Being Kitzbühel’s highest profane building, constructed to provoke veneration and symbolize its power and its profound institutional importance, the detached Berggericht, in specific, has been shaping the historic townscape ever since.
Like Kitzbühel’s entire medieval town center, the 16th century Berggericht, the historical mining court, alongside the 17th century Lacknerhaus captivate with a dramatic figurativeness, and define the local architecture, characteristic for its sturdy profane buildings. Together with the 14th century High Gothic Saint Catherine’s Church, the three buildings form the impressive core of Kitzbühel’s old town as a conjoined ensemble. Being Kitzbühel’s highest profane building, constructed to provoke veneration and symbolize its power and its profound institutional importance, the detached Berggericht, in specific, has been shaping the historic townscape ever since. As it has served as mining court, for three centuries, this official building was always a highly influential force determining the town’s economical, cultural, social and political climate. Responsible for the entire Kitzbühel region’s silver extraction—which contributed significantly to the wealth of the town during the Middle Ages, it speaks for the extraordinary relevance of the Berggericht.
Ever since the EUROPEAN HERITAGE PROJECT began to acquire these two heritageprotected buildings in 2012, the old Berggericht, that stood vacant for over a decade leading to a massive decay in building stock, has changed its dilapidated and depressingly grey livery.
Its originally stupendous late Gothic impression has finally replaced smashed windows and birds nesting in the roof. Embracing all historically sound details that have been either augmented or kept over the course of centuries: from Gothic arched ceiling, Renaissance frescoes adorning the facade to Baroque windows. The Lacknerhaus, historically a private residence, which in its present state is absolutely uninhabitable and derelict, has unfortunately become the town center’s „eyesore“ throughout the years. After wide-ranging bureaucratic procedures, the building’s extensive revitalization is finally in its implementation stages; soon to follow the example of the Berggericht.
With the acquisition of these two buildings, the EUROPEAN HERITAGE PROJECT has implemented a process to make two of historical Kitzbühel’s landmarks shine again in respectable splendor, to discreetly dovetail with the old town’s facade ensemble, reflecting and accentuating the history and pride of this world-renowned Alpine skying resort, that has been so significantly shaped by mining.
Since 1935 the tax office of the city had been housed in the former Berggericht building. In 2002, however, due to high maintenance costs, it was decided to move the local authority to a new building outside the historic city centre. As a result, the Federal Government decided to auction off the listed building. However, the city of Kitzbühel, one of the bidders at the auction, was outbid by a local entrepreneur, to the considerable displeasure of the municipality.
The new owner had intended to erect an elevator visible from the outside of the building, which the town and the monument preservation authorities did not want to approve.
With the aim of putting the authorities under pressure, the new owner abandoned all restoration work and refrained from carrying out any necessary maintenance work himself; all that was done was to carry out obligatory building security measures at regular intervals in order to avoid endangering passers-by.
After 10 years of acute and careless negligence had caused substantial damage to the listed building, and in particular to the Gothic vaults, the EUROPEAN HERITAGE PROJECT became aware of the situation and was finally able to intervene by persuading the owner of the building to sell the building to the EUROPEAN HERITAGE PROJECT in 2012.
A number of minor successes had already been achieved during the implementation phase of the restoration measures at the Berggericht at the beginning of 2013.
Having become aware of this and impressed by the close collaboration between the EUROPEAN HERITAGE PROJECT, the Bundesdenkmalamt and the municipality of Kitzbühel, the then owner of the Lacknerhaus contacted the EUROPEAN HERITAGE PROJECT. As the owner at the time could not afford to renovate the listed building, he offered it to the organisation for purchase after a consultation.
At that time, the Lacknerhaus was not being used, with the exception of a pub leased on the ground floor. Due to the vacancy that lasted for decades, the building was correspondingly dilapidated; the roof truss and all pipes were particularly affected.
REAL ESTATE FACTS & FIGURES
Kitzbühel is located in the north-eastern Tyrol, about 95 km east of the provincial capital Innsbruck in the Leukental on the Kitsbüheler Ache, in the middle of the Kitzbühler Alps. The sophisticated city is well-known internationally for being one of the most important alpine winter sports resorts. However, the town also has a history of mining, which is what made the town so important and rich from the Middle Ages onwards. The mining court and the Lacknerhaus still bear witness to this today.
The uniqueness of the Berggericht, built at the beginning of the 16th century, is due not only to its distinctive history but also to its special location. The building was not structurally integrated into the row of houses, as is common in the rest of the medieval town centre of Kitzbühel; instead, it stands freely and is the second tallest building after St. Catherine’s Church, with which it forms a historically significant ensemble, as does the Lacknerhaus, also acquired by the EUROPEAN HERITAGE PROJECT.
