St Veit an der Glan:
A rare Sightseeing Gem in Carinthia
Generally speaking, Carinthia is known for summer sports like sailing, windsurfing and hiking rather than sightseeing. The town of St Veit an der Glan with other nearby attractions is an exception to this rule. There are easily enough sights to justify a day-trip at any time of the year, but I recommend to come either for Pentecost or in the last week of September, when the "Wiesenmarkt" ("meadown market"), a traditional fair, takes place.
Upon these occasions, all sorts of old traditions are celebrated. Most importantly, the "Trabanten" walk around in processions - they are an old guild in traditional uniforms that guard over the local pride of the town′s burghers and underline its self-confidence. Local pride is a big deal in Carinthia, and the Trabanten are not the only sign of that. The Wiesenmarkt of September is particularly famous in Austria and usually attracts up to half a million visitors.
Walking around in St Veit, you will immediately realise that the town has been an important centre of trade and traffic ever since the Middle Ages: The elaborate burgher houses with Medieval, Renaissance or (mostly) Baroque facades tell the story of a prosperous place. In fact, St Veit was the capital of Carinthia until 1518 - and this was in a time when the local administration was very important and the dukes of Carinthia enjoyed a high degree of independence. To learn more about the late Medieval history of St Veit - and something about its more recent past - check out the Stadtmuseum (town museum) in the Herzogsburg ("Duke′s Palace").
Modern Sights & Nearby Attractions
Other attractions include the obligatory trio of Rathaus City Hall (with an arcaded courtyard), Hauptplatz Main Square (with the usual array of Medieval and Baroque houses) and Parish Church. The latter one is well-worth a closer look. For people with an interest in trains, the local "Verkehrsmuseum" ("Museum of Transport") might be appealing.
A completely unexpected attraction of St Veit is a building designed by Ernst Fuchs. This painter is one of the most famous representatives of the "Wiener Phantistischer Realismus" (Viennese Phantastic Realists), figural, LSD-esque school of painting whose most important contributors were Fuchs and his friends Friedensreich Hundertwasser and Arik Brauer. All three of them had more or less Jewish and more or less Viennese roots, were fed up with the abstract and non-figural styles of post-WWII fine arts and experimented with all sorts of artistic media.
This included architecture: Whilst Hundertwasser designed the thermal spa of Blumau, a caloric power plant in Vienna, the KunstHaus Wien and the Hundertwasserhaus Wien (alongside a rang of other buildings), Fuchs and Brauer were less proliferate in the world of architecture. The latter one designed a public toilet on a highway stop near Mondsee, Fuchs′ architectural masterpiece is the Hotel St Veit in St Veit an der Glan. Take it as an appetiser for more of Fuchs paintings, he is my favourite of the three Phantastic Realists.
Nearby attractions include the amazing castle of Hochosterwitz, the Zollfeld area, the capital Klagenfurt and the amazing Romanesque Cathedral of Gurk. The Medieval town of Friesach is not far either - nor are the scenic Carinthian lakes in the south of the province. But to be totally honest, Carinthia is small enough to call pretty much everything "nearby" if you travel by car.