The Celtic-Roman settlement on Mount Magdalensberg
Dr. Birgit Stegbauer
To the northeast of the Klagenfurt basin lies mount Magdalensberg, a 1.059 m high elevation of volcanic rock. It is well known as the starting point of the annual Four Mountain Run. The late gothic church on its top is a relic of medieval pilgrimage practices. Since then the name Magdalensberg has been primarily linked to a Celtic-Roman settlement, which is now an outpost of the Kärntner Landesmuseum and open to visitors in the summer months. It is one of the biggest Roman excavation sites in the Eastern Alps.
Even before the turn of the era, Celtic tribes, the Noriker, settled in large areas of today's Austria. Gold and iron mined by the Noriker were highly esteemed by the Romans, and trade exchanges led to a growing reception of Roman culture by the Noriker. Finally, in 15 BC the Romans occupied Norikum. They established their military government in a highly protected Celtic settlement at almost 1,000 meters altitude on mount Magdalensberg.
Following that, further construction activities started: The Romans built a praetorium with a basilica for jurisdictional affairs, also a temple district and a forum with a spa, plus many more buildings, both administrative and residential. All iron and gold from mines in the Alps which were melted and processed in the settlement at mount Magdalensberg, were now under the monopoly of the Roman emperor or, in other words, under the control of the Roman occupying power, who therefore designed a special district for craftsmen and merchants. The settlement was also protected with a double gate and provided with a road of tombs.
However, the Romans and the Noriker abandoned this hilltop settlement after Norikum was given the status of a province of the Roman Empire in 45 AC and the new capital Virunum founded in the foothills of mount Magdalensberg. Over the years, the settlement was forgotten. In 1502, when working in the fields, a farmer found a Roman bronze statue named the "Young man of Magdalensberg". Systematic excavations began in the middle of the 19th century and especially after 1948. Since then, an area of 3 hectares has been uncovered and transformed into an open-air museum. At 22 stations the visitors are given a realistic picture of this Celtic-Roman urban settlement and the life inside its city boundaries.
Archäologischer Park Magdalensberg
Phone: 04224 - 2255
For prices and opening hours please click here (in German only)
Kärnten Card: Free Entrance