The Chinese Town

History of Sebastian Perfeller

1814 - Sebastian Perfeller is born in Eschenau/Pinzgau on 10th January. 

1827 - Sebastian learns the blacksmith's trade as his father cannot afford to send him to college.  

1829 - On 11th December, his father Jakob Perfeller buys the smithy in Fürth, which Sebastian takes over in 1835.

1839 - Sebastian marries his wife Gertraud and their children Anna, Johann, Jakob and Maria are born between 1841 and 1848. 

1862 - On 1st October he leaves home. Via Traunstein, Munich, Augsburg, Nuremberg, Bamberg, Coburg, Weimar, Halle, Magdeburg, Braunschweig, he arrives in Hamburg, where he witnesses the 100th anniversary of the construction of St Michael's Church.  

On 28th October, he embarked on the emigrant ship "Gellert" with 380 other emigrants. On the evening of 14th December, after an interesting but exhausting sea voyage for Perfeller, the ship docked at the port of San Francisco in southern Brazil. 

On 17th December, he travelled on to the German colony of Joinville. From there he visited his friend Kohler from Hopfgarten, whose estate was two and a half hours outside the city. The lush vegetation impressed him more than the farming life in the colony, where he was disappointed by the meagre agricultural yields. He stayed with the Kohler family for about a quarter of a year, partly to recover from a gastritis he had contracted on the boat trip, and partly to explore the foreign world. 

1863 - On 12th March, Perfeller leaves Joinville and arrives in San Francisco after a seven-hour train journey. There he had to wait a few days for the steamship to leave for Santos and used the time to explore the city. He arrived in Santos on Palm Sunday and immediately found work with the master blacksmith Seidenthaler. He is well looked after and receives a good wage of 10 guilders a week. 

On 5th September, he left the port of Santos on the Bremen barque "Mathilde" to set foot on European soil again in Hamburg-Altona on 15th November. Via Leipzig, Munich, Salzburg and Reichenhall, he returned to Fürth, where he arrived in early December. 

1865 - Perfeller expands the hut at Kohlplatz, which had already been built in 1862, before the first big giant, in Fürther Graben, into a small cottage.  

1866 - The desire to travel awakens again. Curious after receiving letters from two friends who had emigrated to the north of the USA, he sets off on his second journey on 6th October. The overland journey to Hamburg takes him via Munich, Weimar and Magdeburg.  

On 16th October, he embarked with over 1000 people on the large emigrant ship "Allemania". After a turbulent and stormy sea voyage, the Allemania reached the port of New Yourk on 28th October. Five days later, the journey continued westwards: Dunkirk on Lake Erie, Toledo, Chicago were the stops before reaching Colona, the destination of his journey, on 20th November. 

1867 - Welcomed by his friends Pichler and Reiner and somewhat surprised by their relative prosperity - they had emigrated from Pinzgau with only 300 Taler - he tries to find work as a blacksmith. He has no luck in Colona or in Chicago. Only after a long search did he find work in Colona, but only for three months, with free board and lodging and a monthly wage of 50 gulden. As he was no better off in other cities, he decided to return to his homeland. 

In New York, he celebrated the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence before boarding the emigrant ship "Hammonia" on 7th July 1867 and arriving in Hamburg on 21st July. In Munich, the last cruiser was issued. As no one helped him, he set off on foot. He is said to have been on the road for only five days: Via Rosenheim, Kössen, Kitzbühel and Mittersill, he finally arrived in Fürth, exhausted and starving after only a few hours' rest and hardly any food. 

After his return, he leased the forge to his son Johann and retired completely to the Fürther Graben, where he began to build the Chinese Town. 

1869 - The plot of land on which he builds the Chinese Town is entered in the land register as the "Chinese Rose Garden".  

1879 - A portrait of Sebastian Perfeller is published in the "Salzburger Zeitung" under the title "Der Einsiedler von Fürth. Ein Lebensbild aus dem Pinzgau" a portrait of Sebastian Perfeller, edited by A. Posselt-Csorich.  

1883 - Sebastian Perfeller dies on 15th July and is buried, against his will, in the Piesendorf cemetery rather than in the Chinese Town. 

The plot of land in the Fürther Graben, on which Perfeller built the Chinese Town over the course of 15 years, and which was entered in the land register as "Chinese Rose Garden" in 1869, is approx. 80 metres long and between 15 and 25 metres wide. At the fron, the Chinese Town is about 40 metres long, and a lake has been created on the rest of the site. The difference in height between the open space next to the bridge and the gable height of the uppermost pavilion (presumably the observatory) is about 25 m. 

"When you climb up, you can see the whole of the Pinzgau valley from east to west, and to the south the high, snow-covered icebergs".

The garden is terraced on the east side of the steam, in the Chinese style, on a steep slope and rock face.  

>The path to this garden is lined with maple trees on both sides. A small, clear stream runs through the centre of the garden. An American-style bridge with a roof leads over the brook.<

Unfortunately, the model (on the left) is not available for viewing at the moment!  

The stream provided cooling in the summer, and the many newly planted larch, maple, cherry, chestnut, pear and rowan trees, as well as roses and elderberry bushes, provided shade and a creative effect. As a Posselt-Csorich writes, Perfeller assigned certain functions to the individual pavilions and cottages and gave them names: 

>At the top of the gallery is the observatory, one floor below is the billard and conversation gallery, then follows the gallery of the Seven Beatitudes and the diary gallery, still lower is the natural-historical-geographical-geological-astronomical-biographical picture gallery.<

He had also built a smithy (to the left of the bridge). The pavilions, arcades and passageways were filled with paintings by Jakob Mayer, a painter from Wald im Pinzgau and a friend of Perfeller's. There were Goethe and Schiller, the American President Abraham Lincoln and the Emperor of China. 

Visitors at the time could admire landscapes of North America and views of New York City painted on numerous metal panels, as well as numerous flower paintings, portraits and 15 canvas panels depicting the 8 beatitudes and the 7 sacraments. 

The four elements - water, air, earth and light - are combined in their many manifestations to form a harmonious whole. This is what Sebastian Perfeller wanted at achieve with his experiment: To create a new world according to his own ideas and concepts. 

After Perfeller's death, the building, which was constructed mainly of softwood, gradually fell into disrepair. A fire in the late 1890s destroyed the remains.  

Picture on the left: Oil painting - portrait of Sebastian Perfeller at the age of about 60, framed by depictions to travel experiences in South and North America.  

Panoramaweg trail Piesendorf

Along the theme trail, certified by Austria's Hiking Villages, youn will pass 10 different information boards, including "The Chinese Town" board.

Here you can also learn about the history of Sebastian Perfeller and the Chinese Town.