The best spot to admire the town of Feldkirch from above is undoubtedly Schattenburg Castle itself.
Despite its name, it is a medieval fortress that still maintains its original form. It is flanked by towers and has a central courtyard from which we can access any of the areas, both internal and external. Inside it houses the local city museum, and a magnificent restaurant, where you can try some of the traditional Austrian dishes. This castle-fortress is perched on top of a hill, surrounded by gardens and vineyards. It can be reached in two ways. The bravest ones may climb the steep stone stairs from the Jahnplatz Square, recognizable by having a parking lot on its surface. These steps lead to the top of the hill along the castle structure. However, it is also possible to walk up to the main entrance along Burggasse Street. This option is a slope, somewhat steep, but much friendlier and with less effort for the knees. Once inside the castle and from any of its towers, you can admire wonderful and spectacular views of both the city itself and the mountainous environment of the Vorarlberg region. Since we are practically on the border of Austria with Liechtenstein, and just short of the Helvetic Confederation, i.e. Switzerland, from this point you can see the various defensive towers of the old medieval wall, rebuilt in the sixteenth century. Of course, also the River Ill, one of the tributaries of the beautiful River Rhine, fantastic buildings like the Conservatory of music or the primitive Hydroelectric station of the city are all visible. We can also recognize the urban grid layout so characteristic of the center, where some churches like the Johanniterkirche or the cathedral of St. Nicholas itself stand out. An incomparable view, and a plus in any visit to the beautiful medieval city of Feldkirche.
Address: Burggasse 1,
ALPINE COW CHEESES
The cuisine of the Vorarlberg region is very influenced by German cuisine, and in particular with the cuisine of Switzerland due to its proximity. First of all, we have to try the Wiener Schnitzel, typical throughout Austria and is nothing more than the famous fried and breaded steak that usually comes with fries or with the also typical potato salad cooked and dressed. In the city of Feldkirch it is served in almost every restaurant. Another specialty of the gastronomy is the Rösti, which despite being a very Swiss dish is very common in this region. It is a dish based on grated potato, poached in a frying pan until golden brown and then, you can add an egg or some pieces of cheese. Speaking of cheese, this is one of the main products that has a very important presence in the cuisine of Feldkirch and Vorarlberg.
n this region, cheeses are made from raw cow´s milk. The most important factor in the production of these cheeses is that the milk must come from Alpine cows that have been grazing in meadows between 1,000 and 1,800 m above sea level, which is why the cheeses produced in the Vorsäss, Maisäss and Rheintal regions are characterized by their flavor and intense aroma. This cheese is aged for three to six months, resulting in rather hard cheeses with an intense flavor. Remember that you are in an area where cattle raising has a long tradition. It is said that here the cows are the masters of the landscape. When spring arrives, they graze freely and it is the shepherd who has to follow them. They are the ones who have control of where the cows graze and they usually go up the mountain as the snow disappears from the peaks. Try one of these wonderful cheeses to check the food quality of the Voralberg cows or try some of the more traditional dishes where one of the main ingredients is alpine cow cheese. Among them stands out the Rösti, as we have already mentioned above, but also the Käsknöpfle and the Kässpätzle.
Now it´s time for the "Mahlzeit" (Bon appétit!).
KNOWING THE LOCAL PRODUCTS
We are not going to any shopping mall, nor to any special store. For shopping in Feldkirch, we are going to its traditional markets of local products. We recommend you to visit the fruit and vegetable market that is held every Tuesday or Saturday in the city center. These stalls are placed in the streets Marktplatz, Marktgasse and Neustadt from 13:30. And it is one of the most authentic places to get to know the city in full motion, to find out what the local products are and to observe the locals in their daily shopping. These markets are very common in Austria, Germany and Switzerland, and also have a rural origin. Initially they were held by the farmers as a quick and direct means of getting their products to the consumer. Later, by paying a small tax to the city government, a few market days a week were established. This helped to ensure controlled sales and, above all, that the products complied with quality criteria. It also helped to ensure that there was a greater variety of goods. Today, all the products comply with modern quality and sanitation laws, without losing any of their flavor and tradition. However, it must be recognized that they do not only sell these products.
It is also possible to find good fish, fresh meat and many delicacies from nearby countries such as Italy or France, whether they are products such as cheeses, pickles, herbs, dressings, or fruits that are not very common in the region.
Local producers open their stalls giving color and animation to the center. Each vendor tries to sell their best goods, usually products made by themselves such as cheeses, jams, honey or wild fruit juices. Even if we do not want to buy any of these products, going to one of these markets will show us a lot of the culinary culture of this country and adjacent regions. Don´t miss it, it is an opportunity to get to know the way of life of the locals.
