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magazine 2015

NATURE, CULTURE & RIVERSIDE REVERIE

WETLANDS, RULERS AND BON VIVANTS

DANUBE TOUR: In Search of the Habsburgs // NATURE ALONG THE DANUBE: Riverside Hikes DANUBE DELIGHTS: From Farm to Farm // DANUBE CELEBRITIES: Clemens Hellsberg DANUBE LIFE: Tips & Events


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UPPER AUSTRIA moves. touches.


© Donau NÖ/Gregor Semrad

© WienTourismus/Ch. Stemper

© Manuel Tauber-Romieri

© Stift St. Florian St. Florian’s Abbey.

View of Dürnstein.

Theseus Temple in the Volksgarten.

Clemens Hellsberg.

// Rulers, Ringstrasse, Retreats The Habsburgs always knew where the good life was. That explains why they also left traces behind at many places along the Danube. As we delve into the history of this ruling dynasty, our journey takes us to castles, into sumptuous imperial apartments and of course onto the magnificent Ringstrasse in Vienna, which celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2015. The Danube drew rulers – and many others – in earlier times and continues to draw people today. They come because of the rich social and cultural life but also because they can feel especially close to nature here. The Danube wetlands, the national park and nature parks along the mighty river are ideal places to retreat, to get away from it all – for fauna and for stressed-out city dwellers. And because riverside hikers work up a big appetite, it is good the Danube region has so many regional culinary delights for them to choose from. You will read about all this and more in this issue of DANUBE Magazine. An inspiring interview with Clemens Hellsberg, first violinist and long-standing president of the Vienna Philharmonic, also graces the pages of this issue. Happy reading and happy travels along the Danube! Fritz Gillinger

Editor-in-Chief of DANUBE Magazine

CONTENTS Cover photo: Donausteig, Schlögener Schlinge © WGD Donau Oberösterreich Tourismus GmbH/Hochhauser

04 POINTS OF CONTACT Three Austrian Provinces, One River 10 TRAVELS ALONG THE DANUBE In Search of the Habsburgs 14 NATURE ALONG THE DANUBE Exploring Nature on Foot 18 DANUBE DELIGHTS From Farm to Farm 20 DANUBE CELEBRITIES An Interview with Clemens Hellsberg 22 DANUBE LIFE Tips & Events

COMPLETE INFORMATION ON THE DANUBE IN AUSTRIA Danube in Upper Austria WGD Donau Oberösterreich Tourismus GmbH Lindengasse 9, A-4040 Linz, Austria T +43 732 7277-800, info@donauregion.at, www.donauregion.at Danube in Lower Austria Donau Niederösterreich Tourismus GmbH Schlossgasse 3, A-3620 Spitz/Donau, Austria T +43 2713 30060-60, urlaub@donau.com, www.donau.com

Danube Competence Center danube.travel ARGE Route of Emperors and Kings strassederkaiserundkoenige.at

Vienna Tourist Board Tourist Info, Albertinaplatz/Maysedergasse, 1010 Vienna T +43 1 24 555, info@vienna.info, www.vienna.info

PUBLICATION INFORMATION/DISCLAIMER: Responsible for Content: ARGE Donau Österreich, Lindengasse 9, A-4040 Linz, Austria, T +43 732 7277-800, www.austria.info/donau | Project Management: Petra Riffert | Editing & Production: Lwmedia, Ringstrasse 44/1, A-3500 Krems, Austria. T +43 2732 82000, www.lwmedia.at. Management: Erwin Goldfuss | Editor-in-Chief: Fritz Gillinger | Art Director: Martin Bauer Graphics: Christian Eckart | Copy: Fritz Gillinger, Bernhard Mayerhofer, Ángeles Hiedler, Anita Ericson, Thomas Rambauske, Barbara Hutter | Photos: LWmedia Archive/Shutterstock, zVg, WGD Tourismus GmbH/Hochhauser, St. Florian Abbey, Donau Niederösterreich/Gregor Semrad, WienTourismus/Ch. Stemper, Manuel Tauber-Romieri, WGD Donau Oberösterreich Tourismus GmbH/Erber, Grafenegg Castle / Alexander Haiden, APA/Robert Jäger, TV Linz/Gerda Haunschmid, Göttweig Abbey/Robert Herbst, Klosterneuburg Abbey/Alexander Haiden, Schloss Hof, WienTourismus/Lois Lammerhuber, WienTourismus/ Peter Rigaud, Donau Niederösterreich/Markus Haslinger, Nationalpark Donau-Auen, Lukas Ilgner, Donau Niederösterreich/Steve Haider, Florian Voggeneder, Donau Niederösterreich/Dr. Franz Hauleitner, WGD Donau Oberösterreich Tourismus GmbH/Weissenbrunner, Brandner Schiffahrt, ARGE Donau, Donau Niederösterreich Tourismus Wachau/Lachlan Blair, Niederösterreich Werbung/K. M. Westermann, Julian Laidig, Kovacs. As of: November 2014. All information provided with no guarantee of completeness and accuracy. Subject to errors and changes.

© Shutterstock

www.donau-oesterreich.at


KALEIDOSCOPE OF MOODS This area has been shaped by human hands longer than most others in Europe yet has remained so young. An incomparable kaleidoscope­­of moods and impressions awaits cyclists on the Danube Cycle Path as they travel from the former bishop’s seat of Passau into Upper Austria to the pulsating cultural laboratory that is Linz and beyond to the medieval town of Grein. Cutting-edge art and culture, splendid fortresses and castles, forested river banks and fragrant meadows, blossoming parks, gardens and promenades. The season begins on April 19, 2015, with the event “Rad Total” (Nothing but Bicycles) and ends in late autumn when the Danube Cycle Path in Upper Austria dons its most brilliant colors. www.donauregion.at

The joy of cycling on the Danube Cycle Path just outside Grein/Donau.

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© WGD Donau Oberösterreich Tourismus GmbH/Erber

upper austria // ENCOUNTERS

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A DANCE OF CULTURE AND WINE Grafenegg Castle: This magical venue serves as the flagship for an entire region and is masterful at combining culture, wine and culinary finesse to create an unforgettable overall experience. And the setting is incomparable. The international elite from the world of classical music gather at Grafenegg every year in late August to mid-September to put on a music festival under the artistic direction of the star pianist Rudolf Buchbinder. But Grafenegg is not the only place where culture is on the calendar. Many festivals and concerts are staged along the Danube in Lower Austria, from Ardagger to Hainburg. It is a matter of course in Lower Austria that these events nearly always go hand in hand with top wines and the finest in culinary delights. www.donau.com

The open-air stage known as Wolkenturm (Tower of Clouds) with Grafenegg Castle in the background.

