Coming from my day yesterday, which included a photo safari in my hometown, extreme hiking and subsequent culinary feast (to counter any potential weight loss), my last day in Austria had arrived, and it too will be irresistible. My brother-in-law and my Evaldo Anelis planned to travel to one of these medieval treasures of Styria: Rygersburg, majestic castle, which was first built in the 11th century in a strategically important border region of the Austrian Empire.
Styria – one of the less well-known Austrian provinces; most people are more familiar with around the capital Vienna; a region that surrounds Salzburg (country "Sound of Music") and Tyrol with its high mountains and its capital Innsbruck. Styria, while the second largest Austrian province, which has the second largest city in the country (its capital, Graz), remains largely below the radar of most tourists in North America.
As for me, this is one of the most beautiful places, and I do not say that just because I'm from there. In fact, one of the obvious goals of my trip to Austria, this year has been to view the area in which I grew up through the eyes of writer-traveler, and to put it in context with some other areas that I have had the chance to visit in the past few years.
Styria consists of eight major travel regions:
– Dachstein – Tauern characterized by high mountains, perfect skiing and other diversions outdoors
– colorful lake area of the Salzkammergut – Asserland
– Murtala recreation area, densely green belt that offers many active outdoor activities
– Upper Styria, another mountainous region, which presents "Water Path Styria", "iron path Styria", as well as the mountainous region Hochschwab
– Graz, capital of the province, on the & # 39; UNESCO World Heritage Site and the European Capital of Culture 2003
– Eastern Styria, my native region, a charming area characterized by mountains of medium size, the largest mountain pastures of Austria, gardens, fertile farmland, monasteries and castles
– Termenland Styria, a region rich hills, vineyards and ancient volcanic activity that created six resorts world-caliber, and
– The wine region of Southern Styria and western Styria, where gentle hillside full of vineyards, and the famous White Horse, intended for the Vienna Riding School, are invited to the area, which is often called the "Austrian Tuscany".
Today's destination Rygersburg located directly at the southern border of the tourist region of Eastern Styria, close to the volcanic region of the field Termenland. In fact, the fortress itself was built on an ancient volcanic cone long-extinct volcano. We started with Wise travel through the valley of the Raab and rural town Gleysdorf. There, we & # 39; went to the main road on smaller country roads that took us through the beautiful hills, among which there are many orchards and vineyards.
Many of the small side roads – is the official bike paths that are easy to sign, and many local winegrowers have small rural restaurant called "Buschenschenken", whose garden terraces invite hikers, cyclists and other travelers to sit and admire shtyryyanskimi culinary delicacies and wine. We almost collided with the movement, and in this beautiful warm summer day many cyclists were there well, exercising and enjoying the scenery.
After about 45 minutes we reached our destination: in front of us was a basaltic rock, crowned by the majestic fortress Rygersburg. We parked the car in the village at the foot of the cliff and stood under the & # 39; the volume of the lock. The narrow road has no pavement and is essentially composed of dark volcanic rock, which has a lot of narrow ditches and ruts of hundreds of years of using horse-drawn carriages. We went through the first gate, which was one of many. Just Rygersburgu have seven main gates and eleven bastions. Defensive wall around the fortress is impressive three kilometers. The combination of these features has made the most important fortress on the border of Styria strengthening of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
The strategic importance of this border region becomes apparent in the context of the Ottoman wars of the 16th and 17th century between the Habsburg monarchy and the Ottoman Empire. In particular, the region of Eastern Styria, often under the threat of the invading forces from the East. In 1664 in nearby Mogersdorf took decisive final battle, which ended a two-year war against the Turks. Sam Rygersburg not been conquered, and as a result he was named "the most strongly fortified of Christianity." He was part of a series of border fortresses along the border of the Habsburg Empire.