Dirección: Marktplatz, Marktgasse y Neustadt
A PHOTO WITH CENTURIES OF HISTORY
Obviously the city offers several important points to take an unforgettable photo, either in front of any of its facades, its churches, alleys, hidden gardens, the river or the high mountains of Vorarlberg. But undoubtedly the public fountain on Neustadt Street is one of the great icons of the city. This fountain always gave much to talk about as there are several versions of who it represents. We can see an upright knight, accompanied by his lance, in a military and alert position.
The armor and the helmet with plume indicate the noble origin of this character, which has always led to controversy. Some say that it is Count Rudolf IV, last lord of the house of Monfort, others, however, believe that it is the first of the counts and founder of the lineage with headquarters and official residence in the city of Feldkirch itself, Hugo I. Be that as it may, it really represents the power and splendor of these lords who dominated the territory from Bregenz to Feldkirch throughout the Middle Ages and who, later, were a reference among the nobility. In this fountain we can see much more than an armed knight, we can feel part of the medieval past, of the walled defenses and the passes of the high Arlberg mountains. We can be sure that the merchant caravans that came here could rest easy under the protection of the Monfort family. Today, this fountain, which is located just a stone´s throw from Schattenburg Castle and dominates the pedestrian zone, was completely renovated and refurbished in 1828. From time immemorial, the fountain welcomes and greets us and also indicates that we are under the protection of the castle, which we can also admire from the fountain.
THE FIRST ADVERTISING POSTERS IN HISTORY
In order to discover cities well, it is not only necessary to visit monuments. You have to open your eyes wide and look to all sides, not only at eye level, but also downwards and upwards.
And that is where we are going to focus on this occasion, we must look to the top of the buildings to discover some elements that usually go somewhat unnoticed: the old advertisements of the stores.
These old advertisements consist of iron structures, usually colorful, which are located on the facades above the establishments. Nowadays, there are not as many as there were in the past, and that is why we must look carefully. In the old days, there were no signs or posters, nor LED or neon lights to advertise the different businesses and products that merchants or artisans could sell. In addition, there was a circumstance that prevented to put the name or the activity as it is still done today (dressmaker, supermarket, etc...) and this was that the population was almost totally illiterate. Thus, it was useless to write more than the family name of the owner. And how was this dilemma solved? Well, it was easy; the shoemaker ordered a huge boot inside a floral rockery from the blacksmith, painted it with colored paint and hung it above the store. After this brilliant idea, the bookseller did the same with a book, and then the dressmaker, the watchmaker, the innkeeper, the cloth merchant, etc. Evidently, the wealthiest and most prosperous businesses decorated their advertisements with gold leaf and bright colors as a way of differentiating themselves and demonstrating something more than the activity they were engaged in... Today we can find these structures all over the city, but you have to look hard to find them. As an example there is a huge lion that advertises a former hotel called exactly that: Löwenhof. Pay attention, look up and find these beautiful billboards with years of history. Curious and beautiful, you will be surprised by the imagination of the merchants to publicize their business, through images.
LIVE, LAUGH, SLEEP
We propose a small challenge: first of all, you have to find an artistic work, a monument called Leben/Lachen/Sterben which means Live, Laugh, Die.
Secondly, we start with the challenge, concretely. It consists of finding and counting how many men´s faces and how many women´s faces there are. They are on the right, on the left and from top to bottom. With a little patience we can find them all. This is a monument that goes unnoticed in the street (a hint: it is very close to the river and one of its bridges).
The work was made by Stefan Fingzar, a young local artist from Feldkirch who started exhibiting in 2006, always having his own environment as a reference. He is currently finishing his latest creation. This work that we have to visit to meet the challenge, is in itself very different, as it introduces us in a second in the lives of the characters. Here the artist wants to confront the visitor with 598 anonymous human lives, one by one, through their looks, sad or happy, or indifferent. The 598 lives are represented with photographic portraits embedded in concrete blocks: the visitor will be surrounded by all of them and, through the eyes, walks and feels their lives, their laughter, their sadness, their agonizing thoughts, their youth, their mistakes, joy, love, agony, loneliness. Regardless of whether they are woman, man, young, old, or whether they are from this era or from previous times.
Through anonymity and ignorance, emotions emerge in the viewer. It is a modern work but it does not lose actuality since life, people, emotions are part of our nature, and it will depend on us every day, and in every different situation, to laugh, to live, to smile. This monument is located in a place of passage, close and alien at the same time, to all those who go to their duties, their obligations or just a walk in the surroundings.
