Grieskirchen in Upper Austria
Off the beaten track in the wider Linz area
Grieskirchen is a small town in Upper Austria, not far from the provincial capital Linz. It has a population of approximately 5,000 and is the county town or Bezirkshauptstadt of a district. As such, it serves as an important administrative centre for the area and comes with schools, a court and a civil administrative office. Grieskirchen is by no means a touristy place, but if you happen to pass through the town, do stop: There are a few things worth noting in Grieskirchen.
For example the parish church of St. Martin, which was originally built in Gothic style and later re-modelled in Baroque - a typical fate for an Austrian church in any area that could afford this kind of upgrade. The Sebastianfriedhof is a local cemetery that developed after the plague caused a sudden increase in the demand for burial grounds; it was founded in 1585 and comes with a gate dating back to 1593. Another religious attraction of Grieskirchen is the Annakapelle, a chapel in late-Gothic style. The Annakapelle was built in the 15th century and is locally well-known for its vaulted ceiling and its early Baroque altar from the mid-17th century.
Exploring the Town Centre of Grieskirchen
On Pühringerplatz Square, you will find the Dreifaltigkeitssäle or Trinity Column, another typical feature of market towns that were somewhat wealthy in Baroque days. The Trinity Column was a gift by Johann Georg Adam von Hoheneck, a local noblemen; it was built in 1708. Until 1972, it was situated in the hamlet of Unternberg, until it was moved to its current location. Note also various nice burgher houses and the Rathaus (city hall). The main attractions of Grieskirchen, however, is the local palace.
Schloss Parz is a countryside retreat that ranks among the most extensive and elaborate Renaissance palaces of Upper Austria (a bit of a joke, since there are rarely any Renaissance palaces in Austria, not to mention Upper Austria - note important exceptions such as Schloss Porcia, Schloss Ambras or Schloss Neugebäude). Schloss Parz comes with a leisure castle that is surrounded by a ditch filled with water.
300 years ago, the southern fašade of Schloss Parz was covered with frescoes - which were later painted over in plain white during the Baroque period (same story as above). These frescoes were re-discovered only in 1987 in the course of renovation work. In the following years, the frescoes were uncovered. They are considered to be the largest array of sequential Renaissance frescoes north of the Alps and now serve as the claim to fame for Grieskirchen. The town of Grieskirchen and Schloss Parz will be host of the exhibition "Reformation and Counterreformation" in 2010.
Attractions near Grieskirchen & Some History
Approximately two kilometres north of Grieskirchen, you will find Schloss Tollet, a palace that is actually rather old, but was re-modelled extensively in the 19th century. To match the taste (or rather lack of taste) of this time, the style is the Disneyland-Historicism that you can also find pretty much anywhere in Vienna. For an attraction that I would personally rank higher than Schloss Tollet, check out the beers of the local brewery, the Grieskirchner Bier.
Finally, a few brief words on the history of Grieskirchen: In 1075, the town is first mentioned in a written document, the market privilege of Grieskirchen can be tracked back to 1327. After 1515, Schloss Parz is built. The following decades are dominated by plague and peasant wars, fuelled by the reformation, later the counter-reformation. In 1613, Grieskirchen is elevated to the rank of a city (Stadtrecht). In 1626, the next series of peasant wars climaxes around Grieskirchen; the 30-Years-War doesn′t help to resolve the situation. The plague returns, too - particularly bad in 1714 and 1715. In 1747, a great fire destroyed much of Grieskirchen.
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