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:
German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.
In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578).
In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Wenden Voivodship was created here. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but was destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. Already from the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adjusted to the requirements of the Cēsis Castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis Castle estate was obtained by Count Carl Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the eastern block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower.
Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in this New Castle of the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia, Cēsu alus darītava, which was built in 1878 during the later Count Sievers' time, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order. Further on, the Cēsis Castle park is situated, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its winding footpaths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins. Nowadays also one of the towers is open for tourists.