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Š Alexander Haiden

lower austria // ENCOUNTERS

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THE WORLD’S MOST BEAUTIFUL BOULEVARD State Opera, Imperial Palace, Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna and Natural History Museum, Parliament, City Hall, Burgtheater, University of Vienna, Votive Church, Stock Exchange… These buildings are among the most important in the land, but what else do they have in common? Well, they are all located along the Ringstrasse in Vienna, a masterpiece of urban planning that locals proudly call the world’s most beautiful boulevard. The “Ring” was officially opened by Emperor Francis Joseph I on May 1, 1865, and will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2015 with numerous special events and exhibitions. A unique experience: The Ringstrasse bike path runs all around the First District, the historical center of Vienna, and gives cyclists a unique perspective for viewing the Ring. www.vienna.info

View from the Burgtheater to the Ring and famous Café Landtmann.

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Š WTV/Christian Stemper

vienna // ENCOUNTERS

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Her castle is her home: Anita Hohenberg, chatelaine of Artstetten Castle.

THE HABSBURGS SHAPED THE HISTORY OF AUSTRIA AND EUROPE LIKE NO OTHER RULING DYNASTY. THE DANUBE WAS THE BACKBONE OF THE HABSBURG EMPIRE AND THE BLUE THREAD RUNNING THROUGHOUT ITS HISTORY. BARBARA HUTTER

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The Danube has linked cultures for time immemorial, as a border river and trade artery, a travel route and strategic axis. All along its banks, the signature of the Habsburgs’ 645-year reign is evident: from the ascent of Rudolph I to the German throne in 1273 through the grand style of the Baroque Age to Charles I going into exile in 1918. Leaving Passau traveling downstream on the Danube, you soon happen upon the first haven of hospitality: the pilgrimage hostel of Engelszell Abbey. It was secularized by the great Habsburg reformer Emperor Joseph II in 1786 and is the only Trappist monastery in Austria today. The pure Rococo of Engelszell is only a foretaste of what is ahead, however. Following the famous meander in the Danube known as the Schlögene Schlinge, the Danube Valley turns from narrow and forested to broad and open in the basin of Eferding, residence of the Starhembergs. It was a member of this ancient noble family, Count Ernst Rüdiger, who brought the defense of Vienna against the Turks to a victorious conclusion in 1683. His services are memorialized today in the castle museum by an agate (quartz) tabletop from the tent of Kara Mustafa, Turkish

© APA/Robert Jäger

TRACES OF THE PAST ALONG THE MIGHTY RIVER


imperial // TRAVELS ALONG THE DANUBE

© TV Linz/Gerda Haunschmid, St. Florian‘s Abbey, WGD Donau Oberösterreich Tourismus GmbH/Hochhauser

Idyllic city scene: Schlossmuseum Linz.

St. Florian’s Abbey.

Engelszell Abbey, the only Trappist monastery in Austria.

commander in the Battle of Vienna, plus Turkish weapons and the count’s telescope. A good ways downstream is Wilhering, a Cistercian monastery and former motherhouse of Engelszell, with its magnificent abbey church and works by the Baroque painter Martino Altomonte.

Maximilian fortifications built there in the first half of the 19th century. The complex was never used to defend Linz but it does serve as a wonderful lookout point. From there, you have a breathtaking view of the entire city of Linz and in good weather, all the way to the Fore-Alps.

FREDERICK III PREFERRED LINZ Next, the Upper Austrian capital of Linz comes into view. It too once served as an imperial residence. In the late 15th century Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor, preferred nondescript Linz to splendid Vienna. Medieval minnesinger Walther von der Vogelweide could rave all he wanted to about the wonderful court of Vienna (“…der wünnecliche hof ze Wiene!”), the emperor felt more at home in Linz. Frederick’s legendary marriage policy and trade – not least along the Danube – brought power and wealth. Linz became the major storage location for goods along the river. Its castle, perched high above the Danube, was soon transformed into an extensive Renaissance complex. Today the Upper Austrian provincial museum displays its many collections in the halls of the castle. Frederick’s personal motto A.E.I.O.U. – often interpreted as meaning Austriae Est Imperare Orbi Universo (All the World is Subject to the House of Austria) – still graces the portal of Linz castle. Numerous Baroque structures are also preserved, for instance the 23-meter high, cloud-like Trinity Column on Hauptplatz. The terrace of the Baroque pilgrimage church on Pöstlingberg across the river on the north bank affords a grand overall impression of Linz. The terrace is on one of the towers of the

ARCHITECTURAL MONUMENTS ALONG THE DANUBE What began in 1020 at a castle called Habsburg in today’s Swiss canton of Aargau developed from the Middle Ages onward into the great and powerful Danube Monarchy. It was an empire subject to violent attacks throughout the centuries. The Turkish Wars created the biggest convulsions. After the final defeat of the Turks in 1683 and the incorporation of Hungary into the Habsburg Empire, a genuine building boom commenced. The House of Habsburg under Emperor Leopold I celebrated its uncontested supremacy and proceeded in the decades thereafter to erect architectural monuments along the Danube. They have remained the predominant style down to the present day. One impressive example is St. Florian, just a few kilometers outside Linz. This monastery of the Augustinian Canons would later be the final resting place of the organist and composer Anton Bruckner. The emperor made a pilgrimage here after his victory to express his gratitude. Carlo Antonio Carlone began a Baroque renovation of the complex in 1686. The magnificent staircase, marble hall and imperial wing that resulted would be a single splendid homage to the Habsburg dynasty. Following Carlone’s death, Jakob Prandtauer took over the construction

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On Austria’s grandest staircase: The imperial staircase in Göttweig Abbey.

Imposing: Schloss Hof.

site and drew inspiration here for Melk Abbey, a later project located further downstream. His construction of the new Baroque monastery in Melk began in 1688 and did not reach its monumentally splendid completion until half a century later. Göttweig Abbey, a Benedictine monastery at the eastern gateway to the Wachau, joined in the victorious chorus with its imperial staircase – the largest grand Baroque staircase in Austria. The Baroque imprint from this time is still present in the villages and towns along the Danube today. So too are the paintings and frescos by the most famous painters of the age, such as Martin Johann Schmidt, aka Kremser Schmidt, or Paul Troger, whose legendary “Troger blue” still leaves visitors to Melk and Göttweig Abbeys astounded today.

