Voitsberg in Styria:
Industrial Heritage meets Historic Town
Voitsberg is a town in Styria with approximately 10,000 residents. It is situated in a former centre of the Austrian mining industry, right in the so-called Western Styrian mountain and hill region. Voitsberg is a county town (Bezirkshauptstadt), which makes it an important administrative, educational and economic centre for the area. In terms of sightseeing, Voitsberg is nice and offers the usual sights of a historic market town - yet the place is not a very touristy one. Historically, Voitsberg has been an important trade town.
Similar to Bärnbach, Voitsberg has one single key-attraction, created by a Vienna Phantastic Realist: The city hall was designed by the hippie-artist Arik Brauer in 2002. It is called "Kunsthaus Rathaus", was built on the site of a previously existing Rathaus (Medieval) and has its own Glockenspiel. It makes the core of Voitsberg. Other elements of this are a market square with nice Medieval and Baroque town houses, narrow lanes - and the ruined castle of Burgruine Obervoitsberg. The ruins of the castle were partly covered by a roof in 2003.
Since then, the ruins serve as a venue for cultural events like the annual "Burghofspiele", a theatre festival of local interest. Obervoitsberg was built in 1170, but most walls that you can see today date back to the 14th and 15th century. Speaking of ruins: There are remains of the old city walls on various spots - as well as a tower from the late 14th or early 15th century. Most of the city walls and gates were demolished in the mid-19th century, when the mining brought a lot of money into the region.
Churches of Voitsberg
The church of St.-Josefs-Kirche was built as a monastic church between 1690 and 1708 in Baroque style. Note the former Carmelite monastery, founded in 1395 and dissolved in 1812. In the Middle Ages, Voitsberg has had a significant Jewish population and its own synagogue until 1493. The old Jewish quarter is still distinct in the old town. Note the St.-Michaels-Kirche, a late Romanesque church with a core from the 13th century. Later, the church received a Gothic upgrade. A Mariensäule or Trinity Column from 1753 commemorates the bubonic plague, which battered Styria in the late 17th century.
Schloss Greißenegg was once a castle built in the 13th century. It served military purposes, was later transformed into a more representative place and saw its end in 1877: The entrepreneur August Zang re-modelled it into a rather unappealing historicist chateaux. Another important attraction is the Burgruine Krems; its origins can be tracked back to the 12th century. In the late 16th and early 17th century, it was extended and modernised by the Counts of Herberstein. The castle keep is still upright - even though it has required a lot of preservation measures. It dates back to the 13th century.
More Sights of Voitsberg
Note the former hospital of Bürgerspital, which came with a chapel, the Annenkirche. The building was erected in 1443 and made an apartment house in the 19th century. Note the Kirche zum Heiligen Blut, according to legend built in 1293. Later, the church was modernised around 1500 and again in the 17th and 18th century. The "Via Sacra" of Voitsberg is a sort of Calvary mount.
To learn more about the mining history of Voitsberg and surroundings, dive into the "Bergerlebniswelt Zangtal", an ambitious, but rather pathetic attempt to make the industrial heritage of the region a sightseeing attraction for tourists. In various locations you can see mining machines from different eras and learn more about the geology, history and economy of Styria.
There are several former factories in Voitsberg that were closed and now serve other purposes or none at all. Note for example the former Eisenwerk (closed 1898), the former Glasfabrik (glass factory, closed 1983), or the former Zellulosefabrik (celluloses factory, closed 1939).
Back to: "Styria Sightseeing Guide"