Upper Austrian County Town with limited Appeal
Vöcklabruck is a town in a rather unappealing part of Upper Austria, has approximately 12,000 residents and plays an important role as a centre of education, commerce and transport. Vöcklabruck is a county town (Bezirkshauptstadt), which means that it is the logical focal point of an entire region - and knowing this part of Upper Austria fairly well, I can say that it is a fairly densely populated one.
Just like nearby Attnang-Puchheim, Vöcklabruck claims to be the "gate to the Salzkammergut". Just like Attnang-Puchheim, Vöcklabruck is not very interesting. Nevertheless, Attnang-Puchheim is a bit of a shit-hole, whereas Vöcklabruck does have its interesting corners.
If you end up there waiting for a train or bus link (happens to me rather frequently), it is worth taking a look around. Vöcklabruck has a nice, central town square with Stadtturm towers; these towers bear frescoes that were discovered in the 1960ies. Art historians have linked these frescoes with the Tyrolean builder Jörg Kölderer, who also created the frescoes in Saggenburg castle in Innsbruck. These fresocoes were destroyed as early as 1766, which increases the value of the Vöcklabruck ones even more.
Attractions of Vöcklabruck
Note the Dörflkirche, also called Ägidiuskirche; it is a nice Baroque church that was built between 1688 and 1691. The builder in charge was Carlo Antonio Carlone; the stucco work was done by his brother Giovanni Battista Carlone. The frescoes were painted by Carlo Antonio Bussi. Nearby, just by the river Vöckla, you can find the Schöndorfer Kirche, an early Medieval church that also served as a refuge thanks to its thick walls. It was built at some point before 824. Other significant churches include the Stadtpfarrkirche zum heiligen Ulrich, the parish church of Vöcklabruck; and the Lutheran "Evanglische Friedenskirche".
Vöcklabruck also has a town museum, called "Heimathaus Vöcklabruck", dedicated to the history of the city and its surroundings; and the "Museum der Heimatvertriebenen", dedicated to the ethnic Germans of Eastern Europe that were expelled after World War II. Many of them found a safe shelter in Austria, including a community that made its way to Vöcklabruck.
A neat building that should be noted is Schloss Wagrain, a Baroque chateaux that is now home to a secondary school. Note also the Ruine Alt Wartenburg, a ruined castle nearby. And finally, the "Anton-Bruckner-Rundweg", a hiking route with information plates on Anton Bruckner (which explains the name, I guess). But now for the history of Vöcklabruck.
History of Vöcklabruck
The area around Vöcklabruck was populated in Celtic times and later incorporated into the Roman province Noricum. Around 550, Bavarians moved into the valley along the Vöckla, making it one of the first regions within today′s Austria to gain a Bavarian population. In 1134, the name Vöcklabruck (in a somewhat archaic way, "Pons Veckelahe") was mentioned for the first time. Between 1134 and 1143, a local nobleman endowed a hospital for Vöcklabruck. Over the course of the 14th century, Vöcklabruck developed into a prosperous market town and was elevated into the rank of a city - however, it is now known when this happened exactly.
The city suffered - like most of today′s Upper Austria - from the peasant wars that resulted from the reformation. The counter reformation did not improve the situation dramatically. A second series of peasant wars, revolting against the counterreformation and the Habsburg landlords, occurred around 1626 - neatly fitting into the 30-Years-War. Only in 1718, Emperor Charles VI compensates the depths of Vöcklabruck and provides it with its former privileges. In the course of the Napoleonic Wars, Vöcklabruck is plundered. Only with the Vienna Congress, Vöcklabruck is finally given to Austria.
In 1893, a building company in Vöcklabruck developed the material "Eternit", a mix of asbestos and cement. It becomes a huge success and contributes to the rise of Vöcklabruck in the 20th century. During WWII, the area of Wagrain held a sub-branch of the concentration camp in Mauthausen (between 1941 and 1942) with some 300 prisoners. Like most of Upper Austria, Vöcklabruck saw a rapid economic development especially after approximately 1990.
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