A TREASURE TO BE DISCOVERED
In the city of Feldkirch there is a catholic cathedral, St. Nicholas, which also functions as a parish for the parishioners of the neighborhood. When we enter the temple we are surprised by its gothic arches, in white and the clear walls. But undoubtedly, one of the treasures that very few people know is the altar of Santa Ana. We find it on the right side of the main arch that gives access to the main altar of the cathedral. It is a triptych altar whose hinged doors can be closed or opened. However, it always remains open. The altar is topped with late Gothic and Renaissance crests, designed and built by the local author Wolf Hubert.
The artist is one of the great masters of the Danube school, developed in northern Austria and Bavaria, in the sixteenth century. Huber was a painter, sculptor and carver, and his works are still preserved in Vienna, Munich and Berlin. The altar depicts, at the top, a sculpture of St. Anne enthroned holding the Virgin Mary and the infant Jesus. The size of Jesus is larger than that of Mary, even being represented as a baby. In total there are four lateral scenes where we can see the birth of Jesus, the adoration of the magi and two scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary. In the central body is represented the scene of the descent, that is to say the mourning and weeping for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ once descended from the cross. The details of the figures and the realistic dramatism of the characters are impressive. Finally, on the altar bench is represented the Cloth of Veronica, which is held by two angels with brightly colored clothes. The face of Christ is absolutely clean of blood and with a deep gaze fixed on the spectator, giving much more realism to the work.
This altar is a real treasure to be discovered. Do not leave the city without seeing it.
Address: Dompl. 6.
WALKING ON THE SHORES OF THE ILL
This town of Feldkirch, thanks to being on the banks of the river Ill, is quite flat, which favors a pleasant walk to discover some of its most beautiful angles, having the mountains as watchtowers always alert. Shall we start? Our walk begins walking from the Monfort Haus (the very modern cultural and exhibition center of the city) always looking to our left the street of the old mill that will take us to the edge of the river. On our way we see how the different historical periods of the city intermingle as we find the remains of the medieval gate and tower of the water mill next to the facilities of the first power plant of the nineteenth century, with its water reservoir still visible. In a few steps we approach the bank of the Ill where we discover beautiful views, both of the urban expansion that took place on the other side of the river, as well as the evolution of the historical part. It must be taken into account that the limit of the old city was the river, therefore, all that is discovered on the other side are no longer medieval constructions. There we see the magnificent and imposing baroque palace that today houses the Vorarlberg Regional Conservatory of Music. This building is located next to one of the large green spaces for public use in Feldkirch, the so-called Spielplatz im Reichenfeld, which is reached by crossing a very modern metal footbridge. Continuing our walk with the river always on our left, we see to our right the private gardens of the old houses that are oriented towards the river promenade. We will reach the Water Tower, one of the defensive towers of the old wall, which evidently defended the city from the outermost angle over the waters of the river Ill. From here we can go in search of the other two towers that are still standing, but integrated between the houses of the city or continue aimlessly until we find a place where we can enjoy a well-deserved rest.
SIP A DRINK UNDER THE WARMTH OF A BLANKET
The city of Feldkirch, with a fairly young population, and a total of more than thirty-three thousand people, offers several options to relax and sit down for a drink. Whether hot or cold, any of the bars, restaurants or cafés in the central pedestrian zone of the city offer the opportunity to relax and take advantage of the opportunity to observe the pulse of the city. We are also fortunate that in this city the offer is wide and varied. One thing that is striking at any time of the year that you visit this town, is that people usually sit outside the establishments (either in summer or winter). Of course, this is not surprising, as everyone wants to take advantage of the beautiful mountain scenery that surrounds the city. But knowing that we are in an alpine region, surrounded by mountains and with rather harsh winters, we might imagine that everyone will sit inside. However, it is quite common to see the outside tables full. All the people are warm with the blankets offered by the establishments to their customers. Those blankets can be used to keep warm from the cold, while sitting. A characteristic of the urban structure of the historic center of the cities in this part of Europe is that the streets have porticoed galleries to protect from the sun, rain or snow, and that is where many bars usually place their outdoor tables. One of the busiest places in the center is the bakery Bäkerei Mangold, in the central Marktplatz street. So, don´t be discouraged by the cold of the autumn and winter months. Take a seat on any terrace to enjoy a short break and the beautiful scenery this city has to offer. And in order to feel like the locals, take advantage of the benefit of these blankets, no matter what season of the year you visit the city.
Dirección: Bäkerei Mangold, en Marktplatz
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