The medieval town of Friesach

The Hauptplatz of Friesach

The Hauptplatz of Friesach ©pixel0908/Flick

The romantic settlement of Friesach is famous for its medieval heritage which consists besides of a series of walls and fortifications mostly in an event that is annually commemorated by a festival of medieval culture called “Spectaculum”. This event was a great tournament organized here by the Duke of Babenberg, Leopold VI of Austria in 1224. Every self-respecting knight across Central Europe came to Friesach for this occasion, gathering around six hundren brave men.

It must have been a really imposing event, at least impressive enaught to inspire the knight and poet Ulrich von Lichtenstein to write a series of epic poems about the tournament.

These poems are considered to be among the most important examples of medieval literature from Austria.

The Petersberg Castle in Friesach

The Petersberg Castle in Friesach ©pixel0908/Flick

Friesach turns to a medieval town for a day

Every year on August 30 the inhabitants of the city and random players who just happens to like swords gather in Friesach to act like a knights dressing up in traditional costumes. The whole city turns into a medieval fair with shops everywhere while knights and princesses are walking on cobblestone streets.

During the festival any evidence of modern times disappears from this place for a day, even the electricity is completely abandoned and replaced by candles and lit torches, hanging lanterns, flames sparking in stoves or fireplaces and campfires in open spaces. The only currency accepted during the event, is the specially beaten Friesacher Pfenning or Frizatik, which was the circulating currency widely used within the Austrian and Hungarian across the south-eastern area of the Alps in the 12th-13th centuries.

The Hauptplatz of Friesach

The Hauptplatz of Friesach ©pixel0908/Flick

Friesach earlier in history

But the history of the city of Friesach began much earlier. Like much of Carinthia and Styria, the region that now occupies the city was first conquered by the Celts and Romans and later by Slavic tribes. Friesach was part of the Slavonian Kingdom of Carantania which later came under the control of the Bavarians.

There also was a Bavarian, the German King Ludwig, who offered the city of Hof-Friesach to Adelwin, a Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg in the ninth century (860 AD). Under the control of Prince-Archbishop Eberhard II of Regensberg (1200-1246) Friesach received town privileges, then were built palaces and fortifications and it has evolved into one of the most prosperous commercial centers of Carinthia as it was on an important trade route between Vienna and Venice. This is how Friesach became the city that we see today.

The old Town Hall in Friesach

The old Town Hall in Friesach ©quickpete/Flick


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