A fairy tale lake island: welcome to Maria Wörth
The fairy tale town of Maria Wörth is everything you watched in movies about princes and princesses and even more.
This picturesque town on the southern shore of Lake Wörth is a lovely pearl in the garland of Carinthian beauty in Austria. This small peninsula enchants you with no less than two churches and old houses all holding witness to the rich history and long tradition of this important pilgrimage site. When the main church dedicated to the Virgin Mary is lit up at night, it shines over the entire lake!
Following the Transromanica cultural route in the Danube region, we are here today to discover its secrets and an incredible story of Romanesque heritage so well preserved in this medieval town. That’s why we must wake up early today to have time to do everything!
Romanesque? What’s this? Romanesque art in Europe dates back to approximately 1000 AD to the rise of the Gothic style in the 12th century. Around that time artists from all parts of Europe, inspired by Roman and early Christian traditions, helped to establish this style – the first common architectural language of the old continent. During those difficult times, religion was in the centre of urban life and many monasteries, abbey churches and places of pilgrimage were built across Europe. These places were like books carved in stone using frescos, sculptures and engravings to speak to poor people and scholars alike. Today we are discovering one of the Romanesque masterpieces – the church complex of Maria Wörth.
To discover it, let us take a boat trip to reach the peninsula (by the way, back in a day it was an island). Whether it is spring, summer or autumn, you ought to take a boat trip across the lake with its crystal-clear turquoise water! Grab a swimsuit and enjoy a nice dip if you are there during the summertime.
Arriving at the church complex from the water, you cannot help but notice its slender north tower, and a wooden shingle hipped roof. Wait, there is a second church out there? That’s right, the complex has two churches – the Parish church of the Virgin Mary and the small Rosary, as well as the cemeteries and three churchyard portals.
Come on in – entrance is free.
As you walk up to this stunning church and graveyard you could be mistaken in thinking you are on a film set. Built in the early 9th century this beautiful quiet place invites you for a moment of serenity and peace. Besides the views from the top are stunning.
As early as the year 830, the Maria Wörth church dedicated to the Virgin Mary was built on the highest plateau of the island, founding the town around it. The crypt of that church became the burial place of the relics of the two Roman martyrs Saints Primus and Felician that were brought here from Rome. As a result, the church soon became a special place of devotion.
The church narrates its story carved in stone and wood and elegantly combines styles and epochs living together in a perfect harmony – Romanesque arched portal from the 12th century next to the late Gothic Madonna and Child statue and rich baroque carving of the pulpit.
The sister church – Rosary or Winter Church – is located a little lower, west of the parish church. It got the name “Winter Church” because the anniversaries of the saints who were worshipped in it fell in winter. Come on in to enjoy the 14th century frescos of saints, which were recently discovered during the restoration, and the glass-painted choir windows featuring a depiction of Mary and child.
If you happen to be here on the 15th of August, don’t miss the boat procession of Mary on the lake. This day – the Assumption of Mary – is one of the most important celebrations for locals.
Maria Wörth is not only famous for its magnificent churches: it also offers a bunch of natural experiences! Allow yourself a hiking adventure and climb up the Viewing Tower on Pyramidenkogel, at 851 metres above sea level. At 100 metres tall, it is the highest wooden viewing tower in the world which will allow you to enjoy the view of a beautiful lake and the churches.
After such a busy day, the next question coming to mind is naturally: “what shall we grab for dinner?” Try some authentic Carinthian regional food: traditional cheese Gailtaler Almkäse and special “smoked” bacon Gailtaler Speck for an appetiser and yummy Kasnudeln – pasta pockets with curd cheese. You can also treat yourself with brown trout freshly fished from the lake. Guten appetit!
#Transromanica #MariaWörth #VisitWörthersee #VisitAustria
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