Page 1

SPONSORED BY THE UPPER AUSTRIAN TOURISM BOARD, THE TOURIST BOARD LINZ, AND THE DANUBE UPPER AUSTRIA TOURIST BOARD

UPPER AUSTRIA

JEWEL OF THE DANUBE

FROM THE CHARMING VILLAGES OF THE DACHSTEIN WORLD HERITAGE REGION SALZKAMMERGUT, THE NATURAL BEAUTY OF WOLFGANGSEE AND THE DANUBE TO THE URBAN SOPHISTICATION OF LINZ, UPPER AUSTRIA IS A FEAST FOR THE SENSES This natural bend in the Danube, one of the river’s most majestic parts, is known as Schlögener Schlinge. PHOTO: JOHANN STEININGER


SPECIAL SECTION

UPPER AUSTRIA JOHANN STEININGER

T E X T B Y M I C H A E L T R OY

Surrounded by the Salzkammergut mountains, the White Horse Inn overlooks Lake Wolfgang. THE WHITE HORSE INN/HANNES DABERNIG

The presence of salt explains the wellpreserved artifacts made of wood and cloth, including 7,000-year-old shoes and miners’ backpacks discovered in the 19th century. Because of excavations carried out through the years, archeologists have a remarkably detailed picture of ancient life in the region. Hallstatt’s salt mine, thought to be the oldest in the world, still operates. Part of the mine is open to the public; tours are available April through October. The cable car that takes visitors to the top affords a spectacular view of the lake and surrounding mountains. Only about 900 people live in the town year-round. One is Arnold Lobisser, who

The quaint village of Hallstatt traces back seven millennia, when salt mined here was called “white gold.” DACHSTEIN SALZKAMMERGUT/VIOREL MUNTEANU

A RI Y AN

two-hour train ride, or about one and a half hours by car from Linz or Salzburg. The village is a key site of an early Iron Age culture known as Hallstatt culture, which flourished in Central Europe from the 8th to the 6th centuries b.c. The first settlements of this idyllic village date back almost seven millennia to the salt mines of Neolithic times. “White gold,” as the mineral was known, gave the Salzkammergut its name—literally the “Estate of the Salt Chamber.” Nestled in steep rocky cliffs, Hallstatt is so unique that a replica of it was built in China’s Guangdong province—an inducement for Asian visitors to come to Austria to admire the real thing.

A E G

A

ustria’s lake district, the Salzkammergut, is spectacularly beautiful and home to one of Europe’s oldest pre-Christian civilizations. The landscape boasts snowcapped mountain peaks, long hiking paths, rolling valleys, and the crystalline waters of 76 lakes. The heart of the area, the UNESCO World Heritage region Hallstatt- Dachstein, is easily accessible from Linz or Salzburg. The towns of Hallstatt, Obertraun, Bad Goisern, and Gosau are renown for their natural charm, breathtaking vistas, traditions, and sports—everything from hiking, biking, and skiing to swimming and golf. At the region’s center is Hallstatt, a

