Tuesday, December 13, 2011


We took a little Ausflug with friends this weekend to see how Christmastime is celebrated in the Styrian Alps.  We spent all of Sunday in Mariazell, an unspoiled, old-world, enchanting mountain village about 150km from Vienna, situated on the border between the states of Niederösterreich and Steiermark.

Mariazell is a sacred destination for Catholics.  Legend has it that in 1157, a Benedictine monk was searching through the forest for a place to build a monastery.  At one point, his path became blocked by a giant boulder that was too big to move or even go around.  Not knowing what to do, the monk pulled a small wooden statue of the Virgin Mary from his bag, knelt in prayer, and asked the Virgin Mary for guidance.  Suddenly there was a great noise and the rock split down the middle, allowing him to pass through.  As he passed, he placed the small statue respectfully on a nearby branch.  Soon thereafter, he and some of the local people constructed a small chapel to house the statue.  Word of the miracle and the statue quickly spread across the countryside and the pilgrimage that continues today, had begun.  Over the years, more religious events have occurred here and the size of the chapel has grown into a giant Gothic-turned-Baroque basilica that it is today.  It is certainly one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen.

In addition to visiting the church, we also enjoyed seeing the town, roaming through the Adventmarkt, and shopping at the famous Pirker Lebkuchen shop.


Ah, Mariazell.  Sie sind so schön.


Lydia @ See Beautiful said...

It's magic there, right? That can't really be real. It simply looks too fantastically wonderful. The snow capped roofs are perfectly crafted. The ornate gold in the church is perfectly shined. It's all just perfect. Perhaps divinely constructed?

Windows of Vienna said...

Truly magical. You should come back during Easter-time or late spring when all the flowers bloom and everything turns green. And you will have the chance to eat Lebkuchen-Eis!
Did you have the chance to visit Lake Erlauf nearby?

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