The former Gothic four-storey administration building has a floor area of almost 800 square metres and is 24 metres high. The adjoining Lacknerhaus, which also has four storeys and a rectangular floor plan in its core built at the beginning of the 17th century, has a living and usable area of 350 square metres.
City Ensemble Kitzbühel
The name Chizbuhel was first mentioned in a Chiemsee document around 1178; Chizzo refers to a Bavarian clan and Bühel to the geographical location of the settlement on a hill. A hundred years later, a source attests to the bailiwick of Bamberg Abbey in Kicemgespuchel, and the town charter of 1271 mentions Chizzingenspuehel.
Kitzbühel came to Upper Bavaria in 1255 with the first Bavarian division of the land. Subsequently, Duke Ludwig II (1229-1294) granted Kitzbühel the town charter on 6 June 1271 and the town was secured with a fortified wall. As Kitzbühel established itself as a trade and marketplace in the following centuries due to its location between Pass Thurn and Chiemgau, it grew steadily and was spared from warlike conflicts. The marriage of Margarete Maultasch, Duchess of Tyrol-Götz (1318-1369) with the Bavarian Duke Ludwig the Brandenburg (1315-1361) in 1342 temporarily united Kitzbühel with Tyrol, making the city a Bavarian protectorate until the death of Ludwig. After the Schärdinger Peace in 1369, the area was ceded in its entirety to Bavaria. Due to the Bavarian divisions, Kufstein became part of the Landshut line of the Wittelsbach family.
During this time, mining in Kitzbühel was pushed forward systematically and a comprehensive mining law was enacted which would later become important for the entire Bavarian duchy. In 1504, Kitzbühel was, for the time being, permanently annexed to Tyrol by Emperor Maximillian I (1459-1519) in return for his Cologne arbitration, which ended the Landau War of Succession – a feud between Bavaria and the Palatinate in 1505.
In the judicial districts of Kitzbühel, Kufstein and Rattenberg, however, Ludwig des Bayern’s land law, which had already existed since 1346, continued to apply until the 19th century, with the result that the three areas mentioned occupied a special legal position within Tyrol.
Maximilian pledged Kitzbühel, and so it was under the local rule of the Counts of Lamberg at the end of the 16th century, until the last remnants of feudal rule were solemnly abolished on 1 May 1840. The wars of the 18th and 19th centuries passed the town by, although Kitzbüheler also took part in the Tyrolean liberation struggles. Kitzbühel was once again part of Bavaria when Emperor Franz I (1768-1835) ceded Tyrol to Bavaria in the Peace of Pressburg in 1805.
After the fall of Napoleon (1769-1821), the region was reunited with Austria at the Vienna Congress in 1815.
When Emperor Franz Joseph (1830-1916) finally regulated the confused constitutional conditions and the Salzburg-Tiroler railway was completed in 1875, the city experienced a boom in economy and industry. In the 20th century, Kitzbühel became a place of the rich and beautiful, where many celebrities lived.
Kitzbühel was fortunate to be spared destruction during the First and Second World Wars, which is why the historic city centre around St. Catherine’s Church, including the medieval city walls, is still preserved today.
The Berggericht was the prestigious administrative building responsible for mining, which in the Middle Ages had contributed significantly to the wealth of the town of Kitzbühel. This is why the building is still one of the most important pillars in the history of Kitzbühel.
Tyrol was one of the few Alpine countries to have silver and copper ores that were worth mining. As a result, the economic and political power of the princes grew. The rise of the Habsburgs to world power at the turn of the 15th to the 16th century would not have been possible without the metal from the Tyrolean ores. Alongside the wealth of ore in the Schwaz region, Kitzbühel was the most important mining centre. The town owes its importance and rise to mining.
The prestigious secular building was first mentioned in a document in 1535 as the home of Ruepprecht Humbpühler and his wife Martha Wonnherrin. In the following period, there were several short-term owners, whereby a certain Sigmundt Neissl, also known as Neussl, was named as a new owner for the first time in 1543. In 1562, the “Neisslhaus” was leased by the mining authority as the seat of the Bergrichter and purchased from him in 1587. From then on, the mining law was exercised according to the Codex Maximilianeus Bavaricus Civilis, which was also commonly known as Bavarian Land Law.
