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Villach History, Austria

An important railway junction to most of Austria and the Italian border, Villach is the second largest city of Carinthia. It is situated on the Drau River at the eastern foot of the Villacher Alps, west of Klagenfurt, south of Austria. After being almost completely destroyed during World War II, Villach has risen as the commercial hub of the Kärnten state and a major lead-mining center in Europe. Villach History is revealed in the following paragraphs.

Villach History - Ancient Times

Archeological artifacts dug in Villach show that humans inhabited the region since the Neolithic period. 15th century BC onwards, the area was found to have indications of Roman influences, as Roman items were unearthed everywhere. Warmbad Villach is close to the ancient Roman road known as Römerweg, which was considered as one of the major routes from Italy into the eastern Alpine expanse.

Villach History - The Middle Ages

Under the rule of the Dukedom of Bavaria in 740, the Karantanien arrived at Villach. In 811, Charles the Great made use of the Drau River as a boundary to mark the diocesan border between Salzburg and Aquileja during the massive conversion of the region to Christianity.

In 1007, Villach was given by Kaiser Heinrich II to the bishopric of Bamberg. Under the terms of the comprehensive market charter of King Henry IV in 1060 and the permission of Kaiser Friedrich II to hold annual markets in 1225, Villach became an important center of trade in The Middle Ages, but declined after the introduction of new trade routes that nearly caused a massive emigration of its citizens in 1745.

By 1240, Villach was formally recognized as a town and its oldest town charter was dated as old as 1392. In 1348, a severe earthquake damaged a large part of Villach (which was followed by another devastating one in 1690).

Villach History - From 16th to 19th Century

Villach was ravaged by fire on different occasions between the period of 16th and 19th century - 1524, 1606, 1713 and 1813. When Reformation reached Villach in 1526, the town became the center for Protestantism in Carinthia, forcing the Lutherans to emigrate by 1600 and speeding up the town’s economic decline.

In 1759, Villach along with the other Bamberg possessions in Carinthia was officially acquired by Empress Maria Theresa for Austria. Under Napoleon’s rule from 1809 until 1813, Villach became the main town of the Illyrian provinces of the French Empire. In 1864, the construction of an important railway joint helped revive Villach’s economy.

Villach History - Modern Times

In 1932, Villach was established as an autonomous authority and assumed the functions of the region’s administration. During the Second World War, the city was heavily bombed by the Allies and suffered a major destruction. Fortunately, the city was able to quickly recover from this.

Villach History marks the city as one of the key fortresses of Austria. It remained strong despite the hardships it went through. Just like Graz History and Linz History, the city’s ups and downs remain a source of strength for the community.

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Read our members' reviews about Villach

  • lindamuraCome to ski in the charming Villach
    review by lindamura posted more then 30 days ago
    It has a unique place in the world, a location that gives you the freedom to find yourself, both mind and body. Between lakes and mountain peaks in the very heart of Carinthia lies the town of Villach. It is a popular family destination that has specialized in catering for both individual needs...
  • lindamuraVillach, a city among mountain peaks
    review by lindamura posted more then 30 days ago
    Between lakes and mountain peaks in the very heart of Carinthia lies the town of Villach. It is a popular family destination that has specialized in catering for both individual needs and for groups. Being at the confluence of three countries, the resort is also a meeting point for Austrians,...
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