Traunkirchen: A somewhat Neglected
Corner of the Salzkammergut - Part I
The village of Traunkirchen near Gmunden is situated by the Lake Traunsee and has everything you expect from a pretty village in the Salzkammergut: A nice church, a lake and hills and mountains embracing this chunk of scenery. Yet the vast crowds of tourists concentrate on Gmunden and other hubs of the region. This means that Traunkirchen provides a good opportunity to explore a non-touristy…well, at least a less touristy Salzkammergut village.
Traunkirchen has been a settlement for a very long time. The oldest archaeological findings date back to Neolithic days, early settlements are also known from the Hallstatt time and Bronze Age. The local mountain Johannesberg has served as a ritual site 3,500 years ago. In the early Middle Ages, a monastic site called "Trunseo" was founded probably near this site. In 909, it became the property of Archbishop Pilgrim I of Salzburg and got Count Aribo as a landlord.
Some bits on Traunkirchen's Monastery
In 1020, the monastery of Traunkirchen was founded by Benedictine nuns from Salzburg to replace the previous site. Despite of the Archbishop of Salzburg being responsible for Traunkirchen, the village became Austrian as early as in the 12th century. Since 1490, it was part of the principality "Österreich ob der Enns". A few rather dull centuries followed, until Traunkirchen was occupied by French-Bavarian troops in the Napoleonic Wars. Since 1918, the village is part of the province of Upper Austria.
In terms of sightseeing, the village in fact offers more than just its general prettiness: The former monastery of Traunkirchen is based on the one from 1020. However, the original building burnt down in 1327 and was rebuilt in the following years. In 1622, the Benedictine nuns left and the monastery was taken over by Jesuites who built a beautiful Baroque church in following another fire in 1632. There is more on the site in the article on the monasteries of Upper Austria. Since the late 18th century and the dissolution of the Jesuites, the buildings serves as a parish church.
Salzkammergut Folk Culture & Traditions
The monastery itself houses a museum dedicated to the Goldhauben, an Austrian custom that I grew up with and is part of my earliest childhood memories, yet I still fail to understand it. For big village outings (holiday services, funerals, high officials visiting) a group of women (usually chubby, old ones) wear a festive dirndl dress and a hat that is embroiled with lots of gold, the so-called "Goldhauben".
If you favour pagan ritual sites, you might prefer the Johannesberg, which is also known as "Odinstein" ("Stone of Odin"). There isn′t much to see, but the hill with its forest is a nice place and was supplemented with a (obviously Christian) chapel at some point before 1356 (which is the year when its oldest record was published). The chapel was later extended by the Jesuites and dedicated to St John the Baptist. More sacral sightseeing can be done at the Kalvarienberg or Calvary Mountain, which was built in 1699. This is the oldest Kalvarienberg of the Salzkammergut.
Continue with: "Traunkirchen - Part II"