We walked slowly to the castle on the beaten track, surrounded by the twisted wall, which would allow archers to aim at potential invaders, who were approaching the fortress. On the open plateau at the actual castle building a wall mounted numerous boards, representing a memorial to hundreds of men from the surrounding villages who were killed during the Second World War. Each village had its own board. Another colorful gates led us to the last part of the path that would lead us to the fortress. At the foot of the fortress is "Burtavern", a restaurant with a nice large outdoor patio with a magnificent view of the surrounding countryside and offended the traditional Austrian cuisine.
As we approached the fortress itself, we crossed two roar, which were equipped with a & # 39; omnym bridge, and the second inner moat is actually still had water in it. Now we really were inside the building complex of the fortress and through the large patio we come to the central building, which houses the trading shop where we purchased 9.5 euros entrance to the central part of the fortress.
Name Riegersburg fortress was originally mentioned in 1138 as the "Ruotkerspurch", which actually means "Ryudygera lock", so the fortress originally belonged to this arystakratse under that name. At the end of capital reconstruction was carried out of the 16th century, to include monuments of the late Renaissance. Large ceremonial room and arcade in the courtyard date from this era.
In Rygersburgu are two permanent exhibitions: "Witch Museum" in the basement of the focus on compulsion and persecution of witches, which covered Central Europe approximately from 1450 to 1750 About 300 alleged witches and sorcerers were persecuted in trials. the Styrian and many of them were shot. Peak Var & # 39; hunting yatstva witch fell on the 30-year war from 1618 to 1648, when the war and the so-called "little ice age" destroyed agriculture and the discharge of the population, most of which, of course, was to blame on the evil alleged witches .
We had planned to see another show: "The legendary Rygersburg – Legendary Women". Two very colorful female characters associated with the history of the fortress. The first was the Baroness Elisabeth Katharina von Haller (1607 of 1672), which was the lady of the castle from 1648 to 1672. In times of very traditional male-female roles expectation "Galleryn" had a very unconventional character and excluded from the normal rules. Women, even aristocratic women at the time were not allowed to own property, and Elizabeth, as the sole heir to the fortress, would have to abandon any property of her husband, but she refused to perform it. Even in the marriage agreement she ensured the right to decide on their own property.
Baroness Elisabeth von Galler initiated a complete reconstruction of the fortress, which included a stunning baroque White Hall, as well as the construction of the numerous bastions, gates and large walls that surround the castle. Several inscriptions on the various gates show that she spent a lot of money on the construction work. Her husband was a great debt, and in 1649 it paid him a large sum of money and lost it. In general, Baroness von Galler was married three times and has participated in a number of legal battles with their spouses and the local clergy.
Another interesting woman, presented at the exhibition "Legendary Women" – Katarina Paldauf, who was an employee of the Baroness von Haller, who started working on 20 years of age. From 1673 to 1675 she went to court over the Witch Feldbaha and accused of manipulating out & # 39; and it participated in witch Saturdays. Legends also say that it is skillfully to grow roses in the winter, a talent that earned her the nickname: ". Flower witch" "Thanks to their supernatural abilities to grow flowers in the offseason, she was accused of witch and presumably was executed in 1675.
Various exposition also shed light on the historical background of the 16th and 17th centuries. Sluzhatstva and feudalism characterized the power structure of the Middle Ages, and the peasants were very complicated life, while aristocrats formed a hereditary elite that had the right to occupy the land and carry out far-reaching powers over ordinary people. Basically agrarian economy while obliges farmers to transfer a significant proportion of its products to local rulers and nobleman, who, in turn, promised them protection in times of war. It was the era of the general operation and gentlemen had the right to use the peasant land at their own discretion. Often the farmer demanded permission lord, when he was going to marry, and heavy taxes were introduced in the peasant class. These stringent conditions actually led to numerous peasant revolts throughout Central Europe in the 16th century.
Shlyahettsy on the other hand were a way of life. The inscription at the entrance to the fortress indicates that excessive feast of 1600-ies. Was the cause of food and drink for 21 days. Smartly decorated with the Knights' Hall was the site of many of these fights, and the wooden bridge that connects it to another room, used to free myself after all this care and is usually called the "vomit bridge". Even today, the human figure, bent under the bridge, reminds people of their original purpose.