e nub Da

LAND OF LAKES, LAND OF DELIGHTS

arrived in the village more than 30 years ago from Graz to marry a local girl. He and CZEC his wife, Verena, run an historic inn and HR Passau AU S T E P. tavern by the lake. With its cozy ambiance R IA and distinctive, timbered interior (enhanced Engelhartszell by Lobisser’s talents as a carpenter), Bräugasthof Lobisser represents the best S10 Schlögener Schlinge of Hallstatt. Further down the lakeshore is R iv the Janu sports shop, which at first seems er 119 more like the quaint mom and pop shops Linz BLUE DANUBE of days gone by until you enter Grein Klam A8 AIRPORT the basement, where the wall Enns St. Florian of a medieval residence 143 Wels A1 A1 A8 and remnants of Roman 309 U S foundations still stand. RM T Steyr U P P E R A U S T R I A A new addition in the famous village is the meticulously and creatively Attersee 140 Gmunden renovated four-star lakeside Traunsee Attersee Mondsee 115 Heritage Hotel. Located strategically Mondsee in the town center, it consists of Salzburg St. Wolfgang three different historic houses, cleverly Wolfgangsee Bad Ischl intertwined, containing 42 newly renovated double rooms and 12 suites, each uniquely styled and furnished, some with stunning vistas of the famous lake. Each house has a Hallstatt Hallstätter See special flair and one, Haus Stocker, with its 0 10 20 mi striking stone façade and cast iron window 0 10 20 30 0 km gratings, is the oldest house in the center of Hallstatt. This hotel compound is rapidly MAP BY NICK SPRINGER, SPRINGER CARTOGRAPHICS becoming a popular choice for visitors. The hotel restaurant, with its fine selection of local world-famous vacation destination, especially 86° Fahrenheit. It’s open year-round, so that and international specialties, should not be after the celebrated lakeside hotel The White even less-than-hardy souls can enjoy bathing missed. Horse Inn (Im Weissen Rössl) became the in mid-winter surrounded by the nighttime Lake Wolfgang, or Wolfgangsee as it is setting of the 1930 smash-hit musical comedy reflections of snowfields and mountain called in German, located about 45 minutes of the same name. This family-run hotel is peaks. from Hallstatt, is a smart choice for an more than 100 years old. It consists of nine Yes, the hills of the Salzkammergut are still extended stay. The lake water, a transparent brightly painted, interconnected historic alive with the sound of music, as well as a turquoise rimmed with white sand beaches, houses in the center of the old town—their beguiling present and past.  is a visual treat. Travelers will also gravitate interior walls adorned with memorabilia of to the historic cogwheel steam railway bygone eras and movie stars. Furnishings that For more information, please visit: that chugs its way up from St. Wolfgang, once belonged to the early 20th-century film smithsonian.upperaustria.at past idyllic hiking paths, vast fields of flora, actor Emil Jannings are placed in different Tourism Dachstein Salzkammergut: ancient chapels engulfed by wildly growing rooms throughout the hotel. info@dachstein-salzkammergut.at; dachsteinshrubbery, and traditional taverns offering The White Horse Inn is St. Wolfgang’s salzkammergut.at/en. The White Horse Inn, culinary temptations. center of gravity. It has a “floating pool” set Lake Wolfgang: welcome@weissesroessl.at, Lake Wolfgang has long been a into the lake with a constant temperature of weissesroessl.at/en GE R Y AU M AN S T R IA

In Upper Austria, a visitor can find everything from historical fortresses standing sentry over the winding Danube River, pristine mountain lakes, rugged precipices, quaint inns, and cozy taverns to the capital city of Linz, which successfully combines the old and new. It’s an enticing destination for the discerning traveler.

S L O VA K I A Bratislava

Budapes es H U N G A RY


SPECIAL SECTION

UPPER AUSTRIA LINZ TOURISMUS/JOHANN STEININGER

A CAPITAL SOJOURN

S

trategically located along the Danube River, Linz was for almost 400 years the sleepy, provincial capital of Upper Austria before it became an industrial hub in the early 20th century. Prior to World War I, it was a small, walled enclave of some 25,000 inhabitants amid the rolling hills surrounding it. Today, Linz is a modern mini-metropolis of about 200,000, with a visionary approach to the future as well as a proud and strong attachment to its past. In 2014 it was accorded the status of UNESCO City of Media Arts. Its early history dates to around 400 b.c., with remains of past settlements found on the outskirts of the city. Churches and monasteries still abound in and around Linz; the influence of the Catholic Church on the city’s history is profound. The Linz Cathedral (Mariendom), built in 1885, is the largest church in Austria and can hold up to 20,000 people. Because of ecclesiastical jealousies, the church tower had to remain 10 feet lower than the more famous St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna. The tower, however, offers something unique: a hermitage, or hermit’s room, which for 700 Euros (around $760) can be rented for a week. It’s the ideal place to discover one’s inner-self—if you can manage the 395 steps to the ascetic hideaway. Judging by the bookings, it seems there is a healthy market for seclusion and introspection. Centrally located near the Danube, Linz’s historical central square is a starting point for strolling through the meandering, mostly pedestrian-only stone streets of the old town that encircles it. The city’s modernity is inescapable, but as one wanders the cobblestone inner city walkways, surrounded by historical buildings and colorful, meticulously restored townhouses, a delightful sense of the past

descends upon the visitor. For those who enjoy discovering things on their own, the old town offers unexpected encounters: palaces quietly, almost unobtrusively, restored to former glory and hidden courtyards with plaques commemorating famous citizens or visitors. There is the stately Mozart house, where, during a short stay in late 1783, the maestro wrote the Linz Symphony. According to legend, it only took him four days to compose it; the symphony premiered the same year in Linz. Also on the west side of the square (to the left, if you are facing the Danube) there is a winding path leading up to the

Schlossberg (city castle), with a grand view over city rooftops; the castle houses an excellent restaurant. It’s the perfect location for an alfresco lunch on the terrace, followed perhaps by a visit to the adjacent art museum. On the east side of the central square is the historic City Hall where one can literally walk over a fascinating floor plan of the entire city. The German mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler, another famous citizen of Linz, lived here from 1612 to 1627. Wandering down toward the Danube from the old town and, diagonally across from it, situated idyllically on the riverbank, is the Lentos Museum with its impressive

Linz Cathedral, Austria’s largest church, offers travelers a secluded place to stay.