Following the road along the Danube bank, you soon glimpse the steep terraced vineyards in the Wachau. The shipping museum in Spitz vividly explains river transportation along the Danube in royal and imperial days. There were many types of vessels traveling the river, from cargo-carrying flat-bottomed boats called zillen to grand imperial barges. Emperor Leopold I sat aboard one of the latter barges in Dürnstein feverishly awaiting the outcome of the Turkish War. After you pass through the towns of Krems and Tulln but before arriving in the capital city of Vienna, there is yet another monument to admire perched high up on the south bank of the Danube: Klosterneuburg Abbey. Two crown-shaped domes fashioned after the imperial crown and the archducal hat remind visitors of the plans of Emperor Charles VI to expand the old complex into a grand monastic residence. As devout Roman Catholics, the Habsburgs also set signs in Vienna of their selfassured imperial power both religious and secular with the representative Baroquizing of churches and their cool magnificence . St. Charles’ Church, completed in 1737, is a prime example.

VISIT TO THE GREAT-GRANDDAUGHTER OF THE HEIR PRESUMPTIVE A side trip from Melk to the north bank of the Danube also transports you back in time. A few kilometers down the curvy road you come upon idyllic Artstetten Castle, lying hidden in the midst of one of the most significant historical parks in Austria. The lady of the castle is Princess Anita of Hohenberg, a great-granddaughter of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne and his wife, Countess Sophie Chotek. The lovingly arranged museum in the castle presents the darkest hours of the House of Habsburg – the assassination in Sarajevo that was to trigger the First World War – and the archduke from a very private perspective for a touching chapter of family history from the House of Habsburg.

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150TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE RINGSTRASSE Versailles and Paris were big rivals of Vienna. The grand court library, the Spanish Riding School and the wing containing the imperial chancery were all built under the aegis of the famous Baroque architects Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach and Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt. Schönbrunn with its characteristic yellow facades and Gloriette was renovated and enlarged as a Baroque palace complex. Noble city palaces

© Göttweig Abbey/Robert Herbst, Klosterneuburg Abbey/Alexander Haiden, Schloss Hof

The imperial apartments in Klosterneuburg Abbey.


imperial // TRAVELS ALONG THE DANUBE

© WienTourismus/Lois Lammerhuber, WienTourismus/Peter Rigaud, Shutterstock

Imperial Crown of Austria, Treasure Chamber, Hofburg.

View from the tower of St. Stephen’s Cathedral.

Schönbrunn Palace Gardens with Gloriette.

popped up such as the Upper and Lower Belvedere of Prince Eugene of Savoy, who had been richly rewarded by the ruling dynasty for his military victories. In 1804, Napoleon crowned himself Emperor of France, effectively putting an end to the title of Holy Roman Emperor and compelling the Habsburg ruler to adopt the title Emperor of Austria. The Habsburg Monarchy was imperial and royal (kaiserlich-und-königlich or k.u.k.) and Vienna became more radiant than ever before. Emperor Francis Joseph I had the city walls razed and the Ringstrasse built. It is a fine backdrop for an impressive circular tour down to the present day and the focal point of numerous exhibitions and events in 2015, the 150th anniversary of the official opening of this, the “most beautiful boulevard in the world.” The Hofburg was once the imperial winter palace and today houses the treasure chamber, the silver chamber and the imperial apartments, all of which are open to the public. The mortal remains of the Habsburgs – 12 emperors and 19 empresses – have had their final resting place in the crypt under the Capuchin Church since 1633. Previously, St. Stephen’s Cathedral had served as a final resting place. The elevated grave of Emperor Frederick III remains a special monument in that cathedral.

the midst of the riverside forest, attests to this fact, as does Schloss Hof with its artistic Baroque garden. The latter was first owned by Prince Eugene of Savoy, then by Maria Theresa’s spouse Francis Stephen. The former is where the imperial couple Charles I and Zita found their last refuge after abdicating in November 1918. From Eckartsau, they went into exile in Madeira via Switzerland. This Baroque gem marked the end of the trail for the Habsburg dynasty in Austria – the Danube continues to flow impassively onward. 

CASTLES FOR HUNTING AND FOR FLEEING For a long time, rulers and the high aristocracy took worldly pleasure in their hunting grounds in the riverside forests of today’s Prater but also in the forests along the Danube in the southern Marchfeld. Eckartsau, a romantic hunting lodge in

// INFO BOX ROUTE TIP: “Habsburgs & Baroque” cultural tour by car along the Danube On this cultural tour by car along the Danube in Austria, you explore two fascinating subjects: the Habsburgs and the Baroque Age. The Habsburgs influenced the history of Europe like no other ruling family. At the summit of their power, they manifested their dynasty’s grandeur with magnificent Baroque structures that still astound the world today. Departure point: Passau Final destination: Engelhartstetten/Schloss Hof Total length: ~375 km | Duration: 7 days www.donau-oesterreich.at/kultur/habsburger-barock Of course you can also take the cultural tour “Habsburgs & Baroque” by bicycle as well. www.stift-engelszell.at | www.linztourismus.at www.landesmuseum.at/schlossmuseum | www.stift-st-florian.at www.strassederkaiserundkoenige.at www.schlosshof.at | www.stiftgoettweig.at | www.schloss-artstetten.at www.stift-klosterneuburg.at | www.wachau.at www.kaiserliche-schatzkammer.at | www.schoenbrunn.at www.belvedere.at

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Hiking the Donausteig (Danube Trail) in Upper Austria: Kirchberg with Burgstallblick and lookout tower.

THE DANUBE HAS A VARIETY OF WONDERFUL NATURAL HABITATS THAT ARE BOTH PROTECTED AND ACCESSIBLE TO THE PUBLIC. ANITA ERICSON

Inhabitant of Pesenbach Valley: Eurasian wren.

