0 2 0 2 / 9 1 0 2 14 SMALL HISTORIC TOWNS IN AUSTRIA SEE EXPERIENCE ENJOY SMALL HISTORIC TOWNS www.khs.info
SMALL HISTORIC TOWNS WHAT MAKES US STAND OUT: Well-preserved historic townscapes Heritage buildings and landmarks Spectacular surrounding landscapes Scheduled tours with qualiﬁed guides Varied, high-quality events and shows Traditional weekly markets Traditional crafts in that you can experience ﬁrst-hand Tourist attractions and experiences Lively cultural programmes Reﬁned cuisine Unique shopping Medieval town charters Populations of less than 45,000 SMALL HISTORIC TOWNS IN AUSTRIA Stadtplatz 27 | 4402 Steyr | Austria Tel. +43/(0)72 52 / 522 90 email@example.com | www.khs.info
EXPLORE EACH TOWN IN 48 HOURS ... SEE EXPERIENCE ENJOY EDITORIAL / MAP 1 BADEN bei WIEN The furnished garden 2 BAD ISCHL Tradition and modernity 3 BAD RADKERSBURG Walking and cycling 4 BLUDENZ A wealth of possibilities 2 – 3 4 – 11 12 – 19 20 – 27 28 – 35 5 BRAUNAU am INN Charm and comfort on the Inn river 36 – 43 6 BRUCK a. d. MUR Nature and culture combined 7 FREISTADT A Varied History 8 GMUNDEN A stylish town of leisure 9 HALLEIN The salt of life 10 JUDENBURG Flying high 11 KUFSTEIN Easy-going streets 14 RADSTADT A break with a view 15 SCHÄRDING Baroque treasure trove 16 STEYR When culture’s your fancy AUSTRIA CLASSIC TOUR 44 – 51 52 – 59 60 – 67 68 – 75 76 – 83 84 – 91 108 – 115 116 – 123 124 – 131 132 – 133 1
Markus Deisenberger, freelance journalist; lives and works in Salzburg and Vienna Dear travellers, connoisseurs and friends of the SMALL HISTORIC TOWNS of Austria, It typically takes about two days for visitors and tourists to get to know a town. With help from tourism experts and local guides I have thoroughly explored each of these fourteen SMALL HISTORIC TOWNS and am delighted to offer you my selection of ”HIGHLIGHTS” for a two-day visit to each town. Bregenz A14 A12 Bludenz A12 Kufstein Innsbruck A13 I hope you have an enriching experience in discovering every one of these towns. I am sure you will enjoy the wealth of cultural offerings, spectacular sights, wonderful landscapes, fascinating events and culinary delights as much I did. Markus Deisenberger 2
SMALL HISTORIC TOWNS Schärding A8 Linz A7 Braunau A25 A1 Salzburg Hallein Gmunden Bad Ischl A10 Radstadt A5 A3 A4 A6 Eisenstadt Freistadt Wien A1 St. Pölten A21 Steyr A9 Baden bei Wien A2 Bruck an der Mur Judenburg Graz A2 A9 Bad Radkersburg Klagenfurt A2 A11 fourteen SMALL HISTORIC TOWNS are waiting to be discovered. 3
BADEN BEI WIEN Lower Austria 1 Anton Stoll. My visit is coming to an end. And now I ﬁnd out that Baden also has a “Naschmarkt” (snack market). What used to be purely a produce market now also offers cuisine: fresh and healthy food, regional delicacies, and a top-quality ﬁshmonger who used to operate out of the Vienna Naschmarkt. Relax, enjoy some art, and eat good food. Baden is a place of relaxation that you can visit many times in a year, and that is exactly what I envision for myself. With a bottle of Baden wine and some delicious Beethoven pralines, I embark on my journey home promising to return. To hear Roedelius by moonlight, to visit the Baden Hauervinothek winery and taste the region’s wines, or to go out boozing in one of the typical wine taverns in which Mozart might even have once enjoyed a tipple – who knows? Further recommendations: The La Gacilly Baden photography festival: The biggest open air photography festival in Europe takes place in the town of Baden near Vienna from June to September. The best photographers in the world present a fascinating range of images at an open air gallery which is four kilo- metres in length, in which garden design and photogra- phy design blend together. With the aesthetic magic of 36 picture stories in 2,000 photographs on canvas screens which are up to 300 m² in size, the gardens, side streets and squares transform Baden into a “picture town”. Topic for 2019: “Hymn to Planet Earth” Genussmeile: The longest