art collection, including several Herbert Beyer drawings. Born in Upper Austria, Beyer is a regional icon: a visionary figure of the Bauhaus movement whose ideas profoundly influenced many remarkable personalities, among them Apple founder Steve Jobs. Hotels and inns are plentiful in Linz, and all are hospitable and clean to a high standard. I stayed at the fashionably minimalist and modern Hotel am Domplatz, with a fantastic view of the cathedral and well within walking distance of most inner city highlights. Because Linz is a city of music, an evening visit to the recently opened opera house is something of a must. Operas, operettas, musicals, and concerts are on the agenda throughout the year. It is a

state-of-the-art facility and, despite the 1,000-seat-capacity, still emits a cozy, woodsy charm. The delightful das Anton restaurant serves Austrian specialties as well as imaginative, contemporary cuisine. From late spring to early fall, outdoor cafes line the inner city avenues and the old town features numerous restaurants, bars, and clubs that stay open late for night owls. Josefs Das Stadtbrau along the main street (Landstrasse 49), or the Herberstein in the old town (Altstadt 10), with its lounge-like, historic inner courtyard, provide a good mix of trendy and laid-back coolness. Linz is also noted for its pastry, above all the famous Linzer Torte, considered the world’s oldest-known cake recipe. A stop at Jindrak’s pastry shop is, therefore, essential.

The sun rises over the Linz Castle Museum, famed for its exhibitions on Upper Austrian culture, history, and art. LINZ TOURISMUS/ ANDREAS ROEBL

LINZ TOURISMUS/JOHANN STEININGER

Anyone visiting Linz must also put one special stop on their list, ideally in early morning or late afternoon: the 20-minute ride up to the Pöstlingberg on the historic cogwheel trolley. The stunning, 180-degree panoramic view from city rooftops to the snow-covered peaks of the Austrian Alps is as breathtaking as anything you will ever see. The private, highly respected Anton Bruckner University, situated just below the Pöstlingberg, attracts music students from around the world. The renowned Brucknerhaus concert hall offers many topnotch classical concerts throughout the year. Bruckner, a 19th century composer particularly noted for his symphonies, is, after all, a son of Linz. On the trolley ride back to town, it is advisable to get off one stop before the town square station and pay the Ars Electronica Center a visit. Four floors of stunning exhibitions and installations, including a 45-minute presentation in 8K 3D, is something no serious techie (regardless of age) would want to miss. In the warmer months, the visitor can attach a digital device (like a smartphone or iPad) to an outside terminal, lie back, and watch as a personal light show illuminates the night sky and interprets the music of choice. In late summer, it is the venue for the highly regarded international Ars Electronica Festival. As the Danube flows through Linz, it is certainly worth taking one of the excursion boats like the glorious vintage steamer, the Schönbrunn, to explore the sights along the riverbanks, especially in the warmer months. A popular saying in Austria is: “It all begins in Linz.” There’s so much to do, see, and discover in the Linz area, a return trip or a longer stay is highly recommended.  For more information: linztourismus.at/en


SPECIAL SECTION

UPPER AUSTRIA ÖSTERREICH WERBUNG/BURGSTALLER

TALES AND TRAILS ALONG THE DANUBE

O

ne of most fascinating areas along the Danube’s serpentine path is the Upper Austria region, which begins at the German border near Passau. Be it by boat, car, train, bicycle, or on foot, an extended excursion along this part of the river is full of countless outdoor activities, stunning scenery, and fascinating cultural treasures. Ensconced in the rolling hills lining the Danube’s path are medieval monasteries, ancient, painstakingly restored castles, enticing inns, and cozy traditional taverns, each with compelling tales, many shrouded in mystery, but all the more intriguing for their ambiguity.

Consider the Abbey of Engelszell, which dates back to 1293 and includes a magnificently restored rococoinspired 18th-century church, full of art masterpieces. The abbey also houses a Trappist brewery—one of the few outside of Belgium—that uses only locally grown ingredients for its traditional brews, in strict accordance with Trappist brewing traditions. This special beer is exported to the United States. A little further down the Danube, heading southeast, lie the workshops of two of the last flat-bottom wooden boat (Zille) builders in Austria. They are family-run businesses, still producing three different, hand-made boat models, based

The late-Baroque library at Monastery St. Florian contains 150,000 volumes, most of which predate the 20th century. WGD DONAU OBERÖSTERREICH TOURISMUS GMBH/HOCHHAUSER

