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History of Schlosshotel St. Georgen
With just a little bit of uncovered boldness it is prohibited to claim that the house Sandhof is older than the Carinthian federal capital. When Klagenfurt was newly arranged during the age of duke Bernhard von Spanheim briefly before 1200 south of the river Glan (till than the settlement was north of the river Glan, at the south-facing slope of the Spitalberg), already the existence of a manor at the place of the today’s castle can be assumed. For the church of St. Georgen am Sandhof is first documentary mentioned in 1216, and for one thing this circumstance doesn´t exclude that it already existed before, for another thing it might not have been built in an ‘empty landscape’, but close to an already existing manor. However, the church didn´t have its epithet ‘Sandhof’ at that time, but was named ‘St. Georgen undern Zolperg’, meaning ‘under the mountain of Maria Saal’.

Specialised literature allows us to conclude, that an ‘Edlinger’ was living in the ‘Haus am Sand’ at that time. The ‘Edlinger’ were members of the yeomanry, who had certain privileges compared to the illiberal folks, who were frequently obliged for services that correlated with the jurisdiction.  However the ‘castle precincts’ of St. Georgen under the mountain of Maria Saal can only be ensured in the later Middle Ages and except for the reference nothing more is known about it. It is remarkably though, that the commodities of the ‘Edlinger’ and the jurisdiction that laid upon them not necessarily required the existence of a castle, but that they, specifically in the area around Klagenfurt, consisted of a manor, the domicile of a nobleman or a palace with the estates that belonged to it.

Of the high medieval ‘Haus am Sand’ nothing exists today. Starting in the 16th century, documents that recorded a frequent changing of possession have been preserved: in 1550 it belonged –still in its medieval state of construction- to the family Lanzinger and later a Margarete Lanzinger married a Christof von Haus or Hauß; their son Hans inherited the estate. Along this way, the name ‘Sandhof’ is authenticated for the first time, to be precise in the year of 1574. Hans von Hauß is regarded to be the constructor of the post medieval building; a stone crest on the right side of the chapel entrance from 1584 tells from him. Not irrelevant for Klagenfurt and thus also for the Sandhof was, that in that century remarkable doings occurred in Carinthia: After Klagenfurt had suffered a lot in 1514 and became impoverished, the Emperor Maximilian conveyed it to the representatives of the nobility, who emerged throughout from the former ‘Edlingers’ like those of St. Georgen, and to representatives of the clergy. This occurrence is an exception in the German history of law; thus the Emperor avoided his obligation, to help the taxable citizens with the reconstruction.  

On the 31st October, 1599 the widow of Hans von Hauß sold the Sandhof to the regional court, precisely to the procurator Dominikus Häckl and already three years later, on the 9th March, 1602 he sold the manor to Hans Reinwald zu Rojach. On the 22nd of June, 1630, Gottfried von Schrattenbach eventually purchased the Sandhof and established the Deutsch-Ordens-Kommende St. Georgen in 1635. In 1652 the chapel probably was renovated by Andreas von Staudach and 1681 a crest of the benefactor was fixed on the topmost altar step by Johann Jakob von Katzianer. The Sandhof remains to be in possession of the order or further members of the order – including such outstanding personalities like Guldo Graf von Starhemberg, who is regarded as ‘Saviour of Vienna from the Turkish’ – until the 20th century.

When Johann Weichard Valvasor, a topographer of the 17th century, etched the castle of St. Georgen at the Sandhof in copper in 1688, he refered to it as ‘Commenda’: It lies in the bottom quarter of Carinthia, not even an hour from Klagenfurt in a high place; has a merry appearance and a wonderful garden. Is early named Castle Sandhof and belonged to a Sir Reibald; but now it´s become to a Commenda of the German Order.

‘Four years back’, Valvasor wrote in the year of 1688, ‘the Sir Hans Jacob, Graf Kazianer von Kazenstein, was Commendator alida.”
In the 17th century, the owners extended the castle, in the 19th century it was sold to private persons for economic reasons. It was purchase from a family named Reyer, modernized and enlarged by an annex in the right angle as well as a biaxial connection to the previously detached chapel. Today, due to a revitalisation by the owner Dr. Helfried and Ursula Kuess, the Sandhof is in such a good condition, as it hasn’t been during the whole 20th century. Dominant is the one-storey building above the rectangular layout, which exhibits an open arcade loggia in the south-west; the eight-axle façade dates back to the 19th century and from the original two stepped gables one is hidden by the annex. The northern wing of the house, which stood desolate after it was hit by a bomb in the 2nd world war (the Sandhof is in close proximity to the airport of Klagenfurt), has been re-build. From the historical continuance a sheltered majolica Madonna relief and a double crest above the main entrance, the already mentioned stone crest and the crest of the benefactor, as well as the remarkable altar in the chapel St. Elizabeth and other preciousness are preserved.

As part of the revitalisation the earthly remains of earlier inhabitants were brought to light: In the ground of the chapel three graves, probably from former owners, have been found just before Easter 1992. They are examined by an excavation team of the Carinthian State Museum under the command of Dr. Franz Glaser at the time of the printing of this paper. The remains of an approx. 180 centimetre tall man, a woman and probably a child may prove preserved records about funerals of members of the German Order, but they don´t enable an identification at the moment; before the anthropological examinations are concluded it is assumed, that the male skeleton is Baron von Kulmer, knight of the German Order of St. Georgen am Sandhof and Friesach. In the graves that were looted already –probably during the occupation of the French in the beginning of the 19th century- 50 gilded bronze heads, a silk cross of the Order and the remains of cords have been found; these come from the uniform of a knight of the German Order, which traditionally consisted of a white coat with a black cross and its red vest. Apart from that, graves of knights of the German Order have been found in a neighbouring church in 1983.
Today the former ‘Haus am Sand’ is a hotel with exclusive character. Its harmonious cubic capacity is not only accessible for the general public, it existence is also ensured for the next decades.

On the 1st April, 2010, Kurt Georg Unzeitig acquires and with the 17th Mai the hotel was established.

Robert Gratzer
 

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