Friday, October 7, 2011

A Walk Around Klagenfurt

Last year, dancing goats....this year the LINDWURM! The Lindwurm is a giant dragon, who use to live under the lake (Wörthersee), but was defeated by a local, thus allowing the town of Klagenfurt to be founded, rather than remain a shaky settlement forming at the trade crossroads between Italy and Germany.

Turn, and at the end of the square you will see Maria Theresa. Created in 1764, this was the first statue of impressive empress in all of Austria.

Turn again, put the Lindwurm to your back and you will find yourself walking down the oldest street in Klagenfurt, connecting Neuer Platz (new square) and Alter Platz (old square)...once, this street connected the old town and new town of Klagenfurt. Today, fancy shops line this cobblestone pedestrian street.

Just before reaching Alter Platz, stop to admire the Wörthersee Mandel. See, lots of evil people use to live where Wörthersee now sits. God became so angry at the actions of these people, that he called on his Mandel to open his giant beer barrel and let the waters flow, drowning all of the villagers. Today, those waters still remain in the form of Wörthersee and the lake is still a bit warm because of all the evil people trapped deep down beneath the waters.

Alter Platz, complete with Dreifaltigkeitssäule (column of Holy Trinity), which in the 1600s used to stand around the corner in Heiligengeistplatz (now the main bus terminal). It commemorates the victory over the invading Turks, emphasized by the half moon and the cross on top of the column...or, as others say, it is an anchor commemorating the brave sailor-traders that brought goods through Wörthersee to Klagenfurt through a system of canals, including the Lendkanal.

At the end of the Alter Platz is the Landeshaus,the seat of government. This plaque in front commemorates the vote when Kärntners voted to be part of Austria instead of Slovenia. See, in 1920, there were quite a few little border issues between countries that the Allied powers decided to end the border debate once and for all by drawing official boundaries. Southern Austria, particularly Kärnten had a large population of Slovene speakers. They gathered information on how many speakers of Slovenian were in each town, held a large debate, and eventually allowed Kärnten to vote--Austria or Slovenia. 59% voted for Austria and the rest is history.

Head back towards Alter Platz and past Napoleon's house (where he spent one night with one of the local townswomen, who claimed for the rest of her life she had had all of her happiness in one night, whereas everyone else spread their happiness across several years) and you will come to the Stadttheater, always displaying a fine floral planter.

Continue up Radetzkystrasse, where famous Austrian poet Ingeborg Bachmann used to live, and you come to the Kreuzbergl, the baby mountain/large hill in town. Austrians are fond of adding a "l" to the end of everything to make it seem small, or cute.

Atop the Kreuzbergl sits the Kreuzbergl Kirche, famous for its mosaic stations of the cross that mark the holy path to the church. From the top, you can see the Karawanken (the mountains that now mark the border between Slovenia and Austria. Helllloooo Sloveeeeniiia!

Continue onwards for a good 40 minutes, and you come to Wöthersee, the pride of Klagenfurt, the former home of the Lindwurm and an evil village, and a favorite vacation retreat for many Austrians.

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