Castle Hotels of Carinthia
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Carinthia (Kärnten) sparkles brilliantly during the late spring to early autumn season. With over 200 crystal-clear thermal lakes every bit as spectacular as those in the Salzkammergut and jagged Alpine peaks protecting the province on three sides, Carinthia has sometimes been called the “Riviera of Austria” for its warm sunny weather and gracious resorts.
Ancient castles, tucked away in valleys or perched on top of craggy hilltops, remain in partial ruin, or are put to use as concert venues, museums, and hotels.
After World War I, a plebiscite was held to determine if Carinthia would be awarded to Yugoslavia or remain in Austria. The vote went to Austria, and today’s multi-ethnic population—Austrian-German, Slovenian, and Italian—has created a distinct personality evident in the terrific cuisine throughout the region.
Some great reasons to visit
The lake resort towns of Pörtschach, Velden, and Maria Worth The Wörthersee is the province’s largest alpine lake, with water temperatures sometimes surpassing 27ºC (80ºF). A series of elegant, postcard-picturesque resort towns dot the lake’s edge. You may indulge in countless water sports, or merely stroll along flower-lined walkways, admiring sumptuous and elegant villas tucked in behind the trees. A passenger ferry operates around the lake during the summer months.
Friesach An ancient town first mentioned in the 9th century and later important as a point on the Vienna-Venice trade route, Friesach is surrounded by fortifications from which you can admire fine views of the town and valley. The town has its own filled moat and ancient walls, and a 13th-century Gothic church open to the public.
Burg Hochosterwitz Documents first mention this spectacular fortress in the 9th century. Enlarged in the 16th century by the aristocratic Carinthian family—the Khevenhüllers, the castle boasts 14 fortified gates. Disney is said to have modeled the castle in Snow White from Burg Hochosterwitz.
The cathedral of Gurk Built in the 12th century, the cathedral is one of Austria’s finest examples of Romanesque architecture.
Maria Saal First built in the 8th century, the present Gothic church with its twin towers of volcanic stone dates from the 15th century and sits on a fortified hill overlooking the Zollfeld Plain.
Burg Landskron Not far from Villach, this castle was once a stronghold of the Habsburgs and later the Khevenhüller family. Although partially in ruins, the castle is a well-known keep for trained birds of prey, which perform in shows during the May-September season.
St Veit an der Glan The seat of the dukes of Carinthia from 1170 until 1518, little has changed in this pleasing small town.
Millstatt is a beautiful little resort town nestled on the Millstäter See, another of the region’s thermal lakes.