The city parish church steeple in the midst of Klagenfurt’s old town offers not only a wonderful view of the colourful goings-on in the pedestrian zone, but also a fantastic 360° panoramic view, which extends from Lake Wörthersee via the Karawanken to the Koralpe. This feast for the eyes is the prize for everyone who ventures up the 225 steps inside the steeple. And one thing is certain: the climb is worth it!
Visitors with a head for heights can step onto the viewing platform at a height of 45 metres, and gaze in awe wherever they wish in all directions. This is just what the steeple watchman once used to do – although he also used to sound a horn loudly every hour. It is not known when Klagenfurt acquired its first watchman, but it was probably in the 13th or 14th century, when the first belltower was erected on Klagenfurt’s parish church of St. Egid.
On the trail of the watchman
The legend of the watchman tells that at midnight he was only allowed to blow his horn towards the north, east and west – but never southwards. This was because to the south lay the St. Ruprecht cemetery – and it was said that the watchman’s call would awaken the dead. What still remains of the legend? The old watchmen’s living quarters, which still exist today, and where the present-day watchman, Horst Ragusch (incidentally the only full-time tower keeper in Austria), tells the end of the spine-chilling legend – a popular experience for fearless visitors of all ages who want to know whether one night the watchman really did call the grave-dwellers from their resting places.
On the site of the present-day church of St. Egid there used to be an older church building, which was first documented in 1255 and was granted parish rights in 1303. We know today that the original structure of the city parish church was endowed with two towers with spires, a higher one on the south side and a smaller one on the north side of the church. The two towers were connected by means of a roofed wooden passageway. The new church was consecrated in 1697, and the new city parish church steeple was completed in 1709, then equipped years later with the Baroque onion-shaped dome following further fire damage to the church and steeple. Today this is the second-highest church steeple in Carinthia, at 90 metres.
The Fuchs chapel
When you are visiting the city parish church, be sure not to miss this highlight! The Ernst Fuchs chapel is situated in the south chapel of the city parish church of St. Egid. During the 20 years of its construction, the artfully designed chapel was endowed with numerous details in gorgeous colours by Professor Ernst Fuchs – the most important representative of Fantastic Realism. On 30 September 2010, the completion of the Fuchs Chapel was celebrated with a festive mass by the diocesan bishop Dr. Alois Schwarz. The total work of art comprises an area of around 160 m² and depicts an apocalyptic succession of scenes by Professor Ernst Fuchs, who is now over 80. It can only be viewed during a one-hour guided tour.