Wolfsberg in Carinthia

Wolfsberg is a town in Carinthia with a population of approximately 25,000 people. Wolfsberg is situated in the middle of the Lavanttal valley and a county town (Bezirkshauptstadt), which makes it the logical centre for the Lavanttal area in Southern Carinthia. Like other areas of Carinthia, Wolfsberg belonged to the Archibishop of Bamberg since the early 11th century (see also my articles on Kirchdorf an der Krems and Feldkirchen).

It was the Bishop of Bamberg who should be thanked for the main attraction of Wolfsberg: The Schloss Wolfsberg, a palace that was originally built as a castle at some point before 1178. When there was a (quite literally) burning threat of an invasion through the Turkish Empire in the 16th century, the castle was extended into a fortress. In 1759, Empress Maria Theresia purchased the fortress. The end of Schloss Wolfberg′s story is sad: It was bought by Hugo Henckel von Donnersmarck in 1846 - and completely re-modelled in neo-Tudor style. Thus, there is nothing of the original Renaissance (not to mention Medieval) building left to see.

Another attraction of Wolfsberg is the parish church, the Stadtpfarrkirche St. Markus, a Romanesque church that later got a Baroque up (or down) grade. A few words on the history of Wolfsberg: Settlements can be demonstrated since the Bronze Age, later there was a Roman community living in the area of modern Wolfsberg. In the early 11th century, the area became property of the Bishop of Bamberg (see above).

History of Wolfsberg, Carinthia

It was the bishop who had the first castle built in Wolfsberg; the community grew around it and as early as 1178, the town was referred to as "Wolfsperch" in a document. In 1331, Wolfsberg was made a city; in 1338, the city′s Jews were expelled, a nice Carinthian custom still in practice in some very remote areas of the province (eg. Carinthia). In 1449, Wolfsberg became home to a court, which ended the competition and hostilities towards the nearby noblemen of Burg Hartneidstein.

In the early 16th century, Wolfsberg became one of the hotbeds for the reformation in the Habsburg lands. One of the first printing workshops was built here, to produce informational leaflets and print Martin Luther′s German bible. In Schloss Bayerhofen, a local palace, a chapel was built that became the meeting place for local protestant families. Only in the 17th century, the counter-reformation kicked in and replaced turmoil with the old order. Speaking of orders: In 1634, the Capuchins opened a monastery in Wolfsberg. Just before that, the chapel at Schloss Bayerhofen was demolished.

In 1716, Wolfsberg was severely damaged by a great fire. In 1759, the Bishop of Bamberg sold all his Carinthian possessions to the Habsburgs. In the late 19th century, tourism in the modern sense of the word kicks in: Railway links are built and roads are improved, the area develops well in terms of prosperity. In 1934, Austrian Nazis attempted a coupe against the conservative-fascistic government. Wolfsberg was a bastion for them and resisted the regular army of Austria for quite some time. During WWII, Wolfsberg had a camp for 7,000 prisoners of war; this camp was later used by the allies to imprison former Nazi officials and collaborators. It was passed over to the Austrian government only in 1948.

Back to: "Carinthia Sightseeing Guide"

Sightseeing by Austrian Province

Bregenz and Vorarlberg - Innsbruck and Tyrol - Salzburg - Salzkammergut - Graz and Styria - Klagenfurt and Carinthia - Wachau and Lower Austria - Vienna - Burgenland

Further Reading

Official Website of Wolfsberg

Official Website of the Lavanttal Valley

Official Website of Carinthia