We were delighted by the lush details in the former living quarters Rygersburga, in particular, in the Hall of Knights finished ceiling and superbly decorated with baroque White Hall. When we were on the premises, in the White Hall were still decorating the wedding tables and balances, which occurred a few days earlier in the fortress. Today the castle belongs to the family & # 39; and Liechtenstein aristocratic family & # 39; and who lives in the castle since 1972. One of the family members & # 39; and recently married. Beautiful decorations for flowers and wedding menus gave us an idea of how were to look like some of these historic feasts.
We enjoyed our lesson first hand and were ready to continue studying, so we went down the long road to the city of basalt Rygersburg that spreads at the foot of the fortress. Baroque church and several restaurants attached colorful main square of the village and on the outskirts of the village – a large pond, which has a resort with beach volleyball, bitter, tennis and eateries.
Then we continued our journey to the big country to the next destination: Kapfenshteyn Castle, about 20 minutes from Rygersburga, it is also located on an extinct volcano near the Hungarian and Slovenian borders. Its recorded history dates back to the year 1065 and was one of the fortresses that defended Austria from the raids of the Hungarians and Turks. The castle belonged to the gentry seven different & # 39; and until it came into the possession of the family & # 39; and Winkler-Germaden in 1898.
Today, the castle is located a 15-room hotel is a hotel and a restaurant with large outdoor courtyard, providing a stunning view of the surrounding area. We chose the perfect place on the terrace and began to study the menu. Wedding, obviously just happened in the castle hotel, as the bride and groom are still transported gifts for their cars. We decided to try the local delicacies, and I liked my mushroom soup with roasted buckwheat and cheese plate with a wide range of Austrian specialty cheeses.
Our late lunch was stretched to the south, and it is time to continue our journey. But before moving on, we spent a short walk through the woods and vineyards in a small chapel on the plateau near the castle Kapfenshteynam. Hence, we had a beautiful view of the north, and through a magnifying viewer we could see our previous destination, volcanic cone Rygersburga.
It's time to go back, so we started to drive back to Vaice. We agree with our friends Luis and Isabella, to join them on a small plot in my last night in Austria. Both of my friends are avid riders and Luis allowed me to jump on one of their two-wheeled vehicles and accompanied me on a little test drive. The first time I rode a bike on the island of Ibiza and only was delighted to once again go for it. After some initial problems with balancing after getting used to regulate the gas handle, we finally started to adequately begin our little adventure and the enthusiastic delight of local country roads.
Twenty minutes later, we came back and sat in their beautiful garden, admiring the large pond, which they have created. We're all a little reminiscing about the time in 2005, when my brother, my son in law, and these two members came to visit Toronto. It was the first time I saw his friends again, this time on their home. We even thought that one of these years, we have to hold a joint vacation on skis in Schladming on the Upper Styria, a phenomenal ski area, which is often a & # 39 is a cross-country skiing World Cup and the place where my friends regularly go skiing.
The sun was setting, and it's time to return to the place of his brother, and start to pack your suitcase. I said goodbye to his friends and invited them to come to the next visit to Toronto. I Evaldo, Anelis spent a few pleasant hours in their house, when I was preparing for my opinion on the & # 39; Congress, feeling very sad because of the rapid end of his trip.
Without a doubt, this is my best visit since I left my hometown 21 years ago. Nine days just was not long enough to even explore the sights of my neighbor's area. In addition to the excellent links with the family & # 39; It and a few good friends, I spent the last few days found that Styria, the region where I was born, there was, of course, along with many other tourist areas that I have visited throughout North America and Europe. .
Beautiful scenery of Styria, opportunities for outdoor recreation, architecture, history, music, culture and, last but not least, delicious cuisine will definitely make me come back again.