Wels: Stadtplatz main square with Ledererturm tower.
Wels, Upper Austria, chartered town in the district of Wels, alt. 317 m, pop. 52,594, area 45.92 km2, second largest town of Upper Austria, traffic centre, trading and industrial town, popular for fairs and exhibitions, situated on the River Traun, at the edge of the Welser Heide Plain. - District Commission, District Court, district building authorities, provincial court and prison, federal police headquarters, employment services, tax office, office of weights, measures and surveying, customs authorities and animal breeding authorities, labour inspectorate, chamber of labour, economic chamber, vocational training institute (BFI), district chamber of agriculture, Upper Austrian provincial chamber of veterinary medicine, regional health and social insurance agency with outpatients clinics, hospital, private hospital, psychiatric hospital, Hessen barracks, logistics centre of the Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB, Cargo Express department), public waste collection centre (e.g. bottle bank, paper bank etc.), incinerating plant, Puchberg education centre, family advice centre, probation centre, women´s refuge, counselling centre for alcoholics, families, young people and drug addicts, office of the school psychological service, several daycentres, Lichtenegg sports complex, ice-skating rink, indoor swimming pool, theme pool, camping, Bosch-Halle, Europa-Center, Stadthalle multi-purpose complex, Stadtmuseum (municipal museum), municipal theatre, municipal library, Puppenwelt doll museum, Caritas (counselling etc.), Kolpinghaus centre, Volkshilfe charity, department for the maintenance of roads, motorways and bridges, provincial contractors´ yard, hydroelectric power station, gas and district heating works, Traunleiten power station (built in 1901, 8.3 MW), weir power station, Breitenbach and Noitzmühle power stations, airport, auction hall; Upper Austrian fruit trading centre, schools comprise two Bundesgymnasium (both also Bundesrealgymnasium) and one Bundesrealgymnasium secondary schools, secondary school for domestic science run by the School Sisters, commercial academy, upper secondary school of engineering, advanced-level commercial school, upper secondary school for food technology (cereals branch) and Upper Austrian school for millers, agricultural trade and vocational school, adult education centre, homes for students, Turkish mosque, Islamic culture centre; biennial International Agricultural Fair in September, alternately held in Wels with the "Welser Volksfest" (since 1878) and in Ried im Innkreis, also twenty annual trade fairs (fairgrounds and Wels Festival area, new fair centre); 34,989 people employed (1991), around 63 % of whom in the service sector (mostly personal, social and public services, retail and wholesale businesses, financial, haulage and freight businesses); the production sector largely consists of small and medium-sized enterprises: metal-processing industry (agricultural machines), textile industry as well as food and beverages industry, engine works, production of punches and stamps, tourism, especially fair visitors (139,977 overnight stays in 1992). - Was an administrative centre, known as Ovilava, in Roman times and one of the most significant Roman settlements on Austrian soil (rich finds in the Stadtmuseum), documented mention as "castrum Uueles" in 776, trading place in the Middle Ages; some of the old town buildings have been preserved, such as the Ledererturm tower, Polheim palace (documented mention in 1280) and the former imperial castle. The Baroque Stadtplatz main square (the styles of the façades range from Gothic to Jugendstil, town hall 1748) is one of the most beautiful main squares in Austria, next to it is a Romanesque/late-Gothic parish church (documented mention in 888), Romanesque pier basilica with west portal (second half of the 12th century), altered in Gothic style in the 14th century, glass paintings (second half of the 14th century; some of the best examples of this kind in Austria), several grave monuments (16th -19th centuries); Kremsmünstererhof complex (16th century); secularised Minorite church (1283), one of the earliest Gothic buildings in Austria, with late-Gothic frescoes in the chapel of St. Barbara; secularised hospital church, built according to plans by J. M. Prunner from 1712-1714; Calvary church (1715/16); Puchberg Palace (1612, altered in the 18th century); Lichtenegg Palace(16th century); Pernau Palace (1610); Burg Wels cultural centre (town history, room where Emperor Maximilian I died), museum of agriculture and Austrian museum of bakery, Krackowizer Biedermeier art collection, Heimatvertriebenenmuseum (dedicated to the culture of German-speaking expellees from Eastern Europe).
Coat of arms of Wels.
Literature: Österreichisches Städtebuch, vol. I, Die Städte Oberösterreichs, 1968; H. Grassner, Die Messestadt Wels und ihre Umgebung, 1976; W. Aspernig, Wels (cultural guide), 1984; K. Holter and G. Trathnigg, Wels von der Urzeit bis zur Gegenwart, 21986; K. Holter (ed.), Quellen und Darstellungen zur Geschichte von Wels, vol. 1, 1988.
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