Situated at the heart of the Austrian province of Carinthia, Villach is the city where several cultures meet. It is so close to the Italian and the Slovenian borders that the cultural and social exchanges are very rich and most rewarding for visitors to the area; tourists enjoy both the surrounding picturesque scenery and the variety of leisure activities. All in all, Villach is a city that bursts with life in the middle of a natural landscape that has remained unspoiled.
Typical Austrian Mountain Landscape
The oldest traces of human inhabitance in the area go back to 3500 BC, and, as archaeological discoveries have shown, the Romans had also made Villach an important settlement; there are plenty of artifacts that date back to those times at the local Villach Museum. The 14th century brought a great destruction to the city that lost almost half its buildings in an earthquake. It further endured several great fires and the conquest by the Napoleonic forces that incorporated it to France.
Among the many sights and places of interest we should definitely mention the Landskron Castle, a favourite touristic attraction that charms visitors through its majesty. Built in the 16th century on a much older foundation, this is a genuine way of experimenting the past. Today, Landskron also houses a modern restaurant, where you can enjoy great traditional dishes, but there is also a monkey park and an ornithological station on the premises. Castle dinner is one of the specialties at the local restaurant. Besides the delicious food, you’ll fit in the atmosphere with the waiters dressed in medieval clothes.
Walking on the old streets of Villach is probably the best way to explore the city. Passing under old arcades and strolling in the narrow streets will definitely teach you a unique history lesson to remember. Make a stop at the Heilige Kreuz church, one of the most exquisite Baroque buildings in Austria. In the same area of sacred domes, you should also visit the St. Jakob church, Austria’s first Protestant church, first mentioned by documents in the 12th century.
Castle in Carinthia
The St. Jakob’s steeple is the highest in all Carinthia with a renown that goes back to the Middle Ages when it appeared in chronicles. At the time it was an architectural style that wasn’t found not even in Venice. For any tourists who want to get a stunning view of the entire city this steeple is the place to be. The effort of the climb is worth taking since you’ll enjoy a sensational panorama. The present day image of the St. Iakob church dates back to the 19th century renovation, following a series of structural damages. The church has survived earthquakes and fires.
For tourists interested in modern artwork and photography, the Lind Photo Gallery is a great spot to visit. Many black and white photographs capture in a unique artistic effort the uncompromising laws of nature. Put together by photographer Wolfgang Bogner, the collection is a fine representation of modern art. In case you’re interested in folk art and crafts there is another special sight open in Villach: the in-house museum of Hotel Ebner in Heiligengeist. Here you’ll get a picture of how people used to live in the Alps throughout the centuries.