Friesach and surroundings Tourist Attractions
Friesach, one of the oldest towns in Carinthia, lies in the wide Metnitz valley at the junction of the B83 and E7 roads; it is about 30km/19mi north of Klagenfurt and 16km/10mi north of St Veit an der Glan.
Its important position on the trade route between Vienna and Venice made it a town of some consequence in the Middle Ages. Friesach first appears in the records in 860. It grew out of two markets, the Salzburg market and the Gurk market. The fortifications and town moat date from 1124-30. Between 1125 and 1300 coins, known as the "Friesacher Pfennig", were minted here. In the 13th C. the Teutonic Order settled in the town, followed by other religious orders. Owned by the Archbishop of Salzburg until 1803, the town has been repeatedly besieged, plundered and destroyed.Friesach still preserves parts of its medieval defenses, a stretch of the town walls (built 1131) with three defensive towers and an 800m/2,625ft long moat (now filled with water once more) on the valley side of the town.The area surrounding Freisach, in the Gurk valley and alps, has many small towns of historical interest.
Friesach - Hauptplatz
The heart of the town of Friesach is the long Hauptplatz (main square), containing the Renaissance town- fountain, the work of an Italian master, and the 16th C. Altes Rathaus (old town hall) with its facade added in 1838. In Bahnhofstrasse, on the eastern side of the main square, near the moat stands the house where the Salzburg prince-bishops held court; it has the largest arcaded courtyard in Friesach (16th C.).
Friesach - Stadtpfarrkirche
On Wiener Strasse, just north of Friesach's main square, stands the Stadtpfarrkirche (town parish church), originally Romanesque, with beautiful 13th C. stained glass in the choir, below which is a portrayal of the Wise and Foolish Virgins. Also of interest are the 12th C. font and the gravestones.
Friesach - Dominican Monastery
North of the Friesach town center, on the far side of the moat to the right, stands the Dominican Monastery (rebuilt 1673). There is an open-air stage here and plays are performed in summer. The church dates from 1217-64 and has a 14th C. mystical crucifix and a stone figure of the Virgin C. 1300.
Friesach - Church of the Holy Blood
Southwest of Friesach's main square stands the Heiligblutkirche (Church of the Holy Blood; post 1300; there was an earlier 12th. C. church on the site). It is a long single-naved building and named after the Miracle of the Blood of Christ (1238); the Baroque high altar contains a Gothic figure of the Virgin (1420).
To the west of Friesach a steep and narrow road (1.5km/1mi) and a footpath from the upper end of the main square (10 minutes) lead to the Petersberg, with the little St Peter's Church (pre 927; Late Gothic altarpiece of 1525).
In Petersberg can be seen the imposing remains of a castle which belonged to the Archbishops of Salzburg (pre 1077). The 16th C. Commandant's Lodging (Bürgerhauptmannschaft) has a three-story arcaded front. The square multi-storied keep (1130) contains St Rupert's Chapel, with 12th C. wall-paintings (rediscovered in 1926). The richly-endowed town museum (Stadtmuseum) in the keep, with Late Gothic paintings and carvings and much else besides, is also worth a visit.
Ruins of Schloss Lavant
Immediately north of the Petersberg ruins will be found those of Schloss Lavant (1228; burnt down in 1673), once the residence of the Bishops of Lavant.
Friesach - Burg Geyersberg
On the Geyersberg to the north of Friesach (1.5km/1mi) stands a castle dating from the 12th C., with a Romanesque keep. It was partially restored in 1911-12 and is now privately owned.
Friesach - Virgilienberg Church Ruins
The Virgilienberg rises south of Friesach. On it lie the ruins of a 13th-14th C. church which was burned down in 1816.
Further up the Metnitz Valley
13km/8mi to the west of Friesach lies the loftily situated village of Grades (863m/2,832ft), with a Schloss (16th and 17th C.) which belonged to the Bishops of Gurk, a Romanesque parish church with 13th C. frescos and St Wolfgang's Church (1465-75) which has a fine 15th C. carved altar.
Situated 4km/2.5mi west of Grades, Metnitz (867m/2,845ft) has a fortified Gothic church containing 13 life-sized Late Baroque figures of the Apostles. Adjoining the cemetery stands an octagonal charnel-house, originally decorated externally with a painted Dance of Death (C. 1500) which is now kept inside the church.
Further up the Metnitz valley, 37km/23mi from Friesach, lies the mountain resort and winter sports area of Flattnitz (1,390m/4,561ft). It has an attractive round Gothic church (c. 1330), originally Romanesque, consecrated in 1173.
East of Gurk lies Strassburg (658m/2,159ft; pop. 3,000), a little walled town of medieval aspect. The interesting Gothic parish church has a Baroque organ (1743) and tombstones of Bishops of Gurk. On the western side of the town stands a round church, the Heilig-Geist-Spital-Kirche (13th-16th C.), with beautiful frescos. High above the town rises the Schloss (built 1147 and enlarged in later centuries), which was until 1780 the residence of the Prince-Bishops of Gurk; it now houses a local museum. Fifteen minutes west of Strassburg lies Lieding, a picturesque little place with a richly furnished Gothic church.
Iron Ore Mine and Museum, Huttenberg, Austria
The town of Hüttenberg is located at the northern end of the Gurk River. It is well known for its Iron Ore Mine and Museum, which offers guided tours.
Map of Friesach and surroundings Attractions