwegkopf (1,430m/4,692ft) and the Saluveralm (1,609m/5,279ft) to the Freschenhaus (1,846m/6,057ft), with the St Bernard chapel (1952) and an Alpine garden. It is a further 30 minutes from there to the summit of the Hoher Freschen (2,006m/6,582ft), with fine panoramic views.
The Feldkirch Schubertiade is an annual music festival that runs from early May to late September. The town plays hosts to numerous concerts by internationally-acclaimed orchestras, chamber groups and soloists. Although the music of Schubert is the main focus of the festival, other composers, especially Beethoven, are also featured.