bar in the world! You can walk along the 1. Wiener Wasserleitungswandersweg (1st Viennese waterway footpath) between Mödling and Bad Vöslau enjoying the wines and local delicacies of the region. Tourist Information Baden Brusattiplatz 3, A-2500 Baden bei Wien Tel. + 43 / (0)22 52 / 868 00-600 www.tourismus.baden.at THINGS TO SEE Arnulf Rainer Museum arnulf-rainer-museum.at Beethovenhaus beethovenhaus-baden.at Fotofestival La Gacilly Baden-Photo festival-lagacilly-baden.photo THINGS TO DO Casino Baden casinos.at Bühne Baden buehnebaden.at Roman baths Baden roemertherme.at EATING AND DRINKING Marktamt marktamt.at El Gaucho elgaucho.at Cuisino casinos.at/de/baden/restaurants Herwig Gasser – Süßes vom Feinsten suessesvomfeinsten.eu WHERE TO STAY Hotel Admiral hotel-admiral.at Hotel Herzoghof hotel-herzoghof.at At the Park atthepark.at Hotel Schloss Weikersdorf schlossweikersdorf.at Hotel Sacher Baden hotelsacherbaden.com SHOPPING Baden city centre baden.at Badener Zuckerlecke katiescakes.at Badener Hauervinothek (wine) hauervinothek.at Produce market fruits, vegetables & delicatessen Brusattiplatz, 2500 Baden bei Wien 11
Keeping my earlier promise to myself, I stop in at Attwenger for lunch and learn that Bruckner was also a regular customer here. Local trout in almond butter makes my impending departure even more difﬁcult. I receive a blessing for my upcoming journey home from the parish church of St. Nicholas, which proves to have been a good move, as the majestic organ on which Bruckner played when he resided here was being tuned while I was there. A truly unique experience. What remains is my certainty that I am not here for the last time. I’ll be back, if “only” to enjoy a spa treatment, or ﬁnally to have a custom pair of lederhosen made. One that will last for life. Further recommendations: Goldener Ochs: four-star hotel with an excellent restaurant that is known for its ﬁsh and game dishes. Franz Lehár also enjoyed eating here. (Kaiser Kaiserfesttage festival) 11 – 18 August “It’s all about the Kaiser!”: the 18th of August is the cel- ebration of the Emperor’s birthday, when Habsburg nos- talgia ﬁlls the whole town. Bittner Hüte: one of the most traditional milliners in Aus- tria. Traditional and hunting hats have been made here by hand since 1862. EurothermenResort Bad Ischl: The right place to combine relaxation, wellbeing, and tranquility. Tourismusverband Bad Ischl Auböckplatz 5, A-4820 Bad Ischl Tel. + 43 / (0)6132 / 277 57 ofﬁce@badischl.at, www.badischl.at BAD ISCHL Upper Austria 2 THINGS TO SEE Kaiservilla & Kaiserpark kaiservilla.at Photography Museum/ Marble Palace landesmuseum.at Town Museum stadtmuseum.at Lehár Villa stadtmuseum.at Villa Rothstein/PKS viktor-schauberger.at Museum of Vehicles, Technology, and Aviation fahrzeugmuseum.at THINGS TO DO Hausberg Katrin katrinseilbahn.com Siriuskogl siriuskogl.at EurothermenResort Bad Ischl eurothermen.at City tours badischl.at EATING AND DRINKING Landgasthaus zur Nocken Toni nockentoni.at Grand-Café u. Restaurant Zauner zauner.at k.u.k. Hofbeisl zu Ischl kukhofbeisl.at Stehbeisl stehbeisl.at WHERE TO STAY Hotel Royal eurothermen.at Goldenes Schiff goldenes-schiff.at SHOPPING Trachten Schauer (est. 1895) schauer-moden.at Bittner Hüte (est. 1862) bittner.co.at Tausch Lebkuchen ischler-lebkuchen.at Lodenfrey trachten-modehaus-badischl.at Bad Ischler Originals badischloriginal.at Ischler Gulden/ Shopping cart coins badischl.at 19
