Hike from one historical era to another: The market town of Maria Saal is built, in the truest sense of the word, on historical ground. With every step they take, visitors can discover testimonies in stone to Carinthia’s storied history.
Maria Saal – to the north of Klagenfurt, the Carinthian provincial capital – is an important pilgrimage destination for believers from across the entire Alpine-Adriatic world. Visible far and wide, it lies on a hill in the east of the Zollfeld, a ca. ten kilometers-long valley basin alongside the River Glan between Magdalensberg and Ulrichsberg.
Virtually around every corner, you are able to encounter new and fascinating pieces of history: The Archaeological Park on the Magdalensberg, which is run by the State Museum of Carinthia, introduces visitors to daily life within what was then a Roman provincial capital. To this day no one knows its name, or the reason it was abandoned in the 1st century A.D. Assuming the role as the new provincial capital, and later becoming the seat of an archbishop, was the town of Virunum. Its remains on the Zollfeld have only been partially unearthed. The restored amphitheater, in which gladiators once fought against wild animals, can be visited by appointment as part of a guided tour.
When, in 590 A.D., the Slavs began to settle Carinthia as well as parts of the modern Austrian provinces of Styria and Salzburg, the community of Karnburg – located within today’s Maria Saal – became a seat of governance (“Curtis Carantana”) for their princes. Karnburg later became the capital of the Duchy of Carinthia, while Emperor Arnulf of Carinthia established an imperial palace here. The stone Duke’s Chair on the Zollfeld – which still stands for visitors to see – once played an important role in ducal inaugurations.
Maria Saal is an imposing abbey church and pilgrimage site. Along with the house of worship in Karnburg, it is one of the earliest churches to be founded in Carinthia, its roots going back to the 8th century when the Salzburg bishopric sent bishop Modestus to minister to the Karantanien. It acquired its late-Gothic form in the early to mid-15th century, when it was rebuilt, along with the surrounding abbey buildings, into a fortress church, later providing the local populace with protection from Turkish incursions. During renovations after a devastating fire in 1669, the church acquired its current appearance. At the same time, the “Maria Saalerin”, which is Carinthia’s biggest church bell, was cast for the north tower and consecrated in 1688.
The Carinthia Outdoor Museum in Maria Saal is actually the oldest of its kind in Austria. On display here are rural homes and farms brought here from different parts of the country, providing fascinating insights into life and work of former times. In addition to historical farmhouses, on the “Industrial Grounds” visitors are also able to see exhibits associated with manual labor over the centuries, including flourmills, a saw mill, a charcoal pile and lime kiln. A country inn serves food and drinks whenever you are in the mood for refreshments. During a walking tour of the Carinthia Outdoor Museum, you will also be able to explore a nature theme path which introduces you to flora and habitats typical of those found in our province.´
Tourist Information Maria Saal
April–October: Domplatz 7
9063 Maria Saal
T +43 4223 51145 / +43 664 4543903