Above the compact Piran town centre reigns St. George's Cathedral, which gives the city its special character. It was probably built in the 12th century, but no exact data in this regard exists.
In the 14th century, it was built to its present size. In the year 1344, on the Day of St. George, the cathedral was consecrated by nine bishops from near and far. It acquired its present appearance after Baroque renovation in the year 1637. The Bell Tower was completed in 1608, and the Baptistery in the year 1650. During these years, reinforcements were made to the hill on which the cathedral rests.
The supporting walls were built in the year 1641, and on the sea side, the hill was fortified with stone arches. The construction of the stone arches began in the year 1663 and lasted until 1804. They were seriously dilapidated due to the effects of erosion, and thus had to be reconstructed and restored in 1998.
In the year 1737, St George's Cathedral acquired seven marble altars. Of the preserved works of art, the two sculptures of St. George are particularly worth seeing. The larger one is from the 17th century and is the work of an unknown sculptor. The smaller one is silver-plated and was made by a Piran-based goldsmith's workshop. The wall paintings are the work of the Venetian school. The two big paintings (Mass in Bolsena and St. George's Miracle) date from the beginning of the 17th century and were painted by Angelo de Coster.References:
Hochosterwitz Castle is considered to be one of Austria's most impressive medieval castles. The rock castle is one of the state's landmarks and a major tourist attraction.
The site was first mentioned in an 860 deed issued by King Louis the German of East Francia, donating several of his properties in the former Principality of Carantania to the Archdiocese of Salzburg. In the 11th century Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg ceded the castle to the Dukes of Carinthia from the noble House of Sponheim in return for their support during the Investiture Controversy. The Sponheim dukes bestowed the fiefdom upon the family of Osterwitz, who held the hereditary office of the cup-bearer in 1209.
In the 15th century, the last Carinthian cup-bearer, Georg of Osterwitz was captured in a Turkish invasion and died in 1476 in prison without leaving descendants. So after four centuries, on 30 May 1478, the possession of the castle reverted to Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg.
Over the next 30 years, the castle was badly damaged by numerous Turkish campaigns. On 5 October 1509, Emperor Maximilian I handed the castle as a pledge to Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, then Bishop of Gurk. Bishop Lang undertook a substantial renovation project for the damaged castle.
About 1541, German king Ferdinand I of Habsburg bestowed Hochosterwitz upon the Carinthian governor Christof Khevenhüller. In 1571, Baron George Khevenhüller acquired the citadel by purchase. He fortified to deal with the threat of Turkish invasions of the region, building an armory and 14 gates between 1570 and 1586. Such massive fortification is considered unique in citadel construction.
Since the 16th century, no major changes have been made to Hochosterwitz. It has also remained in the possession of the Khevenhüller family as requested by the original builder, George Khevenhüller. A marble plaque dating from 1576 in the castle yard documents this request.
A specific feature is the access way to the castle passing through a total of 14 gates, which are particularly prominent owing to the castle's situation in the landscape. Tourists are allowed to walk the 620-metre long pathway through the gates up to the castle; each gate has a diagram of the defense mechanism used to seal that particular gate. The castle rooms hold a collection of prehistoric artifacts, paintings, weapons, and armor, including one set of armor 2.4 metres tall, once worn by Burghauptmann Schenk.