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On a Danube cruise, the banks offer a wonderful backdrop with their gorges and forests, pristine wetlands and humanshaped landscapes. An approach by land is recommended for deeper impressions and broader perspectives. A number of nature reserves can be explored on foot, by bicycle and also by boat. For example, you can hike the 450 km long Donausteig (Danube Trail) in Upper Austria from Passau to Grein. It passes through a Natura 2000 nature protection area for the Upper-Danube and Aschach Valleys and extends from where the Danube flows onto Austrian territory near Passau to Aschach. This landscape is characterized by forested gorges and rocky slopes. Of particular significance are the stone runs and rock formations that are especially impressive around the Schlögene Schlinge, a famous meander in the Danube. The river literally met its match here with the hard rock and changed directions twice to circumvent it. What a stroke of luck for hikers! They can now enjoy a spectacular view from the lookout point.

© WGD Donau Oberösterreich Tourismus GmbH/Hochhauser, Shutterstock

DIVERSE NATURE ALONG THE MIGHTY RIVER


© WGD Donau Oberösterreich Tourismus GmbH/Erber, Donau Niederösterreich/Markus Haslinger

impressive // NATURE ALONG THE DANUBE

Taking a refreshing break at Giessernbachmühle in Strudengau in Upper Austria.

On the terrace of the Jauerling Nature Park Center.

“BLAUE GASSE” AND KERZENSTEIN To make the daunting Donausteig (Danube Trail) more manage­ able for hikers, it is divided into daily tours. The fifth leg is warmly recommended to anyone who enjoys stunning water­ scapes. It passes through the Pesenbach Valley nature protection area on the Mühlviertel side of the river, going from St. Martin to Aschach. Rare types of moss, lichens and ferns as well as impressive rock formations frame the natural course of the Pesenbach before it plummets gorge-like into the Danube. Many special features can be found here such as the “Blaue Gasse” (Blue Lane) – a strikingly blue-black gulley about a meter­wide – or the “Kerzenstein” (Candle Rock) – a weathered rock column extending down 40 meters to the brook below. Strudengau, a region along the far-eastern section of the Danube in Upper Austria, is another treasure trove for nature enthusiasts. The town of Grein, for instance, is the departure point for a circular hike for families into Stillensteinklamm. You pass towering granite rocks before proceeding to the main attraction that gave this gorge its name, the “Stiller Stein” (Still Rock) where the brook is hidden far underneath the boulders. Another official hiking trail in Strudengau is the one into Wolfsschlucht. Information panels along this gorge explain the bathing facilities at Bad Kreuzen, a former sanitarium specializ­ing in cold water treatments.

cultivated sloping meadows, terraced vineyards and orchards. All of these habitats are represented in Jauerling Nature Park. The park covers the left-hand bank and hinterland between Emmersdorf (vis-à-vis from Melk) and Spitz. A great way to explore it is on one of the many circular tours. If you have time, we suggest the seven-day Jauerling circuit. Anyone interested in an even more intense experience will opt for the Welterbesteig Wachau (Wachau World Heritage Trail), a long-distance trail 180 km long. Of course, this trail can also be divided into 14 comfortable legs that take hikers through the Danube Valley and the vineyard landscapes of the Wachau on scenic hiking trails. The link between the Upper Austrian Donausteig (Danube Trail) and the Lower Austria Welterbesteig (World Heritage Trail) is the 110 km long Nibelungengau Hiking Trail. This enjoyable family hiking trail conveys the peaceful, idyllic character this section of the Danube has radiated for time immemorial. The panoramic view from the pilgrimage town of Maria Taferl and the annual solstice fires in late June are memorable ways to experience the legendary Nibelungengau.

NEW LEASE ON LIFE FOR DANUBE SALMON AND THE COMMON NASE In Lower Austria, it is the landscapes shaped by human hands that first draw our attention – especially for the nature lovers among us. Did you know that countryside carefully tended by human beings exhibits greater biodiversity than if nature is left to take care of itself? And if we human beings go too far, we can backtrack a few steps. That is what was done in the LIFE Nature Project Wachau, where remnants of oxbow lakes and ponds near Rossatz were permanently reconnected to the Danube. Endangered fish species such as the Danube salmon and the common nase enjoy diverse living conditions again as a result. The section of the Danube Valley known as the Wachau is a UNESCO World Heritage landscape. Its ecological significance comes from its combination of river landscapes, natural forests and dry grassland with traditional

MOST BEAUTIFUL FITNESS STUDIO IN THE WORLD The Vienna Woods UNESCO Biosphere Park is all about the sustainable interplay of nature and humankind. Its gentle slopes line the right-hand bank of the Danube and extend from there far to the south. Its characteristic landscapes are idyllic meadows and open woodlands with sun-drenched vineyards along the edges. Special effort is made here to conserve ecologically valuable, sustainably tended meadows and to preserve core zones where

// INFO BOX Wachau.Hiata – Wine and Hiking Companions Weinhiata is Austrian dialect and refers to guards who once kept watch over the vineyards along the Wachau. The Wachau.Hiata are continuing this tradition. But instead of grapes, they focus on the guests and friends of the Wachau UNESCO World Heritage region. They are certified “Wachau Wine and Hiking Companions.” All of them know and love the region. They attend to the needs of Wachau visitors and show them the Wachau from its friendliest side. The Wachau.Hiata have a set program but can also be booked directly individually or for groups. www.wachau-hiata.at

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the forests are not utilized but left to their own devices. This results in islands of woodlands similar to virgin forests. The abundance of deadwood here may be off-putting to some. However, it is ideal for rare species such as white backed woodpeckers or Bechstein’s bats that need this kind of extensive woodland habitat that is becoming increasingly rare nowadays. Besides it makes for fertile soil for the next generation of trees. The biosphere park is perfect for recreation, too. It is the most scenic fitness studio in the world with its many walking paths and hiking trails, mountain-bike routes, circuits for jogging and fitness walking as well as horse-back riding trails. Nature enthusiasts can select from an extensive choice of excursions ranging from wild herb hikes to guided hikes about bats. The declared objective of the Vienna Woods Biosphere Park is to create a model region where people and nature both have a place. This objective is remarkable in that the park is in the scope of influence of Vienna and even partially within city limits. Nature and civilization are just that close here! FROM BIG CITY TO RIPARIAN JUNGLE Vienna is exemplary as an international city in this regard because even to the east the urban jungle frays into the genuine jungle-like landscape of the Lobau. It is the start of Nationalpark Donau-Auen, which preserves the last extensive riparian zones in Central Europe. The park extends from Vienna to the Slovak border. The Danube is still free-flowing here and is the lifeline of the region. Its level changes dynamically by as much as seven

