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The Klagenfurt Landhaus

Birgit Stegbauer

 

Since it was built (from 1574 to 1591), the Klagenfurt Landhaus has been the representative symbol of Carinthia's federal independence. On non-constituency days visitors to this magnificent Renaissance building can see not only the large baroque Coats of Arms Hall but also the assembly room of Carinthia's state parliament.

It is generally acknowledged that Klagenfurt's Landhaus, along with Porcia Castle in Spittal/Drau, is one of Carinthian's most important secular Renaissance buildings. Typologically, the Klagenfurt Landhaus is one of a series of Landhaus buildings erected or enhanced around the same time throughout the Habsburg Empire. Comparisons can be made with the Graz Landhaus in particular, for two reasons: the very similar time of each building's construction and the same master builder - Johann Anton Verda (1550-1600). Although work at the Klagenfurt Landhaus started in 1574 under the Carinthian master builder Hans Freymann, it was Verda who, lured away from his work on the Graz Landhaus to Klagenfurt's Landhaus in 1581, finished the construction in 1594.


Klagenfurt's multifunctional construction consists of a U-shaped building with two twin towers, with a courtyard on the city centre side. From the base of each of the two towers, two open staircases lead to the arcade walkway of the main building which houses the great assembly hall. Here an assembly of the estates (Landstände) of Carinthia was held every three years. Representatives of the high clergy, the land- and property-owning aristocracy and the cities and market towns - came together to discuss and decide taxation, budget and military issues in the federal state of Carinthia. The wings of the Klagenfurt Landhaus housed the offices of the 'Burggraf' - the town governor and military official with judicial powers. There were also rooms for the administration of finances and military affairs. Today Klagenfurt Landhaus is still the political and administrative centre of the federal state of Carinthia.


Visitors to the Klagenfurt Landhaus will enter the large baroque Coats of Arms Hall, adorned from 1740 onwards with 665 historical coats of arms of the Carinthian estates executed by Carinthia's Baroque painter Josef Ferdinand Fromiller (1693-1760). He also illustrated the walls and the ceiling of this room with frescos of events from local and national history. Moreover, the Great Hall displays the so-called "Prince's Stone", an antique Roman headpiece of a column that played an important ceremonial role in the investiture of the Duke of Carinthia in the Early Modern Times (post-Renaissance).


From the Great Hall the visitor proceeds to the assembly room of the Carinthian local government. The wall behind the seats of the steering committee is decorated with a modern work of art in the geographical shape of Carinthia: the "Kärntenwand" by Karl Brandstätter. Above it is the so-called "Abstimmungsfresko" (Fresco of the Carinthian people's referendum) by Swibert Lobisser. It dates from 1928 and heroically depicts events on the subject of the defence of Carinthia from 1918 to 1920 and its people's referendum. Lobisser was a passionate supporter of National Socialism. Following the Nazi annexation of Austria of 1938, he was commissioned to immediately add certain scenes to his fresco that link events of the Carinthian defence chronologically and ideologically to Nazi control. These 1938 additions were painted over after the war on the orders of the Allies. The heroic "Abstimmungsfresko", however, remains.


Through a small anteroom the visitor reaches the Koligraum that has got a completely different history. It was illustrated by the painter Anton Kolig in 1929-1930 with "Scenes from Carinthian Life". Kolig lived from 1886 to 1950 and was a member of an artists' group called the "Nötsch Circle". The frescos were controversial from the start and shortly after the Nazis took power they were condemned as decadent art and destroyed. Then in 1998 the artist's grandson, artist Cornelius Kolig (born in 1942) was commissioned to re-design the room. His work of art 'Tat'-'Ort'/crime scene deals with the events regarding the room and the lost frescos.


The small Coats of Arms hall with "only" 298 coats of arms - once more by the Carinthian baroque painter Fromiller - completes the public tour of the Klagenfurt parliament building.
 

Opening times and entrance fees are available here. 

There is no charge for KärntenCard holders. To learn more click here.

 

 


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