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The old castle of Gmünd - Carinthia

Travel Feature

How a randomly chosen place

in Carinthia

has managed to leave a lasting impression.

Alte Burg Gmünd, Kärnten, Österreich, Lars Hauck
 

Sometimes it is the random places that leave a lasting impression, perhaps precisely because they appear so suddenly and no expectations precede them.


This is what happened to us with Gmünd in Carinthia.


Actually, we only wanted to take a short break make this one not another one  at a interstate service area.


So we got off the highway, parked our car and immediately we were caught by the charm of this beautiful little town in Carinthia.

Gmünd, Kärnten, Österreich, Lars Hauck

Already the very first steps through the small narrow streets towards the main square opened really nice perspectives.

 

A beautiful Austrian small town with only 2500 inhabitants at the confluence of Malta and Lieser.

But in the end it was the old castle that sits high above the little town that has really caught our attention.


Sitting there since about the 1350s, it attracted us like a magnet and let us climb the mountain in search of spit and potion and a view from above on and over this beautiful country town.

Alte Burg Gmünd, Kärnten, Österreich, Lars Hauck

 

 

 

 

The castle has undergone much in its almost 700-year history. It protected the population, was a military base, experienced a fire attack, a plague of locusts and a peasant revolt.


As a result of a dispute with the Emperor, the Archbishop of Salzburg left the castle to the Hungarians in 1480.
With the help of imperial troops and heavy artillery, the Hungarians were forced to leave after seven years.
The castle was partially destroyed.

In 1502 it was rebuilt and twenty years later it withstood a siege by rebellious and angry peasants.

In 1690 a violent earthquake caused a corner of the castle to collapse.

Almost 200 years later, in 1886, a large fire then destroyed the entire castle and it began to decay. It ekes out an existence as a ruin and its fate seems sealed.

 

Alte Burg Gmünd, Kärnten, Österreich, Lars Hauck

In 1950 the city of Gmünd finally bought the whole site and the ruins.

In the further course a citizens' initiative is formed which is committed to at least stopping the further decay of the castle.

Some of what was buried is uncovered and the first renovations begin.

At the beginning of the 90s a young couple has a vision.

Very courageous and willing to take risks, they plunge into the adventure of their lives.

They lease the castle ruins to open a restaurant.

But before that, a lot of work has to be done.

Together with the citizens' initiative, they then manage to renovate and restore the entire castle in just two years with a huge commitment on their own initiative, with a lot of sweat, muscle fat, heart blood and the one or other queasy feeling.

 

A creative spirit is set free and the castle becomes a meeting place for artists and a venue for readings, theatre and concerts.
 

Alte Burg Gmünd, Kärnten, Österreich, Lars Hauck

Today the Old Castle is a historic place, a culinary place a cultural place and above all a very charming place.

We liked the slightly morbid charm and at the same time the aura of loving design that keeps the whole castle alive without negating its history.

This beautiful ensemble has not simply become a museum, but lives on and remains authentic to this day.

About 25 years ago, together with Josef Strasser, today's lord of the castle, some like-minded people were found here and founded a cultural initiative.

A creative spirit is set free and the castle becomes a meeting place for artists and a venue for readings, theatre and concerts.

Much of what makes up the cultural scene of Gmünd's cultural enterprise today originated here before it gradually conquered new places in the city's renovated old houses.

Alte Burg Gmünd, Kärnten, Österreich, Lars Hauck

New in historical garb
 

That door fooled us.


We were firmly convinced that it was many centuries old.

In fact, it came from the hands of the local blacksmith Adolf Leitner, who is still alive today.

He is a great admirer of the Middle Ages and has forged not only swords and armour but also a working cannon.

However, it is said that he was banned from firing in Gmünd and the surrounding area by the mayor because the windows of the community did not have the necessary "firmness".

We found them in the inner courtyard of the castle, not far from the lookout tower with the cash register of trust.
The climb up there is definitely worth it, because from there you have a wonderful all-round view of the city and the countryside.

Alte Burg Gmünd, Kärnten, Österreich, Lars Hauck

The charming place

Today the castle is also a treasure trove for this and that from all times.

Much has accumulated or found its way here and now contributes in its own way to the loving charm, to the feeling here.

Here the tenant couple cultivates their very personal style and has given many a relic from other places and times a new home and a new function without ever drifting into the kitschy.

This old cable car cabin of the Traunstein Werkstätten from 1968 has since been converted into a

DJ cabin and blends into the scenery as if it had never known another place or even served for something else.

Alte Burg Gmünd, Kärnten, Österreich, Lars Hauck

The cultural place

Sometimes art is one thing and how to encounter it is another.

These wooden sculptures by Klaus Mölzer, which we casually and accidentally spotted through the iron bars of a castle crate, were part of an installation about refugees.

In the meantime, they have been detoured a little deeper into the "castle prison" and have thus become part of an unplanned installation, but no less meaningful.

There they can be visited by prior arrangement with the lord of the castle.

Alte Burg Gmünd, Kärnten, Österreich, Lars Hauck

The culinary place

And finally we end up where we actually wanted to go.

At the table, eating.

There are Spätzle in all imaginable variations and they are delicious and well known all over the country.

The chef's name is Ula, she comes from Swabia and she knows what she's doing.

We feel comfortable and enjoy the view from the window down to Gmünd.

There is certainly a lot more to discover down there, but the motorway bridge in the background reminds us that we actually only wanted to make a tiny stopover on our way to the south and so the visit of the rest of the village has to wait a little longer until we pass here the next time.

Hey,

 

I am glad you drop by!

I am Lars, constantly plagued by wanderlust and I do have a preference

for spontaneous individual trips, outdoor adventures and road trips.

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