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meters, constantly reshaping the Danube floodplains. The mighty river creates habitats for a variety of fauna and flora in the process. The national park territory is home to far more than 800 higher plant species, more than 30 species of mammals and 100 species of brooding birds, 8 species of reptiles, 13 species of amphibians and about 60 species of fish. The national park centers give visitors a basic idea of how complex und fragile a river and its floodplains are as an ecosystem. Both the Lobau National Park Center in Vienna and schlossORTH Center in Lower Austria have an interesting multimedia exhibition and an open-air site that afford close looks at flora and fauna. In Orth this site is the castle island, where a protected species of ground squirrels known as susliks, European pond turtles and typical snakes of the region can be admired in natural enclosures. Amphibians and insects have settled there in the meantime. Spring bloomers, rare water plants, wild flowers, woody plants, dry grassland plants and imposing trees all flourish. The highlight is the unique walk-in underwater station, where you can look pike and European mud minnows straight in the eye without getting your feet wet. From the two visitors’ centers, people are invited to explore the surrounding natural wetlands on their own on walking and cycling paths. We make a similar recommendation for the Nationalpark Donau-Auen as we did before: Join one of the tours conducted by park rangers. Some are on foot, others by boat. They take you into the tranquil oxbow lakes, to belling floodplain stags or to nocturnal beavers. 

© Nationalpark Donau-Auen

Jungle so close to the big city: Nationalpark Donau-Auen, a unique natural landscape that begins within Vienna city limits.


impressive // NATURE ALONG THE DANUBE

// INFO BOX Exploring nature along the Danube Upper-Danube and Aschach Valley Flora-Fauna Habitat (FFH), Pesenbach Valley Nature Protection Area Excursions guided by naturalists at set times featuring natural spectacles, most significant protection area along the Donausteig (Danube Trail). Ranna Valley Nature Protection Area A bit of untouched nature characterized by rock runs with barren soil where mosses and lichens thrive; a Natura 2000 nature protection area. Machland Nord Natura 2000 area with wetlands, farmland, natural meadows and semi-dry grasslands. Traun-Danube Wetlands FFH and Bird Sanctuary Bio-diverse natural eco-system in central Upper Austria www.donausteig.com | www.ausflugstipps.at | www.naturschauspiel.at Jauerling Nature Park Nature Park Center in Jauerling and BIOthek Nature Park in Spitz. At a local restaurant, you can taste just how diverse nature is in this area. And the view of the Wachau from the terrace of the Nature Park Center is stunning. www.naturpark-jauerling.at | www.naturpark-gasthaus.at Welterbesteig Wachau (Wachau World Heritage Trail) Probably one of Austria’s most scenic long-distance hiking trails. This 180 km long trail is divided into 14 legs and is a wonderful way to explore the countryside and history of the Wachau. www.welterbesteig.at WWF March Wetlands Nature Reserve & Marchegg Stork Center Stork fans can find out the latest news about this unique stork colony at the Stork Center at Marchegg Castle. www.wwf.at/storchenhaus Vienna Woods Biosphere Park In 2005, UNESCO designated the Vienna Woods a biosphere park in recognition of its special cultural and natural landscapes. www.bpww.at

Nationalpark Donau-Auen Did you know that part of this national park for protecting the Danube wetlands is located in Vienna? It is called the Lobau and is the “jungle” of the Viennese. Tip: Hop aboard the national park boat in downtown Vienna and ride it to the wetlands. Then join the forest rangers on their rounds. www.donauauen.at | www.nph-lobau.wien.at Mannersdorfer Wüste Nature Park Lower Austrian protection area in the Danube drainage basin. Former monastic complex, still walled. An inviting place to stroll and cycle with its alleys, ponds, orchards and oak-hornbeam forests. www.naturparke-noe.at/mannersdorf-wueste

// T  IPS Events & Tours 24-hour hike on October 17/18, 2015 Legend Hike on Donausteig (Danube Trail) with Helmut Wittmann on September 13, 2015 Orth Wild Garlic Festival (early April) Nationalpark Donau-Auen: Inflatable boat tours, riverside strolls and rides through the national park on a tschaike – an historical Danube boat from around 1530 – or special theme guided hikes with national park rangers such as “Glow, little glowworm!” or “With a Forester in the Danube Wetlands”, www.donauauen.at House on the River Guided hikes in the Danube Valley, www.hausamstrom.de “Heroes of the Danube” Natural Spectacle Combined land and zille expedition in Pesenbach Valley in Upper Austria. A zille is a flat-bottomed boat common to the region. www.donauerfahren.at | www.naturschauspiel.at Lower Austrian Exhibition 2015 “ÖTSCHER:REICH – The Alps and Us” 15 ÖTSCHER:REICH stations invite you to explore the history of the region on site: History of woodcutters, hidden nooks and crannies during village tours, the most scenic view in the Ötscher region and much more. www.noe-landesausstellung.at

© Monika Löff

© Nationalpark Donau-Auen/Rita Newman, Vienna Woods Biosphere Park/Nowak, Nationalpark Donau-Auen/Stefaner

Rangers show you all creatures great and small that live in the Vienna Woods Biosphere Park.

Lainzer Tiergarten (Lainz Animal Park) Natura 2000 nature protection area located in the Vienna Woods. Popular place to take walks and known for its wild pigs, stags and mouflons. www.lainzer-tiergarten.at

Legend hike with the fascinating story teller Helmut Wittmann (to the left).

DANUBE magazine 2015 // 17


The Aufreiter Winery is also devoted to the Wachau apricot and its processing and has even set up an apricot educational trail.

