Gurk Cathedral is a Romanesque pillar basilica and former cathedral built from 1140 to 1200. It is one of the most important Romanesque buildings in Austria.
With its consecration in 1174, the grave of Saint Hemma of Gurk was relocated there from former Gurk Abbey, a Benedictine nunnery she had founded in 1043 and which was dissolved by Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg in 1070/72, in order to fund the newly established Gurk diocese and the construction of the cathedral. The cathedral chapter established in 1123 moved to Klagenfurt in 1787.
However, despite various late-medieval and Baroque modifications and additions it has preserved its Romanesque character. The elongated building has a westwork with two towers, a gallery, a crypt, and three apses. The crypt, with its 100 columns, is the oldest part of the cathedral. In the middle of the rural Gurktal, the imposing 60 m tall twin steeple of the cathedral can be seen from a very great distance.
Among the rich stock of medieval frescos and Baroque altars, the most notable are the frescos of the bishop's gallery in the west wing of the church which are master works of the serration style in European fresco paintings of the 13th century.
The former convent buildings are to the north of the church; the medieval parts were refashioned in the 17th century and are arranged around the early Baroque arcaded court. The entire convent complex is surrounded by a wall built in the late 15th century following Turkish incursions on the region.
Gurk Cathedral was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative list in 1994.References:
The Schloßberg is the site of ancient fortress in the centre of the city of Graz, Austria. The hill is now a public park and enjoys extensive views of the city. The fortification of the Schloßberg goes back to at least the 10th century. In the mid-16th century, a 400 m long fortress was constructed by architects from the north of Italy. There are records of a cable-hauled lift being in use between 1528 and 1595 to move construction materials for the fortifications. The castle was never conquered, but it was largely demolished by Napoleonic forces under the Treaty of Schönbrunn of 1809. The clock tower (the Uhrturm) and bell tower (the Glockenturm) were spared after the people of Graz paid a ransom for their preservation.
The remains of the castle were turned into a public park by Ludwig von Welden in 1839. The park contains the Uhrturm, the Glockenturm, a cistern and two bastions from the old castle. The Uhrturm is a recognisable icon for the city, and is unusual in that the clock"s hands have opposite roles to the common notion, with the larger one marking hours while the smaller is for minutes. The Glockenturm contains Liesl, the heaviest bell in Graz.
Near the Uhrturm there is a café with views over the old town. Additionally, on the western side of the Schloßberg, there are two small cafés, one with table service and the other one with self-service. Next to the terminus of the funicular railway there is a hilltop restaurant with views of western Graz. In what was once the cellar of one of the ruined bastions is the Kasemattenbühne, an open-air stage for concerts and performances.
Below the Schloßberg hill is an extensive system of tunnels, which were created during the second world war to protect the civilian population of Graz from aerial bombing. Some of these tunnels are still accessible, including a passage from Schloßbergplatz to Karmeliterplatz, and a grotto railway for children. Also in the tunnel complex is the Dom im Berg, which was expanded in 2000 to provide a venue space for up to 600 people.