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Peel Tower. ©Hans Schubert

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Duke´s Castle (Herzogsburg). ©Manfred Horvath

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Parish Church. ©Hans Schubert

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Town Hall. ©Hans Schubert

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Knappenhof. ©Manfred Horvath

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Spitalskirche. ©Manfred Horvath

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Strenningerhof, Marktplatz 3. ©Walter Paminger

The Sights of Perchtoldsdorf

Ever since the Biedermeier age (early 19th century), Perchtoldsdorf has been a popular resort for summer holiday-makers, day trippers and tourists. Being some way off the main public transport routes, the market town was not exactly flooded by the waves of progress permeating the 19th century. It was precisely this sleepy calm that attracted the first guests. Despite the stormy developments of the past century, the medieval centre of the town has been preserved. The centrally located castle-cum-church boasts a late-Gothic free-standing Peel tower, the gallery of which offers a splendid view of the surrounding panorama. It is also an ideal starting point for a walk across the market square with its Baroque-era plague memorial column, a town hall from the 15th century, and fine old patrician houses from the Gothic and Renaissance periods with many a beautiful courtyard.

Six bijoux museums housed in historical museums offer an enjoyable way of discovering the town and its history. And there is also modern-age innovation to be found here. The bold re-design of Perchtoldsdorf’s council chamber by architect Hans Hollein is a stimulating case in point. Old and new, skilfully combined, create a fresh and unique atmosphere.

Historical secular and sacred buildings from the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque periods

A masterpiece of late medieval fortress design, the 60 metres-high free-standing Peel tower (1450-1521), has been the town’s main landmark for half a millennium. The lower part of this powerful squared-stone building up to the level of the vaulted area of the Chapel of St. Nicholas (Nikolauskapelle) had already been finished by around 1460. Then times became turbulent and the construction of the tower was interrupted for many decades. It was only in 1518 that construction activities were resumed and the building then completed swiftly. The date 1521, carved into the wall above the tower clock, is considered to be the year of completion, although records show that the battlement parapet was only finished after 1523. The late-Gothic structure has fine tracery windows and a steep hipped-end roof. The impressive oriels initially had conical roofs, the present-day onion-shaped roofs were added around 1700.

Visitors enter the tower from the west and first reach Nikolauskapelle with the Thomas-Ebendorfer memorial. Beneath the tower is the well room with its deep well. The upper levels are accessed through a narrow winding staircase. The tower keeper’s room was converted into a local history museum; the level above it houses the Archaeological Museum of Perchtoldsdorf. The gallery, resting on mighty stone consoles, offers a splendid panorama view of the Vienna Basin and the Vienna Woods.

Opening hours: from may until the end of september, every sunday and public holiday 13.00 - 18.00

The parish church (Pfarrkirche) was initially dedicated to the Virgin, and its origins go back to the 13th century. What the Romanesque church that was consecrated in 1270 looked like is no longer known. In 1338, the southern nave was consecrated and used as a small single-aisled chapel (Burgkapelle).

The lodge of cathedral stonemasons of Vienna’s St. Stephen’s cathedral (Wiener Dombauhütte) was involved in the Gothic redesign of the parish church which developed on the basis of the chapel. Extensions were based on a building plan inspired by the Albertinina choir of St. Stephen’s in Vienna – with a main choir projecting to the east and two lateral aisles. Under the auspices of parish priest Thomas Ebendorfer (1388-1464), the plans were changed to concur with the type of church design then favoured, and a western part with star-ribbed vaulting (nave) was added to the existing eastern part with cross-ribbed vaulting (the extension was completed in the late 15th century).

The only surviving parts of the sumptuous Gothic-era decorations are a tabernacle with luxurious wrought-iron doors and a few epitaphs – two of them are now displayed at the Peel tower. The facade of the church offers some decorations of art-history significance: the “Coronation of the Virgin” in the arched area of the northern portal (around 1400) and its counterpart “Death of the Virgin” above the southern portal (pre-1449), as well as the relief of the “Mount of Olives” (1511) in front of the staircase.