THE PLEASURES OF RIDING THE WAVES GOURMETS ARE ALSO DRAWN BY THE SEDUCTIVE SONG FROM THE DANUBE WAVES. FRUITS AND SPICES HAVE BEEN TRANSPORTED FOR CENTURIES ON THIS, THE SECOND LONGEST RIVER IN EUROPE AND HAVE LEFT DELICIOUS TRACES. The monasteries were the right address for discriminating palates even back in medieval times. Traveling downstream on the Danube­, your first stop should be just a few kilometers from the city of Passau – as a precaution for dealing with further stations. The Trappist monks at Engelszell Abbey brew not only excellent beer but also a bitter-sweet herbal liqueur. It is based on a secret recipe of curative herbs from a Swiss pharmacist – a genuine boon comprising 42 herbs, roots and plants, from galangal to bog bean and common St John‘s wort. With a little bottle like this in your luggage you can blithely carry on with your travels. Many a culinary delight lies hidden beyond the Danube meanders and their wooded banks. One sweet escapade takes you to Hochland Imker, beekeepers in Pfar-

18 // DANUBE magazine 2015

rkirchen in Mühlkreis; a second hearty leap takes you to delicious cheese from Christian Somann and his goats in Esternberg. There is so much to discover: freshly caught fish and finely-beaded cider plus award-winning pear frizzante at Aumüller, a fish restaurant in Obermühl. Fine brandies await you at Bruckwirt and at Karl Langmayr in Pupping near Eferding. And Eferding immediately brings to mind vegetables – it is one of Austria’s 100+ “GenussRegionen”, each known for delightful regional culinary specialties. A short visit to the Achleitners’ organic farm is always worthwhile. The fresh delicacies from the open-view kitchen alone are reason enough to stop by. After so many healthy pleasures, it is time to indulge again in some­thing sweet. What better place than in Linz? And what better sweet treat than the Linzer torte, considered the oldest one in the world, having been mentioned in “Buech von allerley Eingemach­ ten Sachen”, a cookbook from 1653. The original is served by Konditorei Jindrak at eight different addresses including of course its main location on Herrenstrasse. How practical! Yet the Danube waves beckon for us to continue our travels. Rightfully so, at Perg we already see the first vineyards of the local winemaker

© WGD Donau Oberösterreich Tourismus GmbH/Hochhauser, Lukas Ilgner, Donau Niederösterreich/Steve Haider, Florian Voggeneder

Snack featuring “most”, a word in Austrian dialect that means fermented cider, in this case pear cider or perry, in Obermühl, Upper Austria, at Aumüller, a fish restaurant.

Andreas Gugumuck, the innovator in the Vienna escargot tradition. Below and to the right: Wachau saffron.


culinary // DANUBE DELIGHTS Wine is one of the enjoyable products of international renown from the Danube region. For instance, the Wachau winemaker Nikolaus Saahs was awarded 100 points in 2014 for his 1995 Riesling by the legendary wine critic Robert M. Parker Jr. This is the first perfect Parker score ever for an Austrian wine.

Leo Gmeiner. Then, we enjoy a few slices of melt-in-your mouth bacon­from the Gassner family at Bad Kreuzen. Next we come upon a place where sailors once sent hurried prayers heavenward: the Strudengau, a narrow passage in the Danube Valley. The name comes from the German word “strudel” which designates not only a sweet dessert like apple strudel but also whirlpools in a river. After the Danube strudel, the strudel at Schörgi in the town of Grein is a welcome and enjoyable treat – naturally, with a view of the Danube. In the Nibelungengau, the river shows its gentle side. The pilgrimage church of Maria Taferl greets us from on high and many pilgrims stop at the Käsehütte (cheese hut) of Karl Stix, a champion for the preservation of small, local cheese dairies.

© Donau Niederösterreich/Dr. Franz Hauleitner

SAFFRON AND DANUBE SALMON Preserving and tracking down old traditions is something many individuals along the Danube have taken to heart. Saffron, for instance, was known in the Wachau at the time of the Crusades. Today it is available again from Bernhard Kaar in Dürnstein. He gives tours, delicious samples and even tips for cultivating this specialty. First-class fish farms have also popped up along the Danube shore and supply not only the top restaurants in the area. Wagram trout from Karl and Helga Hengl in Eggendorf is a benchmark for fish lovers, as is the fish farm of Monika and Johann Haimel in Traismauer, where fish is smoked every Friday! The well-stocked vinotheques along the Danube are likewise worth investigating thoroughly. They range from the baroque Domäne Wachau, where all the important single vineyards are represented, to Weritas in Kirchberg with the best vintages from the Wagram wine region. Another is Michaela Gansterer’s vinotheque Zum goldenen Anker in Hainburg, which features more than 50 fine wines from the Carnun­tum wine region. ESCARGOT AND FIGS Vienna has a luxury found nowhere else in the world: over 700 hectares of vineyards. In Austrian dialect the new wine is known as “heuriger” (heurig = this year). “Heuriger” is also the name for the establishments throughout eastern Austria that local winegrowers are allowed to operate and at which they can sell their own wine and simple fare to the public. This legendary heuriger culture is increasingly augmented by further types of restaurants, creating a fruitful mixture that benefits all wine lovers. Another unusual but true fact is that Vienna also has a tradition as a mecca for escargot cultivation. To the south of Vienna, Andreas Gugumuck has transformed a 400 year-old farmstead into an escargot farm. He gives tours and even stages his own escargot festival in the autulife-longfar from him, Harald Thiesz and Ursula Kujal have made a life-time dream come true. On their fig farm they produce 25 varieties of figs along with fresh organic vegetables and 200 different types of herbs. The specialty vinegars from Erwin Gegenbauer’s Vinegar Brewery in Vienna are additional enjoyable items that people can experience and taste during tours. These products are delivered to top restaurants and have caused a furor internationally. All gourmets have to do is follow the mighty Danube. 

