The history of the Bad Kleinkirchheim region

The first spa guest was in a rush. You see, Count Palatine Poto was on the run in 1055, and he chose a hiding place that would continue to serve as a refuge for many of his descendants some 1000 years later. A place where they could escape from everyday life, stress and boredom.

In the gentle alpine world of the Nockberge lies the idyllic Bad Kleinkirchheim, today mainly known for the Ski World Cup, its spas and culinary delights. Bad Kleinkirchheim looks back at a history of almost 1000 years, which ranges from medieval counts to modern-day ski "Kaisers", but always with the region’s healing thermal water at its heart.

Allow us to take you on an exciting journey...

The beginnings of Bad Kleinkirchheim

Poto, the count palatine, was already drawn to the water when he discovered its healing properties at a spring in the uninhabited Kirchheim Valley. News of the hot spring spread fast, and soon Bavarian and Slavic settlers moved to the valley. Kleinkirchheim is first documented in 1177 by Pope Alexander II. From 1469, the Fraternity of Saint George’s Holy Knights from Millstatt governs the town. The times are turbulent, with attacks from the Turks and Hungarians determining lives.

The warm thermal water has, however, always shaped the area. A chapel was erected by Millstatt Abbey in 1492 to protect the spring, dedicated to Saint Catherine. When a second spring is tapped in the 17th century and led to the "Badehäusl" (bathhouse) via wooden piping where the water is reheated and filled into bathtubs, the number of guests rises. The local priest was in charge of the visitors’ spiritual salvation, instructed to hold mass once a day. Bathing regulations from 1762 advise guests to complete a three-week stay, but times remain turbulent. Peasant wars, the French invasion and poor harvests cause suffering. The healing thermal water remains the draw of the region, planting the roots of local history.

Kleinkirchheim takes to advertising

Some years later, the Kleinkirchheimer took to advertising for the first time. An advert by Josef Michael - owner of the Kathrein spa – appeared in the Klagenfurter Zeitung in 1831: a bath in the hut for 6 Kreuzer or in the back room for 4 Kreuzer. For 10 Kreuzer per day and person you could unwind in a bricked room!

The offer was in great demand, and the first brochure produced by the 1850 founded municipality of Kleinkirchheim boasts of "12 rooms to accommodate spa guests". Family Ronacher acquired a bathhouse for 30,000 Kronen in 1908, and Family Pulverer laid the foundations of its continued success with a small "Jausen-Station" (snack bar). Both businesses remain family-owned, leading establishments of the region to this day.

Kleinkirchheim as pioneer

The 21st century approaches and Kleinkirchheim is often a step ahead of its time. The first outdoor thermal pool is opened in 1934. Two years later, the municipality with 1100 residents already has over 400 guest beds. In 1956 the first ski lift is opened. Stretching 620 metres, it is Carinthia’s longest at the time. In 1969 the Kleinkirchheimer celebrate the opening of their indoor thermal pool. "Kleinkirchheim" is granted the "Bad" to its name in 1935, and in 1957 it becomes official: Bad Kleinkirchheim can now be found on local signs. In 1977 the Carinthian state government awards the "Thermalbad" title to the town, and in 1978 Austria’s first fun bath opens – the Thermal Römerbad.

Franz Klammer – Ambassador and icon

First the work, then the fun. In the thermal spa region of Bad Kleinkirchheim you can relax after an active day. Not just wellness and relaxation are themes here, but also sports events. One name is associated with these in particular: Franz Klammer. In 1971 he wins his first European Cup downhill race on Kirchheim’s "K70" descent.

A star is born - in Bad Kleinkirchheim and for Bad Kleinkirchheim. Until today the Carinthian, who gained worldwide fame following his Olympic victory in 1976, remains a highly demanded ambassador of the World Cup destination.

Bad Kleinkirchheim first hosts a Ski World Cup in 1978, and in 1981 the municipality records its highest level of overnights as an internationally renowned destination of 930,000.

The athletic devlopment continues

In 1983 a system for artificial snow production is already taken into operation. The first 18-hole golf course opens in Bad Kleinkirchheim in 1986. In 1988 the Ski World Cup descends upon the region again, with a men’s slalom and the victory of Italian ski star Alberto Tomba. 1993 sees the launch of the double chair lift to the Strohsack.
Being continuously developed and extended, the Bad Kleinkirchheim ski area is now an extensive arena for all skill levels, with more than 100 kilometres of pistes, of which almost 100% have artificial snow systems. And for those looking for speed: in 2003 - 32 years after his first European Cup victory on the old "K70" descent - Franz Klammer is given his own ski race course! The World Cup slope "Carinthia – Franz Klammer", which still regularly hosts Ski World Cup races. The "Klammer-Stich" is a particularly challenging section, with a gradient of 34.7°.

Sunshine Moments for spa enthusiasts

Bad Kleinkirchheim has two thermal spas: the Thermal Römerbad, which reopened in autumn 2007 after extensive renovation and extension, and the Family & Health Spa St. Kathrein, which completed a full refurbishment in autumn 2017. The Thermal Römerbad boasts an impressive sauna and wellness landscape across three levels, and you can soak up extra energy at the complimentary workshops in the meditation room. The Aromaticum transports you into a world of wonderful fragrances and essential oils.

The Family & Health Spa St. Kathrein houses the largest water area of all Carinthian spas and an 86 m long water slide, which is one of Carinthia’s longest. The children’s animation and active programme guarantees fun for all the family, so it’s not surprising that both young and old will want to return again and again. Relaxation is provided here too, be it in the wellness pool with panoramic views, the pine relaxation room with sun terrace or the extensive sauna landscape.

The nock/MED health centre in the Family & Health Spa St. Kathrein, under the direction of spa and sports physician Dr. Eckart Waidmann, has also been completely refurbished and adapted in line with the latest health sector guidelines. A professionally trained team is dedicated to preventive treatment for the young and young at heart. Massages, wraps and physiotherapy sessions can be booked to meet your individual needs.

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