Deep within the picturesque Upper Austrian Muehlviertel, a quaint church towering over its green rolling hills houses one of the largest gothic carvings in Europe.
Fame about this gothic winged altar, the Kefermarkter Flügelaltar, had spread across the lands since its completion in the late 15th century.
Always wanting to visit the church housing this masterpiece, we headed into the dreamy hills on this glorous fall day to the sleepy town of Kefermarkt close to Freistadt.
Lord Christoph von Zellking who lived in the nearby Weinberg castle commissioned the church, which was completed in 1476. In 1490 he gave order for a winged altar. Carved out of linden wood over a period of seven years, this elaborately carved masterpiece stands of a total height of 44 feet and stretches its wings like a monstrous eagle across a 21-foot distance. The detailed superstructure depicting religious events and many catholic saints showcases an elaborate centerpiece and two side panels. These carved wood panels can be opened and closed like window shutters.
Over the centuries, this rare altarpiece has faced several challenges. After the discovery of damaging furniture beetles in 1852, restoration works have been a frequent occurrence until 1959 when the altarpiece was cleaned and impregnated for the last time. Furthermore, treatments of windowpanes lessened light intrusion to help in preventing future damage to this precious gothic workmanship.
Stepping out of the church into the most magnificant sunshine, the next attraction crowning the nearby hill called to us: Weinberg Castle.
Back in the 14th century the ruling nobility had to create an effective system of defense to ward off uprising serfs. With the invention of new weaponry, the castle was fortified with several defense towers. After fortification was further expanded in the 16th century, entrance to the castle was only possible via two drawbridges whose chain slots can still be seen today.
With its imposing central tower and surrounding fortified stonewall and deep moat, Schloss Weinberg is considered one of the most impressive Renaissance castles in Upper Austria. Its origin dating back to 1274, the fortress has been inhabited for 800 years. Since 1986 this historic bastion has been in the care of the Upper Austrian government, serving as an educational facility for music and environmental workshops.
Ambling across the drawbridge, feeling the wind through my hair, I drifted once more into a daydream; a fantasy about those knights and noblemen living behind those fortified walls. What was their daily routine? How did they live without our modern conveniences? And as I stood there taking in this majestic sight against the blue sky, I was again filled with gratefulness about living in this day and age.