The Berggericht was a court responsible for matters relating to mining law, arbitration and the investigation of accidents in mining associations, supervising concessions and representing the legal rights of the sovereigns. For example, the mining areas of Röhrerbühel and Jochberg, in particular the local copper and silver ore mines, as well as the further processing of the extracted metals and the sale of the products, were subject to the Berggericht of Kitzbühel. The Bergrichter (mining judge) and the Berggeschworenen (mining jurors) as jurors, as well as the Berggerichtsschreiber (mining court clerk), were at the top. The function of Bergrichter was assumed either by the Bergamtsverwalter ( Mining Office Administrator), the Bergvogt (Mining Bailiff) or Bergmeister (Mining Master).
The mining jurors also supervised the ore mines as well as the Pingen that resulted from mining. Further aides of the mining court were the Forstmeister the Fronbote, the Fröner and the Silberwechsler (Silverchanger). The Fronbote was responsible for the execution of the court judgments and for other messenger services. The Fröner and the Silberwechsler had to meticulously document and check the duties, the corvée and the bills payable to the provincial princes.
The following Bergrichter are mentioned in several documents throughout the history of the building: Carl Ruedl in 1631, Mathias Undterrainer in 1645 and Sebastian Undterrainer in 1671. A Georg Budina is mentioned as a Bergrichter and Waldmeister in 1692.
After the abolition of the Kitzbühel Berggericht at the end of the 18th century, the house – still called the Berggerichtshaus – was the official seat of the Kitzbühel Berggericht-Substitution and of the Kitzbüheler Waldamt and, from 1818 on, probably only the seat of the Waldamt and belonged to the Forst-Ärar. As a result, it became the seat of the tax office from 1936 until the tax office moved in 2002.
The Lacknerhaus on Hinterstadt No. 17, named after its last owner Jakob Lackner, can be dated back to the beginning of the 16th century. Like the house in Hinterstadt No. 19, the Lacknerhaus has belonged to the house on Vorderstadt No. 20 since the beginning of the 17th century, as can be seen on historical town plans drawn around 1620.
When the leather master Veit Koidl acquired the building in 1819, it was separated from Vorderstadt No. 20 and became Hinterstadt No. 17. From then on, the simple late Gothic town house experienced a lively change of ownership and inhabitants. The next owners were Maria Koidl in 1827 and her Oberwalder heirs in 1856. In the same year, the Stöckl building, as it was called at that time, passed to Bartlme Stangasser, who had the so-called “Lintnerhausstöckl” rebuilt and enlarged within this framework, whilst retaining the 16th century core. In 1857, Anton Seiwald, the bricklayer of the “Klosterfrauenhaus”, leased parts of the premises of today’s Lacknerhaus. A change in ownership is recorded in the same year, with the acquisition of the building by the beltmaker and gold worker Anton Webersberger. In 1889, his wife Magdalena and his daughter Rosina, who married Ferdinand Pöll in 1891, inherited the building. In 1911, the house was sold to the Landeshypothekenanstalt until it was bought two years later by Katharina Nagele. The property belonged to the Nagele family until 1967, when the innkeeper Jakob Lackner acquired ownership; the house is named after him today.
Reconstruction, around 1620
THINGS TO KNOW & KURIOSITIES
The Berggericht as the highest authority
At the time of the witch hunts, which had also spread to Tyrol in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Berggericht was not just the authority in charge of the usual procedural rules but was the court where numerous alleged witches were summoned and even sentenced to death by the Kitzbühel-based sheep judge.
Two executioners had been employed in Tyrol since 1497, each with an official residence in Hall in North Tyrol, to which Kitzbühel also belonged, and Meran in South Tyrol. As was the case in many other jurisdictions, the bodies of those executed in the Tyrol courts were either left hanging on the gallows for years as a deterrent or tied to a wheel. The gallows were a clear symbol of authority and the form of justice they exercised. While the authorities increasingly developed executions as demonstrations of their power and did not want people to participate in them, the people in turn turned punitive ceremonies and executions into popular festivals, at which they not only witnessed the punishment of a criminal, but also participated in a sacrificial offering to purify society. Executees were regularly buried in unconsecrated ground, often in the immediate vicinity of the gallows. The explicit arrangement of the burial of the executed at the gallows or at a pre-determined place or of the ashes of the executed, is also connected with the supposedly strong magical effect associated with their remains.
However, these places of execution became superfluous in 1787, when the death penalty was abolished in Austria for the ordinary criminal jurisdiction with the introduction of the Josephinic Penal Code. However, in 1795 – after the death of Joseph II (1741-1790) – the death penalty was reintroduced. Most of the old places of execution, to which Kitzbühel belonged, however, were not used again. From this time on, executions were only carried out at the courts in Innsbruck and Bolzano.
