Church of the dog: Mysterious symbols on a rock slabContact
In woody Upper Carinthia in the lovely skiing area of Lake Weissensee, hidden in a lonely high valley there is a looming, vertical limestone cliff, 13 m high, that has a mysterious set of symbolic signs chiselled into it. The cliff is referred to as “Hundskirche” (literally: church of the dog), because you can clearly identify a dog carrying what appears to be a church tower on top of its head. It is believed to be a cult site dating back to the time of the Celts. The experience will take about two hours. Sturdy shoes are recommended.
HOW TO GET THERE
Starting out from our farm, you drive as far as the next village Nickelsdorf. At the entrance of the village turn right and take the road to Tragin. The country road first leads you downhill, you cross a little bridge, drive uphill and you reach the main road to Hermagor/Kreuzen/Windische Höhe. Here you turn right and continue through the village of Kreuzen and after Kreuzner Jagdschloss (a hunting lodge) on the right-hand side, you take the turnoff on the right to Stockenboi/Farchtensee. Five minutes after the crossroads, driving through the woods, you’ll be able to make out the mysterious cliffs to your left. The second, very striking, cliff is a vertical, almost triangular slab of rock, 1 metre thick, the Hundskirche. You can park your car on the opposite side of the road. Total driving time: 20 minutes.
Sacrificial stone and cult site. There are various different symbols carved into the slab. During the counter-reformation, this used to be a secret meeting place for Protestants who worshipped here. You can also make out the inscription “Also geht’s in der Welt“, written in letters pointing in all directions, meaning that the world is a rather topsy-turvy place. Then you’ll discover winding snakes, a pentacle, a swastika (originally a symbol of the sun wheel) and crossed miners’ hammers as well as mysterious words, some in mirror writing, some upside down. The locals also call this rock slab “Pagan wall”, because legend has it that people were looking for gold in these parts thousands of years before Christianity came along. It is told that the people sacrificed to their gods by the Hundskirche and carved the Pagan symbols into the rock. Dogs and snakes are well known as guardians of underground treasures. Apparently, there are many more “dog churches” in hidden mining areas, far away from big settlements. In our house we have a book with stories from mining areas and a book by a Protestant priest “Gedenke der Zeiten”. If you have a head for heights you can climb the back of the cliff and see if you can find any more symbols.
Whichever way you want to interpret the symbols (there are manifold ways), this will certainly remain a mysterious place, which has not been fully deciphered up to this day.
Obviously, the Hundskirche is not a church in the actual sense of the word. But could that be the actual message? We have often been wondering about this with our guests. Would you like to open yourself up to this place and retrace the religious past of our ancestors and find out what seems right to you?
Take the same route back to our farm.