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|District||Sankt Veit an der Glan|
|• Mayor||Josef Kronlechner (SPÖ)|
|• Total||120.81 km2 (46.65 sq mi)|
|Elevation||634 m (2,080 ft)|
|• Density||41/km2 (110/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
Friesach covers an area of 120.83 km2 and its mean elevation is 631 meters above sea level. It is located in northern Carinthia near the border with Styria, about 40 km (25 mi) north of its capital Klagenfurt.
The municipality of Friesach consists of the following cadastral communities (or katastralgemeinden): Friesach, St. Salvator and Zeltschach; while further subdivided into 43 populated places (with population in brackets as of 1 January 2022).
In 860 King Louis the German of East Francia donated the lands of the estate ad Friesah - derived from Slavic Breza (birch) - in the Bavarian March of Carinthia (Carantania) to Archbishop Adalwin of Salzburg. From about 740 Bavarians had crossed the Central Eastern Alps and settled among the Slavic Carantanians.
After the formation of the Duchy of Carinthia in 976, Friesach remained a southern Salzburg exclusive and a strategically important outpost. About 1076 Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg, a follower of Pope Gregory VII in the Investiture Controversy, had the Petersberg fortress erected above the town in order to prevent Emperor Henry IV from crossing the Alps. The archbishop also had fierce enemies in the Carinthian ducal House of Sponheim, who after his deposition made several attempts to take possession of Friesach. Constant attacks by Duke Engelbert were finally repelled in 1124. In 1149 King Conrad III of Germany stayed at the castle on his way back from the Second Crusade, as did Richard the Lionheart returning from the Third Crusade in 1192, attempting to elude the guards of Duke Leopold V of Austria.
The settlement of Friesach beneath Petersberg Castle received town privileges in 1215. During the Middle Ages, it was a principal market town and commercial centre due to an important trade route from Vienna to Venice that ran through the city. The town flourished when Archbishop Eberhard II of Regensberg (1200-1246) made it the second largest city in the Archdiocese of Salzburg and the most important town in Carinthia. From local silver resources it even minted its own currency called the Friesacher Pfennig or Frizatik, widely used within the Austrian and Hungarian lands in the 12th century. The town gained in regional importance, and by the 13th century the Friesach pfennig was the standard coin used in the eastern Alps - circulated even as far as Croatia. The importance of the town diminished with the rise of the House of Habsburg, Carinthian dukes since 1335. The fortress, however, continued to be an important power basis of the Salzburg prince-archbishops throughout the Middle Ages, once again enlarged and strengthened by Leonhard von Keutschach from 1495 onwards. It nevertheless belonged to Salzburg until the secularisation of the archbishopric in 1803, when Friesach finally fell to Carinthia.
At the 2001 census Friesach had 5,335 inhabitants. Of that, 89.8% are Roman Catholic, 2.6% are Protestant and 1.5% are Muslims. 4.8% of the population is non-religious.
Objects of interest
The mediæval town around the Romanesque parish church of Saint Bartholomew and its city walls are preserved in quite good condition. From the 13th century on the Salzburg Archbishops stayed at the Fürstenhof residence. Other areas of interest include:
- Church of St. Blaise
- Dominican monastery, which contains noted medieval carvings and sculptures
- Teutonic Knights' church and hospital
- Burgruine Petersberg
Friesach has several small to medium-sized industries, including metalworking and textilemaking. Like most regions of Carinthia, the town mainly depends on tourism (such as a ruined castle and a chocolate museum). With the Teutonic Order hospital, it is also a supraregional health centre.
In 2021, the town began fulfilling much of the electricity and hot water demands by way of the largest solar farm in Austria, a nearby 5,750 square metre installation that generates 2.8 million kilowatt-hours of power per year.
At the 2009 elections, Friesach's local council (Gemeinderat) consisted of 23 members of the following parties:
Friesach is twinned with:
- Heinrich Harrer (1912 – 2006), Austrian mountaineer, sportsman, geographer, and author of the books Seven Years in Tibet (1952) and The White Spider (1959)
- Josef Bucher (born 1965), politician
- Gerda Hofstätter (born 1971), professional billiards player
- Robert Stadlober (born 1982), actor
- Jürgen Säumel (born 1984), football player
- "Dauersiedlungsraum der Gemeinden Politischen Bezirke und Bundesländer - Gebietsstand 1.1.2018". Statistics Austria. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
- "Einwohnerzahl 1.1.2018 nach Gemeinden mit Status, Gebietsstand 1.1.2018". Statistics Austria. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
- Freed, John B. "Medieval German Social History". Central European History. 25:1 (1992). 7.
- Balgaranov, Denis (16 August 2021). "Austria's biggest solar farm opens today". TheMayor.eu.