Kirchenwirt Graz
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The history of Kirchenwirt

The small castle on Purgberg

In 1689, the Styrian nobleman Frank Caspar Conduzzi von Heldenfeld purchased a property on Purberg, a piece of rising ground far beyond the residential city of Graz which, at this time, was still surrounded by a city wall. Purberg – derived from "Burgberg" – is situated 469 metres above sea level, north east of the city of Graz. Conduzzi built a small castle – the Purgberg castle – with a private chapel. The chapel contained a statue of the Virgin Mary, that was originally in Rein Abbey and which quickly became an objective for Marian pilgrimages. On some Sundays and official holidays, as many as 2000 pilgrims from Hungary, Croatia and Styria made their way up to Purberg.

Because during the 17th century the journey to Purberg was still, in part, very strenuous and wearisome, Conduzzi built an inn for the pilgrims in close proximity to the castle and chapel. The establishment was later handed over to tenants who did not always run it with the welfare of their guests in mind. Thus, in 1698 the landlord Lorenz Pizenhofer was found guilty of selling watered down wine at an inflated price.
The Basilica

In 1714, Conduzzi donated the castle and chapel to the Pauline Order. During the same year, following official recognition as a place of pilgrimage, the foundation stone was laid for the construction of a church. The building work was planned and carried out by Andreas Stengg with his son Johann Georg Stengg. The first church services were held only five years later and the Emperor Karl VI arranged for the building of a road linking Graz with Mariatrost, in order to make the site more readily accessible. The shell of the church was completed in the year 1724. The final completion took, however, until 1779. Just a few years later, the Paulines had to leave Maria Trost under the terms of the Joseph reforms. The cloister and pilgrimage church became a parish church and the cloister tract was sold to a butcher and converted into stables. From 1846 until 1996 the pilgrimage site was run by Franciscans. In October 1968, the Mariatroster Declaration of the Austrian Bishops Conference regarding the Enzyklika Humanae Vitae was publicized in the Basilica. The order left the cloister in 1996 and, since then, the parish has been administered by the Graz-Seckau diocese. On the 28th October 1968 the church was designated a Basilica minor by Pope John Paul II. In the course of this, the complex underwent a comprehensive renovation.

The inn was not included in Conduzzi's donation and had already changed hands many times before it was purchased by the Pauline Order in 1744 for 13018 Gulden. The Order managed the inn itself for several years - until 1750 - after which time it was again leased out. 50 guests could be accommodated at this time and order Nr. 1772 forbade one of the tenants, Georg Rosswald, from "playing music or, under whatever pretext, providing accommodation for bad or suspicious persons of both genders". An inventory from that time provides information about the size of the guesthouse. Listed are two guest rooms, a dining room and a stately room, as well as several sleeping rooms. According to these records at least 50 persons could be accommodated.

By the middle of the 19th century, the guesthouse had become an institution and developed into a popular day trip destination for the people of Graz under the name "Joselwirt".

Fortune took a turn for the worse however on the 29th July 1863 when a fire burnt the guesthouse burnt down to its foundations. The Basilica was completely unscathed by this blaze.

In 1919, the rebuilt guesthouse was purchased by the married couple Josef and Margarete Pfeifer who - as a logical consequence of its location - renamed the establishment "Kirchenwirt". The guesthouse was remodelled and extended and the inn developed into a hotel shortly after the end of the second world war. In 1969 - 50 years after it was purchased - Josef Pfeifer II took over the running of the business. The next large scale renovation was carried out during the 1980's, followed by another in the late 1990's under Josef Pfeifer III, who since 1990 has been the third generation Pfeifer family landlord.

Our chronic

A small castle with a chapel stood on Purberg, which, for those days, lay far beyond the walled city of Graz. Franz Caspar Conduzzi von Heldenfeld purchased this property and decided to build a chapel dedicated to the mother of God here. On some Sundays and public holidays, the number of persons making a pilgrimage to this new place of grace reached 2000 pilgrims from Styria, Hungary and Croatia.

Franz Caspar Conduzzi decided to construct an inn to cater for the steadily growing number of visitors which was later leased out. Not every tenant was able to live up to what was expected of him - in 1698, Lorenz Pizenhofer was, for example, found guilty of selling watered down wine at an inflated price.

On the 8th August, the Pauline Order receives Purberg as a present and applied for permission to build a cloister and a church there.

The foundation stone for the construction of the magnificent Baroque church "Maria Trost" is laid under Emperor Karl VI. According to contemporary sources, more than 100000 pilgrims were already coming each year at this time.

After changing hands many times, the guesthouse was purchased by the Pauline Cloister for 13018 Gulden, which ran it until 1750. Guests could be accommodated at his time, even if there weren't enough beds for them all because "sleep chairs" were also provided.

Under the terms of the leasing agreement, the tenant, Georg Rosswald was "at all times forbidden to play music or, under whatever pretext, to provide accommodation for bad or suspicious persons of both genders".

On the 29th July the property, which at this time was known as "Joselwirt" is destroyed by a devastating fire. It was immediately rebuilt. The pilgrimage church remained unscathed by this unfortunate accident.

Josef and Margarethe Pfeifer purchase the guesthouse and rename it "Kirchenwirt".

Remodelling and extension work lasting four years commences.

Josef Pfeifer II takes over the business on "Kirchenwirt's" 50th anniversary. Continual modernization is continued, as is work to upgrade the standard of the restaurant and hotel.

Josef Pfeifer III continues the tradition and to endeavour to achieve the satisfaction of the guests.

Hotel Pfeifer Kirchenwirt
Kirchplatz 9
8044 Graz, Österreich

T: +43 316 3911120
F: +43 316 39111249

G: +47° 6' 25.85", +15° 29' 33.35"

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