Constitutio Criminalis Carolina, 1716
As repeatedly depicted by the architect, painter and Kitzbühler Alfons Walde (1891-1958) in his works of art, which were created at the beginning until the middle of the 20th century, the rooftops of the Tyrolean city are particularly eye-catching. Seen from above, the characteristic arch of the old town houses in Kitzbühel looks like a complete roof landscape. This was also captured in photography and art during the 1900s when there was new interest in the alpine world. Walde impressively captured its constructive charm after Andreas Faistenberger (1649-1735) had captured Kitzbühel three centuries earlier, as one of the first Tyrolean cities, in the tradition of Renaissance views from a bird’s eye view.
The 14th century High Gothic Church of St. Catherine, with its high, pointed tower, is already particularly prominent in these aerial photographs as the core of the medieval town centre. However, the former Berggericht, in the immediate vicinity of the church, has also always been a striking eye-catcher.
The mighty, free-standing, four-storey building with a saddle roof rises above a rectangular ground plan. It is the highest secular building in Kitzbühel’s city centre. All four corners of the building are characterised by the bevelled chamfers that reach up to the window height of the ground floor. The facades are unstructured and characterised by an irregular arrangement of arbours. On the gable side facing the rear of the town, the two outer left arbours jut out. A two-storey wide bay window, which extends over the second and third upper floors, is inserted into the corner formed in this way. There are three coupled window arbours on the eastern front. A square, stone framed original window from the 16th century is still preserved in the central arbour on the ground floor. There is a high, sloping arched portal in the centre of the western front. The interior of the building is accessed via a vestibule, which is characterised in particular by its impressive late-Gothic barrel vault, decorated with lunettes and ridges, which has largely been preserved in its original state and adorns almost the entire ceiling. The four upper floors are accessible via the vaulted staircases on the right. The interior has other original Gothic vaults on the first and second floors. Conversions, especially on the upper floors, were carried out in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Gothic ogival windows on the ground floor are a further special feature, making the vestibule particularly impressive and attractive.
If the building in its present state is compared with architectural drawings and plans from around 1620, the ground plan and the number of storeys correspond. However, the gable was still made of wood at that time. The six-arbour main front had a three-storey, three-sided polygonal bay window with tent roof and storey separating cornices in the second arbour from the right.
The round arch portal was also in the middle of the front. The fourth arbour from the left carried a wide bay window resting on consoles on the second floor. The two left arbours, which were moved closer together, clearly jut out. Only three windows can be seen on the southern side front. The rear front is partially covered by the tower of St. Catherine’s Church. Here, a window arbour is shown on the left of the tower; to the right of it, two arbours that are closer to each other can be seen. The last structural changes, including the erection of various light walls, took place in around 1963 and resulted in the two upper floors no longer having any original building substance in their interior.
Due to the historical separation of the Kitzbüheler Vorderstadt and Hinterstadt, the former “Lintnerhausstöckl”, today’s Lacknerhaus, was created and presents itself architecturally, as a sort of twin building, as an extension of the original town house. It is therefore a later extension of the building in the Vorderstadt, which was built at the beginning of the 17th century. The window in the inner courtyard still bears witness to this unusual architectural history. The four-storey corner building with its rust-red façade, which, like the Berggericht, is situated on the square in front of St. Catherine’s Church, is characterised by its dramatic figurativeness, which is so typical of the local angular and massive architecture of secular buildings. With a rectangular ground plan and covered by a saddle roof, the simple building is characterised by its main front, which has six window arbours, of which the third opening from the left is a round arch portal. Inside, there are majestic barrel vaults that lend a certain generosity to the rooms.
“Kitzbühel” by Alfons Walde, 1930
“Kitzbühel im Schnee” by Alfons Walde, ca. 1919
Restored gothic vault
Courtyard of the Lacknerhaus in todays condition
STRUCTURAL CONDITION AT TIME OF ACQUISITION
At the time of the acquisition by the EUROPEAN HERITAGE PROJECT in 2012, after a decade of no maintenance, the Berggericht was in an extremely neglected state. The vacancy caused massive frost damage to the masonry, load-bearing wooden structures and pipes, as the building remained unheated for the entire period of 2002 and 2012. In addition, considerable construction shortcomings occurred as a result of conversion work in 1963. For example, the entire structure of the building had suffered considerable alteration, for example through numerous room partitions with lightweight walls, enlarged window openings or the installation of plastic windows. Unfortunately, the third and fourth floors in particular were affected; there was no original building fabric left, including the roof and the roof truss.
