There are numerous historic buildings to be visited close to Wolfsberg which have survived the ages as “testimonies to the past”. They include many ruins, castles, old churches and chapels.
A very special place of interest is Waldenstein Castle (Schloss Waldenstein) which rises up to the north of the town in Waldenstein valley. It was built in the first half of the 12th century, commissioned by the diocese of Bamberg which had iron ore mining operations in the valley at that time.
The original Romanesque castle complex was altered and extended in gothic style during the 15th century. In the 16th century, Waldenstein was a centre of the Reformation movement under the protestant governor and commander Hans Ungnad von Sonnegg (1483–1564). Ungnad invested part of his wealth in a printing works in Urach near Tübingen, where the protestant preacher Primoz Trubar translated Luther’s writings into Slovene with the help of Georg Dalmatin. After the printing works had been shut down, a press and the old Glagolitic, Cyrillic and Latin letters are said to have been taken to Waldenstein. Later, these treasures were taken away by French soldiers.
There are numerous legends surrounding Waldenstein Castle, which was acquired by Count Hugo Henckel von Donnersmarck in 1851. In 1669 jealousy is said to have led the lord of Waldenstein Castle to lock the ensign Peter Eckhard von Peckern in a dark dungeon and leave him to starve to death. Before the unfortunate ensign died, he wrote a message in blood on the wall of his cell: “Your lordship, let justice prevail! For you are a lord and I am a servant. As you shall judge me, so God will also judge you one day!" Waldenstein Castle was also where the Wolfsberg-born Josef Ritter von Rainer-Harbach set a poem by Johann Thaurer Ritter von Gallenstein to music in 1835. The song was officially declared the “Carinthian anthem” in 1911.
Gräbern Church is one of the oldest places of worship in the Lavant Valley. Legend attributes the building of the church to St. Hemma (c. 995 – after 1044), the patron saint of Carinthia. Hemma married the respected Count Wilhelm von Zeltschach, who later quelled an uprising by the Görtschitztal miners so bloodily that he decided to travel to the Holy Land to atone for his deeds.
According to legend, the count took so seriously ill on his return journey that he was weak and frail by the time he reached the Lavant Valley. He stopped for a rest at a farmhouse in Auen, where he died from his serious illness only a few hours later.
However, before he died he made the farmer promise to lay his corpse on a cart, harness two heifers and allow them to run free. He instructed that a stone cross be erected at the places where the animals had their first two rests, and that he should be buried at the spot where they stopped for the third.
The farmer fulfilled Wilhelm’s final wish — his animals took their third rest in Gräbern. In 1043 St. Hemma is said to have built a small church and planted three lime trees over her husband’s grave, where several miracles soon happened.
Down the centuries Gräbern Church, which is also known locally as “Wilhelm’s Church”, was a frequent place of pilgrimage. Pilgrims prayed at Wilhelm’s grave for his intercession in healing them of serious illnesses, in particular diseases of the head.
Close by is the village of Prebl which is associated with the great physician and scholar Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, better known as Paracelsus. Paracelsus is said to have been one of the first to closely analyze Prebl’s natural spring water at the beginning of the 16th century. Today Prebl’s spring and mineral water is known throughout Europe. The villages of St. Margarethen and St. Michael, located to the west of Wolfsberg, are the sites of ancient settlements. Centrally located in the small village of St. Michael is the old Karmel-Himmelau convent of the Carmelite Order.
Also worthy of a visit are the remains of an epitaph dating from Roman times. Ancient stone memorials are also to be found in St. Jakob bei Wolfsberg, where the gothic church and its baroque high altar make an interesting outing for culture enthusiasts.
St. Marein, to the south-west of Wolfsberg, is regarded as the Lavant Valley’s original parish.
Back in the second half of the 9th century a chapel is supposed to have stood there. The twin-towered Maria Himmelfahrt Church, whose late gothic south portal still bears old stonemasonry work, houses numerous art treasures including the splendid gothic pulpit (1250) with numerous carved and gilded figures.
Yet another place of interest is Thürn Castle (Schloss Thürn) which was built on a foothill of the Saualpe in the Middle Ages.
The tower dates from the 13th century. The castle is privately owned. Much in St. Stefan recalls the famous poet Christine Lavant who is buried at St. Stefan cemetery. To the south-east of the village is the Hartneidstein castle ruin, a popular place for outings. The castle was in Bamberg ownership during the Middle Ages and was seriously damaged during the Turkish siege. Finally, to the north of Wolfsberg is Theissenegg, one of Carinthia’s most beautiful floral villages.
This beautiful flower garden is located 1,100 metres above sea level and is an inspiration to everyone visiting it. Looking back on over 700 years of history, Theissenegg boasts the old St. Magdalena church, one of the most impressive fortified churches in the Lavant Valley. This place of worship still has a Romanesque interior and is surrounded by the remains of an old fortification wall.