Austria, which rises imposingly on a hillside just outside Linz, is an historical and spiritual gem. Guided tours in English take the visitor through the library, St. Florian’s corridor, the grand Marble Hall, the remarkable Altdorfer gallery, the Collegiate church, and the tomb. The monastery has an extraordinary musical heritage, dating back to the 9th century. This fine tradition persists to the present with the renowned St. Florian Boys’ Choir. And the famous church organ, completed in 1774 and one of the most noteworthy in Europe, inspired the compositions of Anton Bruckner, who was organist here from 1848 to 1855. The historic town of Enns is another wonderful discovery. Considered the oldest city in Austria (the first settlements in the area date back 4,000 years), it was accorded

on traditional craftsmanship. Look in on the Zille exhibition of traditional boatbuilding in the vicinity. A restaurant and a modern hotel, situated scenically along the riverbank, are part of this appealing, modern complex, enticing the visitor to stop for a meal or even an overnight. The surrounding countryside is unspoiled and a joy to discover. One of the most spectacular natural sites is the Schlögener Schlinge (Schlinge meaning “noose” in German, in reference to the astounding horseshoe bend the river makes here). The panoramic view from the adjacent hilltop is not to be missed. The Augustine monastery of St. Florian, named for the patron saint of Upper

Built in 1149, castle Burg Clam stands on green grounds, with farmhouses and forests nearby.

The Trappist monks at the Abbey of Engelszell use locally grown ingredients in their beer. BURG CLAM

WGD DONAU OBERÖSTERREICH TOURISMUS GMBH/PETER PODPERA

town privileges in 1212. One imposing landmark, the belfry on its historic central square, was erected between 1564 and 1568, during the reign of Austrian Emperor Maximillian II. Ever consider staying in a one-room hotel? For the adventurous and energetic traveler undaunted by the 71 steps leading up to it, an overnight stay in one of the most unique hotel rooms imaginable can be booked here. It is located in the Enns town tower, 65 feet above the historic central square. The large room has been impressively restored and has every modern convenience. The Danube was not always as easy to navigate as it is today; the notorious whirlpools at the town of Grein were feared by boatmen and travelers for many centuries. Today, after extensive river engineering, this section is one of the most tranquil segments along the Danube. The charming riverside town boasts Austria’s oldest theater and the family-owned Greinburg castle, built between 1488 and 1493. The ducal family still lives there, but parts of it are opened to the public. Another family-owned castle-fortress is Burg Clam, first mentioned in 1149 and owned by the Clam family for 550 years. A personal tour of the castle by Count or Countess Clam can easily be arranged and a sumptuous dinner with the royal hosts can also be booked. In the summer, one can even stay overnight in one of the ornate historic chambers. Many interesting sites are just waiting to be discovered along the Upper Austrian section of the Danube. One can ride on the popular Danube cycle path the entire 330 kilometers (205 miles) from Passau all the way down to Vienna. The scenic route along the river is full of hospitable taverns and traditional, comfortable inns. Hikers will delight in the breathtaking Donausteig, a hiking trail along the river, with its 450 kilometers (280 miles) of verdant paths for all ages and abilities.

AVALON CRUISE Avalon’s new Active Discovery cruises offer a world of possibilities to experience the upper Danube. Choose the excursions and activities that appeal to you most—like hiking from Linz up Mount Pöstlingberg, jogging between famous landmarks in Vienna, biking east of Linz to an ancient Roman border defense fort, walking along the route that smugglers took during World War II across the closed border between Austria and Germany, or even canoeing down the Danube and its tributaries. You will experience the Old World in a brand new way. • Starting at price: $3,769† • avalonwaterways.com/active Per person land/cruise only price, based on double-occupancy in base category cabin. Price does not include air. (Air-inclusive pricing available.) †

One charming and thoroughly relaxing alternative is to travel on comfortable, modern Danube cruise ships, with floorto-ceiling cabin windows. These ships stop at the most popular sites. In the summer months various tour boats also cruise along the river on a daily basis. Go with the flow: The Danube makes for a timeless experience.  For more information: donauregion.at/en


SPONSORED BY THE UPPER AUSTRIAN TOURISM BOARD, THE TOURIST BOARD LINZ, AND THE DANUBE UPPER AUSTRIA TOURIST BOARD

UPPER AUSTRIA

JEWEL OF THE DANUBE

FROM THE CHARMING VILLAGES OF THE DACHSTEIN WORLD HERITAGE REGION SALZKAMMERGUT, THE NATURAL BEAUTY OF WOLFGANGSEE AND THE DANUBE TO THE URBAN SOPHISTICATION OF LINZ, UPPER AUSTRIA IS A FEAST FOR THE SENSES This natural bend in the Danube, one of the river’s most majestic parts, is known as Schlögener Schlinge. PHOTO: JOHANN STEININGER

AS SEEN IN SMITHSONIAN JOURNEYS

Upper Austria - Jewel of the Danube  
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you