Villach, Austria on the Drau River- Photo By Patrice Raplee
By Patrice Raplee
Castles, lush green countryside surrounded by mountains, deep
blue lakes and small towns ringing with the sound of church bells
seem distantly out of reach in today’s chaotic world. However, these
hamlets still exist and are relatively easy to reach. Villach (pronounced
Vee-lock) is located in the southern region of Austria and off the
typical tourist radar. Villach is also close to other countries,
such as Slovenia, Italy and Germany.
Villach’s old town is the focal point for activity and captures the
essence of a storybook, with towering church spires set against scenic
mountain ranges and the Drau River gently flowing past. The pedestrian
area of the town is studded with cobblestone streets and is styled
after a combination of Baroque and Bavarian alpine architecture.
In the early morning hours, when the streets are empty, it is easy
to imagine the figure of Mozart passing by.
The shops that line the streets cater to tourists and Villach’s
residents, with restaurants, clothing, jewelry, bistros, grocery
and small hotels. Side streets are often hidden behind a seemingly
innocuous entranceway, but open up into charming small shops or cafes
with outside seating, surrounded by tiny sun-filled gardens. The
upper floors of the town’s shops are living or hotel accommodations.
Mosser Hotel Dining Atrium Villach - Photo By Patrice Raplee
Several hotels overlook the town Platz, but the oldest family-run
establishment is the Mosser Hotel. Built over 300 years ago, the
Mosser Hotel has gone through many remodels and even was rebuilt
after the town was bombed in World War II. Sonny, Valentin and Tina
Mosser started running the hotel in the ‘90s and have remodeled it
with all modern features (including high-speed internet), gorgeous
tiled bathrooms and suites with jet tubs. The wide picture windows
open up and look over the town and an old Bavarian church tower with
chiming bells. Even though the hotel was remodeled, the Mosser family
was careful to keep the character and style of the hotel within its
original context. The lovely deep burgundy carpets, antique furniture
and ornate wrought iron stair railings are reminiscent of traditional
European splendor. A luscious breakfast buffet is included with room
accommodations and is served in a sunny, vaulted glass ceiling atrium.
The Mosser family is warm and inviting and they make sure that their
guests are comfortable and happy with their rooms and services. The
Mosser Hotel is a jewel and highly recommended for atmosphere and
value! For additional information, go to http://www.tiscover.at/mosser.hotel.
The Romantik Post Hotel is located in the center of the town’s
Platz. The Romantik is a fine hotel, but they are definitely famous
for their traditional cuisine. The schnitzels, soups, stews, pates
and veal dishes are rich and flavorful. The service is also excellent
and the atmosphere is conducive to long leisurely meals. The restaurant
is upscale and their cuisine is the best in Villach’s old town.
There are wide varieties of shops in Villach and all have
goods to recommend them; however, two clothing venues top the list
as exciting and unusual. Alppirat, located on a side street named
Lederergasse, is the absolute find for cool leather coats and clothing.
The fashions are a virtual culture clash of modern and medieval Bavarian
Michi & Ecky Schellerer of Alppirat at
Castle, Austria -
Photo By Patrice Raplee
Proprietors Michi and Ecky Schellerer design all of the fabulous
couture in their store, even the buttons that, upon closer inspection,
show detailed images of armored knights on horses. The Schellerer’s
magnificent designs are definitely original and draw immediate comment.
The husband and wife team established their business 12 years
ago and have garnered a reputation in Europe for well-made clothing
and leather fashions that are reasonably priced and much sought after.
If a customer wants something specifically designed for them, or
for a show, the Schellerers only need a picture, or drawing with
four to six weeks notice. The couple’s fashions have caught the attention
of Hollywood stars and rock musicians from around the globe and even
bridal couples who wish to wear beautiful and romantic clothes. Customers
can order Alppirat fashions from the Schellerer’s website and have
it delivered internationally. For more information on Alppirat clothing,
go to http://www.alppirat.at/new/index.htm.
The Liebe Dinge, located on Hauptplatz 9, is haute couture
for Austrian fashion and is a must for the upscale fashion-lover.
Their line of European designs is marvelous, but so are the prices.
Even if the couture is a bit off your budget, have a peek at the
boutique’s fashions, they are well worth the perusal.
View of Villach and surrounding countryside from
Landskron Castle Austria
- Photo By Patrice Raplee
The best time for visiting Villach is from May to September.
However, August is the prime time due to Villach’s annual weeklong
Kirchtag celebration. Lederhosen, beer and music draw Austrians from
other towns and villages to show their dances, costumes and customs.
Kirchtag is along the lines of a giant October fest and everyone
After visiting Villach with all of the incredible architecture,
monuments, shops and restaurants, it’s time to scout the lakes, castles
and countryside. Just 20 minutes from Villach is the Landskron castle.
Originally built around 1330, the castle has survived pillaging,
burning and the effects of the Austrian weather. The castle is open
to the public and is easily accessible by car. The vistas from the
castle are breathtaking; Landskron overlooks Villach and the surrounding
countryside, as well as several lakes. The birds of prey zoo is located
on the castle’s grounds and is open for exhibition from May to October.
Landskron also has a wonderful restaurant with a medieval atmosphere
that is open from May to the end of September. The castle evokes
a rather enchanting aura and the grounds are large, so plan at least
several hours for your visit. For additional information, go to http://www.burg-landskron.at.
Down the hill from Landskron Castle is Monkey Mountain. It
is a free-roaming enclosure for about 90 Japanese Macaques. Visitors
take a guided tour and can watch the Macaques interact, play and
nurture their young at close range. For additional information, go
Villach, Austria, and the surrounding countryside are incredibly beautiful.
There are many options for visitors to enjoy, everything from hiking,
biking, sightseeing, exploring, shopping and dining. The area is
rich, green, harmonious and tranquil. It is a perfect vacation spot
to see the unspoiled beauty of Alpine mountains and a culture rich
in tradition. For additional information on Villach, Austria, go
to http://www.villach.at. Language selection is on the right side
of the webpage.