The church was re-gothicised in the 19th century, and the Baroque-period high altar (1700) with its central image of the “Assumption of the Virgin” was kept in the Spitalskirche (Infirmary Church) until 1951.

Almost exactly opposite the southern portal is the entrance to the chapel of St. Martin (Martinikapelle), which was built as a late-Gothic ossuary from 1512-1520. It has a more or less square ground plan with a 5/8 choir termination attached in the east. The crypt level has a fan-vaulted ceiling supported by a single central column. On the upper levels, the main room features a net-vaulted ceiling, the choir a star-ribbed vault. The ossuary is the most recently built part of the former castle and a wall links it to the southern tower. Since 1953, the chapel has been used as a memorial site for the victims of the two world wars.

Open to visitors on Sundays

Herzogsburg (Duke’s Castle), the imposing castle behind the parish church, is part of a chain of defence fortifications erected in the 11th century on the eastern outskirts of the Vienna woods. Originally it was the main residence of the Babenberg’s vassals. In the 14th and 15th centuries it served as a residence for the princesses of the House of Habsburg.

Walking between the parish church and the Chapel of St. Martin (Martinikapelle, built as an ossuary) the visitor first reaches the clerestory building with its double-arched Romanesque windows. Directly adjacent to it is the main residential tract. The twin-aisled cross-barrelled vaulting on heavy four-cornered piers on the ground level dates back to the 17th century (armoury). The Gothic balcony on the west side of the castle with its splendid stone tracery was built in the 14th/15th centuries.

After extensive renovation in 1964-1967, the castle was converted into an art and event centre.

After a much-conversion and expansion in 2008-10, it presents itself now as a modern Convention Centre and well-done combination of 1000 years of history with a fascinating range of possible uses of event.

Every year the courtyard hosts the Perchtoldsdorfer Sommerspiele, an open-air summer theatre festival that was first staged in July 1976.

Visits by appointment with the local administration, Marktplatz 11,
Phone. (01) 866 83/ext. 400

The Town Hall (Rathaus) on Marktplatz 10 is the only one of the two buildings in the town – the other is the Wagnerhaus (Marktplatz 23) - which has preserved its Gothic, or more precisely late-Gothic, character. It dates back to the mid-15th century and was originally a private town house that was only used as a town hall as of 1554. The finely structured twin-building with its raised gables, a façade decorated with a-secco painting (1526) and a Gothic oriel dating from before 1500, is still used as an assembly hall by the municipal council.

The assembly hall on the first floor was re-designed in 1976 by the renowned architect Hans Hollein. It boasts a magnificent stucco ceiling (ca. 1700) and fresco portrait medallions showing the town’s market judges from 1530 to 1737 (open to the public during opening hours of the museum). A famous wall painting (including legend) describing the atrocities during the Turkish siege of 1683 can be seen in the mayor’s office. The right-hand side of the building, now housing a restaurant, already contains hints of emerging Renaissance style, such as the first-floor oriels on the courtyard side or the roof-covered staircase in the courtyard that was formerly used to access the Ottoman Museum and Deutschmeister Museum (today the entrance is on Marktplatz through the new Info-Center).

Erected in Marktplatz in 1713/14, the Holy Trinity Column or Plague Memorial Column (Dreifaltigkeitssäule or Pestsäule) rests on a square stone base set in stone volutes. It is crowned by a Baroque Holy Trinity figure. Many experts attribute the remarkable relief depicting the plague in Vienna on the southern face of the base to the famous Baroque artist Fischer von Erlach.

Knappenhof, at Wiener Gasse 17, is a bijoux Baroque palace built in the first half of the 18th century on a piece of feudal land owned by the sovereign prince and first recorded in 1380. The Knappenhof is often called Perchtoldsdorf’s finest secular building. A focal point in the charming courtyard is the outside staircase supported by two well-muscled Atlases. Another feature from the time of the palace’s construction are the restored mythological figures in the Baroque gardens (Zellpark). From 1795-1848 the Knappenhof ("Knappen-Straße" was the original name of Wiener Gasse) housed Austria’s first cotton printing mill. The local authority acquired the palace including the re-designed gardens in 1971 and had it restored to its former splendour in 1983.