// INFO BOX Several Delicious Addresses along the Danube Engelszell Abbey: Beer and liqueur | www.stift-engelszell.at Aumüller Fish Restaurant, Obermühl: Fish, most (fermented cider) | www.fischgasthof.at Landgasthof Dieplinger, Pupping: Schnaps | www.langmayr.at Bruckwirt, Obermühl: Schnaps | www.bruckwirt.at Achleitner Organic Farm, Eferding: Vegetables | www.biohof.at Konditorei Jindrak, Linz: Linzer torte | www.linzertorte.at Gmeiner Winery, Perg: Wine from Upper Austria (!) | weinbau-gmeiner.at Hochland Imker, Pfarrkirchen: Honey | www.diehochlandimker.at Somann, Esternberg: Cheese | www.somann.at Speck-Alm, Bad Kreuzen: Bacon and other savory organic treats | www.speck-alm.at Café & Konditorei Schörgi, Grein: Ice-cream, desserts | www.schoergi.at Aufreiter Winery, Krems-Angern: Wachau apricots | www.weinhof.at Marillenhof Kausl, Mühldorf: Apricots | www.marillenhof.at Wachau Saffron Manufactory, Dürnstein: Saffron products | www.crocus-austriacus.at Hengl Trout Farm, Eggendorf: Wagram trout | www.wagramforellen.at Haimel Fish Farm, Traismauer: Trout, Danube salmon | fischzucht-haimel.jimdo.com Weritas, Kirchberg: Local vinotheque | www.weritas.at Zum goldenen Anker, Hainburg: Vinotheque | www.goldeneranker.at Sulzmann & Sulzmann, Mannsdorf: Aspargus and strawberries | www.sulzmann.at Solo Select, Magoschitz Family, Mannsdorf: Marchfeld asparagus | www.solo-select.at Domäne Wachau, Dürnstein: Wachau wines | www.domaene-wachau.at Bittermann – Vinarium Göttlesbrunn: Wines | www.bittermann-vinarium.at Wiener Feigenhof, A-1110 Vienna: Fig products and trees | www.feigenhof.at Wiener Schnecke, A-1100 Vienna: Escargot | www.wienerschnecke.at Wien Wein, A-1210 Vienna: Six renowned Viennese wineries | www.wienwein.at Wiener Essig Brauerei, A-1100 Vienna: Vinegar | www.gegenbauer.at

Best ever: Linzer torte from Konditorei Jindrak in Linz.

Superbly brewed: Beer from Trappist monks of Engelszell Abbey.

DANUBE magazine 2015 // 19


CLEMENS HELLSBERG INTERVIEW CONDUCTED BY FRITZ GILLINGER

The members of the Vienna Philharmonic do much to shape the image of Austria in the world. Do you consider this orchestra to be part of the Austrian identity – and in this respect, comparable to the Danube? Clemens Hellsberg I cannot answer that question objectively because I hope and wish almost too much that we are part of the Austrian identity. Of course, I am happy about us being compared to the Danube. You have said your philosophy is this: “The arts – and music in particular – convey a sense of eternity.” Isn’t the never-ending flow of the Danube also a beautiful meta­ phor for eternity? And: does the idea of eternity make you free or fill you with fear? Clemens Hellsberg Flowing water – whether in the form of a brook or a mighty river – has always fascinated me: my first encounter with eternity beyond a doubt. And the idea of eternity awakens a longing in me – just as flowing water always has and continues to. You crisscross the globe with your fellow members of the Vienna Philharmonic. You also see many rivers. How would you classify the Danube among the rivers of the world? Clemens Hellsberg It is the main artery of Europe for me. The Danube is a river that has been much extolled in music­and the arts. What musical homage to the Danube do you find the most fitting? Clemens Hellsberg Johann Strauss’s triad of The Blue Danube, The Danube Mermaid and By the Shores of the Danube – a unique homage to a unique river. How can people sing about the Danube or play its melodies without becoming clichéd? Clemens Hellsberg By being a genius like Johann Strauss.

20 // DANUBE magazine 2015

Is there a special experience that creates a bond between the Vienna Philharmonic and the Danube? Clemens Hellsberg The Blue Danube. Even though the melody was not originally dedicated to the Danube – it is an exhilarating challenge each time to do justice to the nobility of this “secret national anthem of Austria.” You were born in Linz and your family soon moved to Vienna, yet another city on the Danube. Have you always had a special relationship with this river? What was your first conscious encounter with the Danube? Clemens Hellsberg A trip on a ferry in Obermühl in the late 1950s. Gliding over the surface of the water felt like walking on water to me; and besides, as I climbed aboard to cross the river I was convinced I would see the Danube mermaid. The dis­ appointment I felt was similar to the one I had about five years later when I saw a Karajan production of “Siegfried” at the State Opera and instead of the dragon Fafnir appearing on stage, all you saw was steam. Can you tell us two or three of your favorite places along the Danube? Clemens Hellsberg The meander in the Danube at Schlögen as well as Niederranna and Obermühl. Given your choice: Do you prefer cycling along the river on the Danube Cycle Path or traveling by water on a Danube ship? Clemens Hellsberg After a serious injury from a fall (as a pedestrian), cycling is no longer an option for me. You have been giving a benefit concert for many years now at Altenhof Castle in Mühlkreis for the MHDA, an auxiliary service organization of the Knights of Malta in Austria. What connection do you have with Altenhof Castle? And: Will Clemens Hellsberg and his sons Dominik and Benedikt be playing at Altenhof Castle again in 2015? Clemens Hellsberg We have been friends with Count Salburg for decades. The first concert at Altenhof in 1981 arose from this friendship. I am also deeply impressed by the social work the Knights of Malta do. And I hope that my sons will be artistically satisfied enough with me again in 2015 (and beyond) that they continue to accept my being present with them at Altenhof.

© Tauber-Romieri

CLEMENS HELLSBERG, A NATIVE OF LINZ, IS THE FIRST VIOLINIST IN THE VIENNA PHILHARMONIC AND WAS PRESIDENT OF THE ORCHESTRA FOR 17 YEARS. HE FEELS A DEFINITE CLOSENESS TO THE DANUBE EVEN THOUGH HE HAS STILL NOT ENCOUNTERED THE LEGENDARY DANUBE MERMAID ...


interview // DANUBE CELEBRITIES

// INFO BOX CLEMENS HELLSBERG Biography Clemens Hellsberg (62) was born in Linz but his family soon moved to Vienna. The violinist and graduate musicologist is the first violinist of the Vienna Philharmonic and served as its president from 1997 to 2014. Hellsberg also performs in various chamber music ensembles (inter alia, Trio Hellsberg with his two sons Dominik and Benedikt).

Clemens Hellsberg at one of his favorite spots along the Danube in Upper Austria: at Niederranna in front of Altenhof Castle, where the world-class violinist has been giving benefit concerts for many years.

