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Villach ( ; , ) is the second largest city in Carinthiamarker in the south of Austriamarker, at the Drava River and represents an important traffic junction for Austria and the whole Alpe-Adria region. , the population is 58,480.

History

The oldest human traces found in Villach date back to 3500 BC. A lot of Roman artifacts were found there, as it was close to an important Roman road called the Römerweg. A document mentions a bridge in what is today Villach in 878, and the settlement across the bridge was given market town status in 1060, though Villach is first mentioned in records in 1240. It got its first mayor in the 16th century.

On January 25, 1348, an earthquakemarker destroyed a big part of Villach followed by another earthquake in 1690. There were also several fires in Villach which destroyed a lot of buildings.

In 1759 Empress Maria Theresa of Austria formally purchased Villach, as well as much of Carinthia. During the Napoleonic Wars, Villach was part of the Illyrian provinces of the French Empire from 1809 until 1813.

The Südbahn railway finally reached Villach in 1864, providing growth and expansion.

During the period of the German Anschluss (1938-45) when Austria was annexed to Nazi Germany, the mayor of Villach was Oskar Kraus, an enthusiastic Nazi. A memorial for the 1919 border conflictmarker caused controversy when it was inaugurated in 2002, as Kraus, who had not been especially prominent in the conflict, was the only person named.

During World War II, the town was bombed 37 times by the Allies. About 42,500 bombs killed 300 people and damaged 85% of the buildings, nevertheless the city quickly recovered.

Today, Villach is a bustling city with commerce and recreation, yet it retains its historic background.

Geography

Villach railway station.

Geographical position

The city is located west of the Klagenfurt Basin at the confluence of the Drau and the Gail Riversmarker. Nearby countries are Sloveniamarker with a direct line to the border of 11 km (6.8 mi) and Italymarker with a distance of 14.5 km (9 mi) respectively. Slovenia could be accessed via the Karawanken Autobahn (A11) and the Karawanken Tunnelmarker, Italy by the Süd Autobahn (A2).

The municipal area borders on or surrounds several lakes, including Lake Ossiachmarker, Lake Faakmarker, Silbersee, Vassacher See, Magdalensee, and St. Leonharder See.

Villach is surrounded by mountains of the Alps which are used for skiing in winter and hiking in summer.

Structure

The following sections belong to Villach:
  • Bogenfeld, Dobrova, Drautschen, Drobollach am Faaker See, Duel, Egg am Faaker See, Goritschach, Graschitz, Gratschach, Greuth, Gritschach, Großsattel, Großvassach, Heiligen Gestade, Heiligengeist, Kleinsattel, Kleinvassach, Kratschach, Kumitz, Landskron, Maria Gail, Mittewald ober dem Faaker See, Mittewald ob Villach, Neufellach, Neulandskron, Obere Fellach, Oberfederaun, Oberschütt, Oberwollanig, Pogöriach, Prossowitsch, Rennstein, Serai, St. Andrä, St. Georgen, St. Leonhard, St. Magdalen, St. Michael, St. Niklas an der Drau, St. Ruprecht, St. Ulrich, Tschinowitsch, Turdanitsch, Untere Fellach, Unterfederaun, Unterschütt, Unterwollanig, Urlaken, Villach-Auen, Villach-Innere Stadt, Villach-Lind, Villach-Seebach-Wasenboden, Villach-St. Agathen und Perau, Villach-St. Martin, Villach-Völkendorf, Villach-Warmbad-Judendorf, Weißenbach, Zauchen


In 1905 a part of the municipal area St. Martin was incorporated. In 1973 the city area was further enlarged through the incorporation of Landskron, Maria Gail and Fellach.

Politics

Municipal council

The municipal council (Gemeinderat) consists of 45 members, with the mayor as president, and following the 2009 elections is composed of:



City government

The city government of Villach (Stadtsenat) consists of seven members. It is chaired by the mayor, who is directly elected by the people. The other members—two vice-mayors and four town councillors—are appointed by the municipal council, with party affiliations according to the election results.

  • Mayor Helmut Manzenreiter, SPÖ
  • First vice-mayor Karl-Heinz Evers, SPÖ
  • Second vice-mayor Mag. Gerda Sandriesser, SPÖ
  • Councillor Mag. Hilde Schaumberger, SPÖ
  • Councillor Harald Sobe, SPÖ
  • Councillor Walter Lang, FPÖ
  • Councillor LAbg. KR Helmut Hinterleitner, ÖVP


In the March 2009 elections, Helmut Manzenreiter, mayor since 1987, was reelected with 56.89 per cent of the votes cast.

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Villach is twinned with:



Festivals

There are several festivals throughout the year:

  • The carnival in Villach (which starts on November 11 and ends on March 4)
  • The arts and crafts festival (with self made goods)
  • The New Orleansmarker festival
  • The streets-art festival (displays performances of artists and singers)
  • The "Villacher Kirchtag" (a kermis spanning a whole week in summer and ends on August's first Saturday with a notorious fireworks show)
  • Performances on a stage beside the Drau


Notable citizens



References

  1. Lisa Rettl, Werner Koroschitz, "Ein korrekter Nazi: Oskar Kraus, ns-oberbürgermeister von Villach", Drava (2006), ISBN 3-85435-501-7
  2. ORF Kärnten, "Oskar Kraus - ein korrekter Nazi"
  3. Wahlergebnisse 2009
  4. Unser Bürgermeister - Helmut Manzenreiter personal website (in German)


Gallery

Image:Villachfromalpinestrasse.jpg|Villach from the Alpenstraße (Oct. 2005)Image:Villachshopping.JPG|Main squareImage:Villach.JPG|Drau River - downstream (2004)Image:Villach1.jpg|bridge towards the center (2009)Image:Villach2.jpg|Drau River - downstream (2009)

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