Tamsweg im Lungau:
Salzburg′s Deep, Deep South
If you fancy some seriously remote mountains on your trip to Austria, the Lungau area is what I recommend. The Lungau is the south-eastern most tip of the province of Salzburg, a traditional county and now and administrative district of Austria. The county town / Bezirkshauptstadt of the Lungau area is Tamsweg, which makes a good base for exploring the area - which essentially comprises of one major valley with a few small side-branches. Tamsweg has a population of slightly under 6,000. Culturally, Tamsweg and surroundings are influenced rather by Carinthia than the "Salzburg mainland".
Tamsweg is a relatively prosperous town. It plays an important role as an administrative and commercial centre for the Lungau: There is the hospital, a court, schools and related stuff. In terms of tourism, Tamsweg offers the usual shit: Skiing and other winter sports during the cold season, hiking and other mountain things during the summer. The town is clearly not the most touristy of the Lungau. Attractions include the Kirche St. Leonhard, today again a significant church of pilgrimage. Note also the parish church of St. Jakobus, the Murtalbahn railway through a rather scenic chunk of Salzburg, and the town museum. Beyond that, Tamsweg has a neat historic town centre with an array of burgher houses.
A few words on the history of Tamsweg: The original population of Tamsweg was first Slavonic after approximately 600, later Bavarian after 700. The name Tamsweg was first mentioned in a written document that dates back to 1156. It could be derived from a Bavarian chieftain who settled their with his kin around the year 700 AD. The area belonged to various Carinthian noblemen. In 1246, Archbishop Eberhard II purchased a property in Tamsweg and gave it to the Domkapitel (sort of the board of directors of the Salzburg diocese). At this time, Tamsweg was probably already a parish. The Tamsweg church was first mentioned a few years earlier, in 1231, but only as a branch of the Mariapfarr parish.
Modern History of Tamsweg
Tamsweg′s fame came after 1428: Starting in this year and continuing until 1433, the church of pilgrimage "St. Leonhard" was built. Tamsweg became a popular destination for pilgrims, which ensured the area of a reliable income. The entire Lungau benefited from the pilgrimage business. In 1490, a war between Emperor Friedrich III and King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary waged.
Hungarian troops entrenched themselves in St. Leonhard and the Imperial troops besieged them - as a side-effect, they looted Tamsweg and seriously damaged the town. The situation was worsened by the reformation, which was popular in the Salzburg mountains - and killed off the pilgrimage boom. Only with the counter-reformation, St. Leonhard re-gained significance. Especially after 1644, when Capuchin monks opened a monastery in Tamsweg.
In 1571, Tamsweg became the residential town for the knights of Kuenburg. Conveniently, a Kuenburg became Prince Archbishop of Salzburg a few years later. He presented Tamsweg with its own coat of arms and extended the town′s market privileges. After 1700, trade with salt and iron became the most important sources of income for Tamsweg and the entire Lungau region. In 1797, Tamsweg was occupied by Napoleonic French troops and plundered very badly.
Day-Trips around Tamsweg, Austria
The Napoleonic Wars and the damage they had caused in Salzburg led to the secularisation of the principality. Salzburg - and with it obviously the Lungau - became part of Habsburg Austria and saw a disastrous economic decline. Things improved for the Lungau only almost a century later: In 1894, the Murtal railway connected Tamsweg with the modern world. In 1897, an electricity plant and modern water pipelines were opened. In 1908, the hospital of Tamsweg received its first patients.
A good day-trip attraction near Tamsweg is the very pretty Prebersee, a mountain lake. Here the traditional "Preberschießen" takes place: Riflemen target the reflection of bull′s eyes and shoot; the bullet then hits the water surface in an angle that makes it get bounced back - and it hits the actual target. Quite an extraordinary display, usually accompanied with lots of locals in traditional costumes (Tracht). This is done since 1834, on various occasions. The opening ceremony (the big one) is done in mid-June. In recent years, the Prebersee was developed into a sports- and activities resort for the sake of general tourism.
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