Built from 1406-1419, the Infirmary Church (Spitalskirche zur Hl. Dreifaltigkeit) is a gothic structure commissioned by Duchess Beatrix in 1399 as a church for the adjacent hospital. From the outside the single-nave, four-bay structure with a 5/8 choir termination appears plain and unadorned, its only decorative elements the small tower shaped like a roof spire and the high tracery windows. Inside, visitors are surprised to find a fine star-ribbed vaulted ceiling. An interesting feature is the two-part organ gallery with its Gothic organ base. The neo-Gothic high altar was taken over from the parish church in 1951. Most of the community hospital has disappeared, leaving only insignificant remnants behind.

The Hugo Wolf-Haus in Brunner Gasse 26 is a typical vintner’s house dating back to the 16th century. In the 18th century it was owned for a short time by the Schwarzspanier, the Benedictine monks of Montserrat. The house derives its particular cultural significance from the fact that the famous composer Hugo Wolf (1860-1903) often stayed there. It was here during numerous sojourns in the years 1888 until 1896 that he created 116 of his finest songs, including the music to the poems of Mörike, the Spanisches Liederbuch and the second part of the Italienisches Liederbuch, as well as the opera Der Corregidor. Today, a Hugo-Wolf memorial and a Hugo-Wolf Museum have been established in this building.

Late-Gothic in its core and originally a much larger building is the presbytery (Pfarrhof) on Marktplatz 14. It assumed its current appearance when Cardinal Migazzi had it converted in the 18th century. The façade is more recent and dates back to the 19th century.

Historical town and farm houses

Visits only upon prior permission of the owners.

on Marktplatz 6; a Renaissance building from about 1600 with a late-Gothic core. Until 1791, the building adjoined the church fortifications to the north as “the corner house by the castle”. The splendid colonnaded arcade in the courtyard gives the buildings a Mediterranean flair; the smoke kitchen to the right of the vaulted entrance to the courtyard has been preserved over the centuries by the previous owners.

on Marktplatz 22 from the first half of the 16th century; in its arcade court, Gothic elements are harmoniously blended with Renaissance style.

on Marktplatz 9; its name is derived from the gingerbread bakery that has had its premises here since 1685. The Renaissance building has a late-Gothic core from the 16th century. The year 1513 inscribed on the Baroque gable is probably an indication of the construction date.

Easily the finest Renaissance building in Perchtoldsdorf is Strenningerhof on Marktplatz 3 with its splendid arcade court with Tuscan columns and a small round oriel on the south-west side. Built in the late 16th century, the building was named after Adam Strenninger, the unfortunate market judge of Perchtoldsdorf who is reported to have been the first to die when roaming hordes perpetrated a massacre in 1683.

in Elisabethstraße 4, is often called the oldest surviving private town house. In the Middle Ages there was probably a dam around here to supply water to the moat. The building has a 14th century core and is noted for its irregular design with many nooks and crannies and late-Gothic stylistic elements. The mezzanine hallway is paved with animal bones (hence the name Knochen-Hof).

The building in Elisabethstraße 18
is a Renaissance building from the 16th century with a late-Gothic core. It is said to have been the seat of a local medieval Corpus Christi brotherhood and hence also known as Haus der Gottesleichnamszeche. The philologist and scientist Johann Popovic died here (1774).

Stations of the Cross on Hochberg
The sculptor Herbert Meusburger from Vorarlberg created the Stations of the Cross on Hochberg, an ancient cult site which dates back probably as far as the late Neolithic period.
Meusburger composed his Stations of the Cross on the basis of 77 individual stone modules, creating sculptures based on the geometry of the cross. He used dark serpentine and light granite to emphasize the symbolic content of the 14 stations: the opposite poles of life and death, of separation and unity. The work is not exclusively devoted to the passion of Christ: one sculpture contains granite blocks from the concentration camp at Mauthausen and creates a link with the sufferings of the victims.