The city of Villach in southern Austria, cradled by the Drau river, borders the country from Italy and Slovenia. Therefore, it was only just and right to give the city a go on our way to Ljubljana, and back to Venice a few days later. Although Villach might seem just a cozy little Austrian village, it is actually the 7th largest city in Austria and also the 7th most populous (ca 60,000 inhabitants). Known as the gateway to the Villach Alps and Lake Faak and Ossiach, popular destinations all year round, the city center indeed managed to charm us with history, colors, and yummy bubble waffles and the popular Austrian pastry – apple strudel!
07:00 AM Breakfast at Hotel Mosser
First thing first – breakfast! We really liked the ambiance at Hotel Mosser, a family owned hotel that has been operating for over 250 years! It was nicely situated near the train station and St. Nicholas Church.
08:00 AM St. Nicholas Church (St. Nikolai Kirche) + a model of the city in 1649 + the Harlequin statue + the Town Bridge
Right across the hotel lies St. Nicholas Church. The neo-Gothic Roman Catholic Church was originally built in the 1300s, has undergone many changes and been transfered to different religious sects, destroyed in 1892, and rebuilt to its modern state in 1896. Since 1906, it has served as the town parish. We wanted to see the interior of the church, but it was closed all throughout the duration of our visit.
Also in Nikolaiplatz was a model of the city in 1649. It was amazing how the city kept its medieval ambiance, despite the many changes including earthquakes and other natural hazards.
And before crossing the city bridge, we visited the popular bronze Harlequin or Jester statue. It was built in honor of the Villacher Fasching (Carnival), which was first held in 1867. “Lei! Lei” is the famous cry of the Villach Carnival Guild, with the event happening in February. It would have been cool if it was in summer.
And it was time to cross the almost 60 year old Town Bridge, decorated with advertisement and European flags. It jumps beautifully across the 710 km- Drau (Drava) River.
Mesmerizing, isn’t it?? ❤
08:30 AM Widmanngasse (alley) + Memorial of Names + City Museum + Rose Garden + Ancient city wall
We continued our morning walk along Draulande street, passing by the Catholic Burgkapelle St. Heinrich und St. Kunigunde and some old and narrow streets, and along Widmanngasse (Widmann alley). It was lined with shops, schools, salon, galleries, among others. An interesting structure was the Memorial of Names, installed in 1999, a monument remembering the “names of people of Villach, men women and children, who were murdered under National Socialist terror”. Across it was the City Museum, which was unfortunately closed during our visit.
Just a few steps away from the City Museum is a cozy little rose garden (Rosengarten Villach), with different species of roses. It was open to the public, with benches people could sit on.
Entering a narrow passageway by the City Museum, we ended up at the Alte Stadtmauer Villach, or the Old City Wall. According to sources, it is the only remaining part of the old city wall dating back to the 1200s.
08:45 AM Parish Church of St. Jacob + City Hall + 10.Oktober street + Protestant Church
A quarter before 9 am, we were greeted by loud church bells. Another Catholic church stands proud in the city centre – the Parish Church of St. Jacob, with a late-Gothic architectural style. First documented in the 1100s, the church underwent many changes and natural hazards before it became the catholic church it is today. Beside the church is a bronze monument of an Eagle. I tried to look for some information about it, its significance and such, but to no avail.
Just across the parish church is the Rathaus or City Hall, with its three-sided enclosed courtyard partially covered with a see-through canopy. Afterwards, we followed the 10.Oktober street. On October 10, 1920, the Carinthian plebescite was signed (Carinthia is the Austrian province where Villach is located ;)). It determined the border between Austria and the former Yugoslavia. At the end of the street is a beautiful Protestant Church in neo-Gothic style.
09:00 AM Schiller Park
Schiller Park was a refreshing spot for us, under shady trees, and it has a playground! So, we spent a few minutes there, before heading to Hauptplatz, the main plaza of the city. Located in the park, we planned to see Relief Von Kärnten, a huge replica of Villach, covering 182 sq metres and depicting the province at a scale of 1:10,000! But it opens at 11AM, so we were basically 2 hours early and couldn not wait that long due to our train schedule. So, perhaps, next time!
09:20 AM Hauptplatz
Disregarding the detour we made earlier on this city tour, Hauptplatz is what would welcome visitors upon crossing the Town Bridge. This pedestrian-only plaza is lined with colorful houses and shops, cafes and restaurants and street kiosks. It leads straight to St. Jacob Church and the City Hall.
11:00 AM Bubble waffle @ Secret Garden Cafe/Bistro + Apple strudel @ Bernold Cafe Conditorei
Trying to breathe in all the charms and serenity of the city Villach on a Sunday morning, we stopped by at a very nicely situated cafe on Draulande street – the Secret Garden. I have a sweet tooth, so the photo with the bubble waffle really caught my attention. We just sat there and enjoyed the views of the City Bridge and the Drava River. Romantic..
And of course, one should never ever leave Villach, or Austria, without having a slice of their famous apple strudel! For this, we went to Bernold, a cafe conditory that has been operating since 1955. It was also recommended by our hotel staff, so we particularly chose it. We enjoyed the apple strudel, I particularly. It’s something one would crave for from time to time, and it has to be made in Austria, just like gelato is to Italy.
At 12:53 PM, we left Villach and boarded the train to Ljubljana. With us were beautiful memories of a short time spent in the lovely Austrian city. This is all for now! The adventure continues.. #spreadlove