This stunning holiday region in the charming stretch of land between Pinggau and St. Lorenzen invites you to stay a while. Here you will find endlessly beautiful nature and the holiday resorts of Friedberg and Dechantskirchen. Tradition, tranquillity, hospitality and an enticing landscape make holiday dreams come true in the Wechselland. Simply stroll through the meadows and forests and enjoy the silence and fresh air in this unique part of Eastern Styria.
The densely wooded hills promote magnificent fauna and flora in this natural environment, which is truly therapeutic for city dwellers and those who know how to enjoy life. A stroll through the Wechselland is enough to remind anyone what silence sounds like.
A stay in the Wechselland can be further refined with a touch of culture, living traditions, Styrian hospitality and recreational fun. The town of Friedberg wins guests over with its medieval centre and one of Styria’s most charming main squares. Its healing climate and number of medical specialists have turned Friedberg into an epicentre for health. Pilgrims are in good hands at the Maria Hasel pilgrimage church, which looks back upon a long history.
Fruit – predominantly apples and pears - has been grown across the Wechselland for many centuries. Sample the homemade cider and a wide choice of juices at one of the region’s rustic cider taverns and refuel with a hearty "Brettljause" (cold meat and cheese board)! Delicious ice cream, refreshing drinks and typical Eastern Styrian dishes can be found at the many eateries across the region.
Activities and leisure amidst nature
The delightful hiking, cycling and riding area in the eastern corner of Styria charms with little and large highlights that guarantee unforgettable holiday experiences. Each of the region’s towns has something special to offer its guests. Pinggau stands out as a recreational paradise with its natural bathing lake and leisure centre. What all towns have in common is their unmistakeable landscape and charming hospitality.
In the Garden of Austria
Traditional summer visitors have found the right spot in St. Lorenzen am Wechsel, one of Eastern Styria’s prettiest floral villages. A sunny location and mild climate are ideal for a stay along the Styrian Flower Road. And at the "Aerosolium" outdoor inhalatorium you can reap the benefits of inhaling the natural aromas of pine branches.
The municipality of Friedberg lies on the southern slopes of the Wechselgebirge, close to where Styria meets Lower Austria and Burgenland, and northeast of the Hartberg-Fürstenfeld district. The small town has long been an insider’s tip for a classic summer retreat. From here you have a wonderful panoramic view of Eastern Styria and South Burgenland‘s green, untouched hills. Hospitable establishments invite you to savour and browse in the lovely historical town of Friedberg. The parish church and town gate are well preserved testimonies to Friedberg’s past, popular amongst visitors and a significant contribution towards the old town flair.
The town does not just have an impressive historical centre, but is also home to the Thonet Museum, which attracts art enthusiasts. Friedberg’s outdoor pool, which is particularly popular amongst locals on warm summer days, is also worth a visit. Not far from town lies the Bärengraben forest, which the Friedberger flock to for relaxing walks through nature.
Friedberg was founded in 1194 by Babenberg Duke Leopold V, who had taken King Richard I of England captive on his way home from a crusade and invested the ransom into the development of towns. Thus it was not just Friedberg that was built in this time, but also Wiener Neustadt, which a large proportion of the money was invested into. Even before Friedberg‘s official foundation there was a castle to protect the Wechselstraße in today’s district of Ortgraben, which was surrounded by a village.
The first documented mention of the town was in 1245 as "fridberc". In the Middle Ages there was an important castle complex in town, which was later extended into a double castle, but has since been removed. Nowadays, a widely visible war memorial can be found in its place. Even when the former castle had been turned into a town, Friedberg had the function of monitoring traffic across the Wechselpass and protecting the settlers from the attacks by Hungary to the east. Its position as a border town had consequences for Friedberg on multiple occasions, and the town was partially destroyed by the Hungarians in 1418 and completely destroyed by the Turks in 1532. The town also suffered severe damage in 1708 in the wake of the Kuruc war and there was a catastrophic fire in 1795. Friedberg never enjoyed an economic boom, but the town was home to around 30 master clothiers for almost 200 years, who produced undyed cloth for the general public and dyed cloth for the military. Since the beginning of the last century, Friedberg’s infrastructure has been developed to a great extent. With the construction of the railway and A2 south motorway the town was connected to the transport network and is now easy to reach.
The shady forest invites you to take a walk whatever the season. Two life-size bear carvings are a reminder of the legend that bears really did roam here once upon a time.
The Hilmtor lies at 996 m above sea level. It used to be the assembly point for the animals that spent summer grazing on the alpine pastures. When strong winds occur in Dechantskirchen or Friedberg and at the first signs of winter, locals joke that someone has left the Hilmtor gate open again.
Thonet Museum Friedberg
There are more than 80 exhibits, including the 1851 World Exhibition table, the only Liechtenstein chair, the legendary post office savings bank chair by Otto Wagner and elegant Vienna Secession pieces. Opening hours: Sun 2 – 4 pm, guided tours upon request
Maria Hasel pilgrimage church, Pinggau
The church that was first documented in 1377, extended between 1703 and 1706 and fitted with frescos by Johann Cyriak Hackhofer is an inviting Baroque place of pilgrimage. The Gothic Pietà at the high altar, the Baroque pulpit and the impressive sculptures of the crucifixion and descent from the cross in the side chapels (by Peter Paul Rubens) are particularly worth seeing. The chapel with its healing spring (built 1696, grotto with stone Pietà from 1717) is a spiritual retreat and place of energy for prayers. There is a pilgrimage on the 13th of each month at 7:30 pm.