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 Church of St Donatus name refers to Donatus of Zadar, who began construction on this church in the 9th century and ended it on the northeastern part of the Roman forum. It is the largest Pre-Romanesque building in Croatia.
The beginning of the building of the church was placed to the second half of the 8th century, and it is supposed to have been completed in the 9th century. The Zadar bishop and diplomat Donat (8th and 9th centuries) is credited with the building of the church. He led the representations of the Dalmatian cities to Constantinople and Charles the Great, which is why this church bears slight resemblance to Charlemagne"s court chapels, especially the one in Aachen, and also to the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna. It belongs to the Pre-Romanesque architectural period.
The circular church, formerly domed, is 27 m high and is characterised by simplicity and technical primitivism.