DANUBE magazine 2015 // 21


© WGD Donau Oberösterreich Tourismus GmbH/Weissenbrunner

// Rad Total (Nothing but Bicycles)

© WGD Donau Oberösterreich Tourismus GmbH/Weissenbrunner

The annual “Rad Total” in the Danube Valley (Nothing but Bicycles) opens the season, attracting thousands of cyclists to the Danube Cycle Path in Upper Austria. All communities along the Danube between Passau and Schlögen take part, offering a diverse line-up of events for the occasion. www.radtotal.at | April 19, 2015 www.donauradweg.at

// Donau in Flammen (Danube in Flames) The Danube is the focal point of an unusual event staged three times. Donau in Flammen (“Danube in flames”) features Bengal light and fireworks on the shore synchronized with thematically matching music and lit under the banner of Danube legends. www.donauinflammen.com | May 23, June 5, August 14, 2015

© WGD Donau Oberösterreich Tourismus GmbH/Erber

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// Art and Culture in Special Settings Art and culture of varying genres can be experienced in special settings along the Danube. For instance, donauFESTWOCHEN offers performances of rare operas at Greinburg Castle again in 2015, its 20th anniversary. Clam Fortress, for its part, is well-known as a venue for open-air concerts. The Danube is also a major focal point in 2015 for Linz, where there will be a variety of events on the riverbanks. They include Bubble Days in the Linz port, the Linz Fest and the Klangwolken events in Donaupark as well as the Ars Electronica Festival. © Brandner Schiffahrt, ARGE Donau

www.donaukultur.at | www.clamconcerts.at www.bubbledays.at | June 5 and 6, 2015 www.linzfest.at | June 23 to 25, 2015 www.donau-festwochen.at | July 31 to August 16, 2015 www.aec.at | September 3 to 7, 2015 www.klangwolke.at | September 5/12/13, 2015

Being mobile in Upper Austria  onauschiffahrt Wurm+Köck 01 D

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Scheduled service Passau–Linz–Vienna www.donauschiffahrt.de Schifffahrt Donau Touristik www.donaureisen.at P  assau Hauptbahnhof (main station) www.oebb.at L  inz Hauptbahnhof (main station) www.oebb.at D  onauuferbahn Linz–Grein (rail line along Danube) www.oebb.at D  onauschiffahrt Ardagger www.donauschiffahrt-ardagger.at

Being mobile in Lower Austria  achau Schifffahrt 06 W

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www.brandner.at Being mobile in Vienna www.ddsg-blue-danube.at W  achau Linien (bus lines)  anube Canal, Twin City Liner 11 D www.n-mobil.at Station www.twincityliner.com R  ental Bikes from “nextbike”  ort of Vienna/Handelskai (DDSG) 12 P www.nextbike.at Scheduled service Vienna–Wachau www.ddsg-blue-danube.at W  achaubahn (rail line) www.noevog.at/wachaubahn  auptbahnhof (main train station) 13 H www.hauptbahnhof-wien.at R  adexpress Donau (Vienna to Passau by train and bicycle) 14 W  estbahnhof (west train station) www.erlebnisbahn.oebb.at www.bahnhofcitywienwest.at


points of departure // DANUBE LIFE

// Kultur.Landschaft.Wachau The Wachau is a unique gesamtkunstwerk and a meeting place of choice for gourmets from around the world. As one of Austria’s earliest settled areas, the Wachau was extensively shaped by human hand and became a UNESCO World Heritage landscape in 2000. Along with the impressive cultural legacy, a lively contemporary culture scene has emerged in recent years in this region.

© Niederösterreich-Werbung/K. M. Westermann

Donaufestival: www.donaufestival.at | April 24 to 26 & April 30 to May 3, 2015 Glatt & Verkehrt: www.glattundverkehrt.at | July 3 to 26, 2015 Sommerspiele Melk: www.sommerspielemelk.at | June to August 2015 Kunstmeile Krems: Caricature Museum Krems and Kunsthalle Krems: www.kunsthalle.at | Open year-round Grafenegg Castle: www.grafenegg.com | Open year-round Schallaburg: www.schallaburg.at | March 28 to November 8, 2015

// Donaukanaltreiben

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A Vienna festival featuring music, art and culture along the Danube Canal, a lively area in central Vienna. About 15 locations, high-caliber national and international music acts, Strandbar and much more. www.donaukanaltreiben.at

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Wine gives rise to two additional seasons along the Danube in Lower Austria. Weinfrühling and Weinherbst are celebrations of wine and spring and of wine and autumn, respectively, and offer hundreds of opportunities for sampling and experiencing wine in events full of tradition and variety.

© WienTourismus/Christian Stemper

www.donau.com/weinstrassen

// Song Contest 2015 Thanks to Conchita Wurst the 60th Eurovision Song Contest will be staged at the Vienna Stadthalle on May 23, 2015. Its motto: “Building Bridges.” It is the largest music competition worldwide and THE European TV event, attracting 180 million viewers. One month later comes the next mega-event for music in Vienna: Donauinselfest (Danube Island Festival).

© Julian Laidig

// Weinfrühling & Weinherbst

www.eurovision.tv | www.donauinselfest.at

// The Fabulous Four in Marchfeld

// 150th Anniversary of the Ringstrasse Numerous events are held along the Ringstrasse every year. That is the case next year too and in particular, because 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of this, “the most beautiful boulevard in the world.”

Marchfeld is rich in castles. The primary ones besides Schloss Hof are Eckartsau, Marchegg and Orth. Tour groups and individual travelers, individual guests, families and schools can look forward to a variety of offerings and events on the joint themes of region and neighbor­ hood, history and historical figures, nature and gardening as well as adventure and family at all four of these venues! www.schloesserreich.at

ringview.vienna.info/en

DANUBE magazine 2015 // 23

© Kovacs

© Donau Niederösterreich Tourismus Wachau/Lachlan Blair

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BEST OF WACHAU

Photo: steve.haider.com

LIFE’S TRUE PLEASURES

Nature in the Wachau has an abundance of riches and people there draw from the best that nature has to offer. It is no wonder that the top hotels and restaurants in the Wachau have joined together under the »Best of Wachau« quality banner. Their aim is to provide the best of the best to guests interested in rest and recreation, fine wining and dining, and the beauties of nature. Genuine hospitality in the Wachau knows no limits. You find it everywhere – from gourmet temples and country taverns to traditional hotels and rooms in private homes. The enthusiasm of our guests also knows no limits. They return home delighted and spread the word far and wide about the Wachau and its many charms. Donau Niederösterreich Tourismus GmbH | Regional Office Wachau-Nibelungengau-Kremstal Schlossgasse 3, A-3620 Spitz, Austria | Tel +43(0)2713/30060-60

www.bestof-wachau.at

Profile for Donau Oberösterreich

DANUBE. magazine 2015  

High gloss magazine of the Danube region in Austria

DANUBE. magazine 2015  

High gloss magazine of the Danube region in Austria

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