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The Schloss

The area also has two sights worth visiting. The first is Schloss Seggau, a 13th century castle that occupies a commanding position over a low valley. One of its interior walls is covered with worn marble plaques from Roman times.

Your reporter experienced a memorable and serendipitous moment while standing on the castle wall enjoying the view. On this hot day, a group of elderly Austrians on a church tour wandered to a cluster of benches under a tall chestnut tree. I watched them for a moment and then turned back to the view. Suddenly, in gentle, wavering voices, they began to sing an old hymn. It felt like a cool, refreshing breeze.

The Mausoleum

The other not-to-be missed attraction is Ehrenhausen's Mausoleum, which shelters the tomb of Ruprecht of Eggenburg, who fought the Turks at the end of the 16th century. While the Baroque funerary monument is impressive enough in itself, the best part of the experience is the process one must go through in order to visit it. The Mausoleum is located on the grounds of a private castle overlooking the town, but you must first go to the church in the center of town to get the key. There you will find the wizened old lady who looks after the church. It is at this point that the entire project begins to take on a fairy tale aura. After determining that you wish to visit the Mausoleum she leads you to a large book in which you must sign your name. She then produces a foot-long iron skeleton key with the admonition that it is the Mausoleum's only key and, once inside, you must prop the door open with a stone. If the door closes, you will be locked inside for at least 4 or 5 hours before being rescued. She then points the way to a small stone path that leads to the Mausoleum on the hill.

At the top is a small domed building guarded by two grotesquely foreshortened statues that look like Gog and Magog, gigantic trolls dressed in armor and wielding clubs. They contrast sharply with the graceful Baroque and pale yellow of the rest of the structure. It is a thrill to be alone, opening such a big heavy door with such an enormous key, knowing that a dark turn of events could leave one locked inside for hours. It also seems totally outrageous to be given full responsibility for this 400 year-old structure by merely signing your name.