The atmospheric historic centre of Klagenfurt is the beating heart of the city, where almost all important tourist sights are concentrated. It has a shape close to a quadrangle, formed by several ring streets, laid down over the foundations of the old medieval and Renaissance fortification walls of the city, destroyed during the Napoleonic wars in the beginning of the 19th century.
In the centre of the old town you will find the spacious and very picturesque Neuer Platz or New Square. The focal point of this square is a remarkable Renaissance fountain, known as the Lindwurm or the Dragon Fountain. It has turned into a symbol of Klagenfurt and one of the most popular tourist attractions, photographed by hundreds of visitors each day. The 16th-century fountain was built of a large stone block brought by the nearby Kreuzbergl Mountain It is positioned over the remains of a medieval Gothic structure. The impressive Renaissance sculpture of a ferocious winged dragon represents the ancient local legend about the foundation of Klagenfurt. It was worked out of cast-iron in 1590 by Ulrich Vogelsang. The sculptor created the head of the dragon using as a model an old skull found during the 14th century in the surroundings of the city, which the local people believed was the head of the slain Lindwurm – the same as in the ancient legend. In fact this is a skull of an extinct Ice Age animal species, called wooly rhinocerous or Coelodonta antiquitatis in Latin. The original skull can be still seen in the local Carinthia State Museum (Landesmuseum), located in the old town, near the Dom. The sculpture of a strong man in front of the dragon is called Hercules and was erected later in 1636, honoring the brave Carinthian, who according to the legend slain the Lindwurm and save Carinthians from his attacks. The statue was created by Michael Hönel, a skillful artist who also crafted the high altar of the famous Romanesque Gurk Cathedral (a short drive from Klagenfurt). In the same 1636 the exquisite Renaissance railing made of wrought-iron was added and the fountain received its complete form, preserved intact until present day.
Surrounded by lines of picturesque historic building Neuer Platz is a nice place for a walk and relaxation. The mid-17th-century Renaissance palace on the west side of the square, housing the New City Hall (Rathaus), was a former family palace of the Counts of Rosenberg, that’s why it is also known as Palais Rosenberg. The building has an impressive staircase.
Neuer Platz with the Maria Theresa
The centerpiece in the eastern part of Neuer Platz is the bronze statue of Empress Maria Theresa. It is her earliest monument erected in Austria, dating back to the 1765. It was first created as a hard-lead statue. Then, in 1873 it was replaced by a new bronze sculpture, created by Franz Pönninger and Rudolf Bayer. The original position of the monument was the west part of the square on the place, where once stood an equestrian statue of Emperor Leopold I. In 1972 an underground car park was built there and the Monument of Maria Theresa was moved to its present-day position.
South of Neuer Platz, at the Domplatz square is located the Cathedral of Kalgenfurt or the Domkirche in Austrian German. The construction works on this picturesque baroque-style church were started in the last quarter of the 16th century. It was commissioned by the city’s Protestant Estates and completedin 1581. The Domkirche is dedicated to the Holy Trinity and boasts rich interior decoration and some interesting 18th-century frescoes on the ceilings. Right next to it is situated the Diocesan Museum, displaying an impressive collection of religious art comprising a long period of time, starting with Romanesque examples and ending with the late Neoclassicism. It includes some unique artifacts, such as a 12th-century processional cross and a variety of sculptures, jewelry, tapestries and other artworks. Close to the Cathedral is located the Goldener Brunnen House. This is an interesting 17th-century building, which was once an Jesuit seminary. It will impress with a splendid semi-circular monumental gate.
Alter Platz with the Trinity Column
Another important place you should see in Kalgenfurt is the Alter Platz or the Old Square – the heart of the historic centre. The name “Alter Platz” refers both to the oldest town square and a pleasant pedestrian street, starting from it and heading to the east and lined by pretty Baroque houses. They date back to the very foundation of the city in the 12th century. On the Alter Platz you will see the Trinity Column. Initially it was erected in 1680 on a nearby square (Heiligengeistplatz) to commemorate the vicitims of a huge plague epidemy. After the great victory against the Ottoman Turks in the battle at Vienna in 1683 a composition of a cross over a half-moon was added to the top of the column, symbolizing the victory of Christianity (the cross) over the muslim Turks (the half-moon). In 1965 the Trinity Column was moved to the Alter Platz. Another important monument on the square is the Haus Zur Goldenen Gans. One of the oldest, still standing structures in the city, it dates back to the late 15th-century. Pay attention to its gracious arcades and the relief in its inner courtyard. The Rosenberg Palace, also known as the Welzer Palace and the Old City Hall (Altes Rathaus) is another impressive Baroque structure at the Alter Platz of Klagenfurt. It is an early 17th-century palace, constructed by a prominent Spanish architect as a residence of the local noble Rosenberg family, whose coat of arms crowns the main portal of the building. You should also pay attention to the three stories of elaborate arcades surrounding the palace’s inner courtyard.
Close to the northern side of the Old Square, at Pfarrplatz Square is situated the parish church of the city – Stadtpfarrkirche. It is dedicated to St Egyd. The church was erected in the 17th century over the ruins of a medieval 13th-century basilica with three aisles. Impressive frescoes can be seen in its Fuchs Chapel.
The Landhaus of Klagenfurt is among the most splendid secular buildings in the city. It is located between the Neuer and Alter Platz and dates back to the late 16th century. The Landhaus is built over the remains of a medieval ducal castle, which was once surrounded by a fortification moat full of water. The preserved building was ordered by the Estates and designed by the architects Hans Freymann and Johann Anton Verda. It is worth entering the Landhaus to see its amazing coat-of-arms hall, displaying more than 660 coats of arms of prominent Carinthian noble families, provincial governors and the city’s Provincial Estates. The Grosse Wappensaal is another elegant hall inside the palace, featuring an interesting Baroque painting from the first half of 18th century.
You can find a variety of reputable hotels for all budgets and all purposes, situated in Klagenfurt historic centre and its close surroundings. The 4 star Arcotel Moser-Verdino is positioned right between the Alter and the Neuer Platz, the 3 star Hotel Geyer is just meters from the atmospheric pedestrian area around Alter Platz. Hotel Atrigon and Hotel Aragia are both just a short stroll from the old town.