When the EUROPEAN HERITAGE PROJECT acquired the Lacknerhaus in 2013, the entire building fabric was in a ruinous state. With the exception of the ground floor, in which a restaurant was located until the acquisition, the Stadthaus had stood completely empty for several decades. Moreover, the former owner had been unable to carry out any restoration or renovation work due to a lack of financial resources.
The desolate condition of the façade had long been criticised, but the interior of the building presented a much sadder picture than the residents of Kitzbühel had suspected:
From leaking to smashed windows, dilapidated or partially missing pipes, a roof truss at risk of collapse, water and frost damage as well as pest infestation, the building was not only an unattractive sight, it was also completely dilapidated.
RESTORATION AND CONSERVATION MEASUREMENTS
The vacant building was subject to decay until it was acquired by EUROPEAN HERITAGE PROJECT in 2012. When the permit for all extensive restoration and conversion measures was finally granted in the following year, the old building fabric was renovated, the construction mistakes of the past were eradicated, and the original condition of the building was able to be largely restored.
Special attention was paid to the scaling down and reduction of the door and window openings, which were carried out during conversions in the 1960s in order to bring the characteristic Kitzbühel wall back into the foreground. Unsuitable, retrofitted plastic windows were replaced by historically accurate reproductions. It was also possible to restore the door frames, and replicas of the wind shutters were attached to the front of the façade, according to the original model from around 1620.
Furthermore, the rooms on the first and second floors as well as on the ground floor were drastically reconstructed, with retrofitted lightweight walls being removed in order to reconstruct the original historical condition.
However, this was no longer possible on the two upper floors, including the roof truss, as there was no original building fabric left.
However, it was decided to replace the modern tin roof with a reconstructed wooden shingle roof, just as it was in its original state in the 16th century.
During the restoration of the damaged and very dirty façade, it was decided to additionally reconstruct the Trompe-l’œils, which once decorated the building, in the Mannerist style, as well as the traditional ventilation paintings.
The core of the restoration work was the conservation of the Gothic mesh vaults on the ground floor and the first two floors.
The fragile construction was repaired with filling material and the cracked and burst plaster and wall painting were repaired in many places. The original wooden and stone slab floors were also repaired meticulously.
As the Berggericht had not been used due to the vacancy between 2002 and 2011 and was therefore unheated during this period, there was considerable frost damage to the pipes and beams of the roof truss. This damage had to be repaired on a large scale and all pipes had to be re-laid. Beyond that, the foundations were massively damp and therefore had to be drained and then re-insulated all around. Within this framework, it was also decided to expand a retention basin for the collection and diversion of rainwater in order not only to comply with the latest environmental protection guidelines, but also to set ground-breaking standards for the city of Kitzbühel.
First and foremost, the neglected interiors of the Lacknerhaus had to be cleared of rubbish, but also of animal carcasses. After the clearing, pest control measures had to be taken due to the heavy infestation by various vermin. At present, massive water damage and the additional spread of mould throughout all floors pose a major problem, which is why the entire building, from the foundation to the roof truss, is being drained and statically secured simultaneously.
As far as statics are concerned, the rotten truss of the original roof truss, which is in danger of collapsing, poses a major problem that should be solved with the help of experienced structural engineers and restorers. The restoration and stabilization of the late Gothic, simple barrel vaults is also one of the main issues.
The decades-old power and water lines, including the sanitary facilities, are in a completely dilapidated state and are being restructured according to the latest technical and energy-saving standards.
Furthermore, a completely new heating system will be installed, as no such system existed at the time of acquisition.
Doors and windows in the whole house are leaking and partly smashed. During the restoration work, all doors and window frames will be insulated and completely restored, and many windowpanes will have to be replaced.
Further work on the house, in particular the restoration and partial reconstruction of historical handicrafts, will be based on the measures already successfully completed at the Berggericht.
PRESENT USE & FUTURE PLANS
The EUROPEAN HERITAGE PROJECT has already successfully completed the restoration work on the Berggericht. The ground floor as well as the first floor are now used as shop space and for a gastronomic establishment, so that the historically preserved core of the listed building remains accessible to the public, and the upper floors are available as living space. The Lacknerhaus will also follow this approach, including its future use, once restoration measures have been completed. The planned completion date for this is the end of 2020.
In addition, the EUROPEAN HERITAGE PROJECT has set itself the goal of supporting the City of Kitzbühel, as a reliable partner, after completion of the extensive renovation work on both monuments, in jointly redesigning the pedestrian zone around the area of St. Catherine’s Church.
The aim of this collaboration is not only to restructure the square, but also to make the entire cityscape more liveable by upgrading the city centre and highlighting it as an area particularly worth preserving.