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The oldest settlement in Carinthia, romantic Friesach is great for wandering. You'll immediately find the Hauptplatz (main square), with its old town hall and gleaming, multicolor pastel facades, and as you stroll you'll discover aspects of the medieval-era town: beautiful stone houses, the double wall and the towers, gates, and water-filled moat. Among the medieval tournaments of gallantry that took place here, 600 knights participated in a famous one of May 1224; the Styrian minnesinger Ulrich von Liechtenstein, who appeared dressed and equipped all in green, alone broke 53 of his adversaries' lances.
The 12th-century Romanesque Stadtpfarrkirche (parish church) on Wiener Strasse has some excellent stained glass in the choir. The 13th-century church in the Dominican monastery north of the moat was the first of its order in Austria. If you believe that Tannhäuser was a creation of Wagner's imagination, you will be surprised to learn that descendants of his family were Salzburg administrators in Friesach; a Tannhäuser Chapel was erected in 1509 in this church, with a red-marble tomb of Deputy Dean Balthasar Tannhäuser added after his death in 1516. From a footpath at the upper end of the main square, take a steep 20-minute climb up to the impressive remains of Schloss Petersberg to see 12th- and 13th-century frescoes and a museum housed on several floors of the tower, with examples of late-Gothic metalworking and hunting rifles. There is also a well-preserved Kammerklavier. Friesach has many more medieval marvels: be sure to stop in at the tourist office for information on all of them.
Elsewhere in Carinthia
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