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BAD RADKERSBURG Styria 3 RADKERSBURG Walking and BAD cycling With a well-preserved Old Town centre with a Mediterranean flair, bubbling thermal springs, and cosy wine taverns serving top wines from local wineries, Bad Radkersburg has transformed itself from a medieval trading town into a health resort and tourist destination. I have only been here for ten minutes when I make my ﬁrst shopping purchase – this is deﬁnitely a new record for my town tours. But when I see a stall selling pump- kinseed oil at wholesale prices, I can’t pass it by without buying a generous supply of this liquid gold. It is not only pumpkinseed oil that is on offer here at the Friday market – its companion the scarlet runner bean is also for sale, as are other delicacies from the farms and farm shops of the region, including pumpkin products, fruits, fruit juices, meat, sausages, vegetables, and more. Once again I’m in luck, having arrived in town on the day that the main square turns into a market, and the whole town is up and about. So I wander from stall to stall – an activity that, in Bad Radkersburg, is synonymous with immersing oneself in its history, as the town’s market tradition is a very old one. In the late middle ages, the town, situated as it was at the crossroads of important trade routes, was one of the most important trading centres in Styria. The fact that The three-storey heritage- protected renaissance arcade courtyard of the Herberstorff Palace is pure romanticism. 21
… wines, guilds, and culture … it was exempt from taxes and tolls, and had a wine pre- emption right, also helped turn the town into a trading hub over the centuries. And this must all have taken place in the market square in those days – I am told that honey and other commodities were sold here by the ton, week in and week out. Bad Radkersburg, which is located close to the Slovenian border, also held strategic importance. Its massive, well- preserved circular walls with their bastions and ‘curtains’ (the name for the parts of wall between the bastions) are still impressive today. Indeed, the townscape of today looks essentially like it did in the 13th century, when the local ruler ordered the town to be constructed. The good condition of the fortiﬁcations is also due to the fact that they were modernised by Italian master builders in the 16th century. Domenico dell’Allio, who also built arsenals and fortiﬁcations in Graz, was personally responsible for the restorations. 22 The main square is the focal point of the town’s rich cultural scene.
Small historic town fresh to the table. However, I go for the locally-sourced wels catﬁsh. And it hits the spot. I have rarely tasted such a tender, white-ﬂeshed wels catﬁsh. As we are in “pump- kinseed country”, it goes without saying that the crunchy pumpkin crumb is delicious. But back to the history of the town: turbulent times, char- acterised by ﬁres and other disturbances, resulted in its gradual decline as a trading town. The Stadtpfarrkirche (town parish church) still bears the marks of the extent of this destruction, as one doesn’t ascend to it as one normally would, but descends because the rubble was simply spread out rather than removed. The nave of the three-aisled gothic basilica rises out of a former military tower. There is a fragment of a fresco by Johannes Aquila on the outer wall of the church. More of his work can be found in the cellar of the Pistor- kaserne, for which the tourist information service has a key. A little later, armed with a key and a torch, I descend into the cellar where the oldest secular frescoes by the master await me as a reward for my efforts. The paintings were only found and uncovered in 1951. The vaulted ceiling is decorated to look like a starry sky. With vivid images, the walls depict tournaments, a stag hunt, a love garden, “cat and mouse” designs, the storm- The nave of the three- aisled gothic basilica arose out of a former military tower. 24
BAD RADKERSBURG Styria 3 ing of a city, and a battle scene. In the area near the ﬂoor, the painting has been destroyed over the centuries, but the sight is fascinating enough as it is, and I can hardly tear myself away. After a short shopping trip through the town centre, I de- cide to take the advice that has been given to me soon- er or later by every local I have met here: I drive to a Buschenschank (wine tavern), and not just to the nearest one, but to the Markowitsch. The mild climate and fertile volcanic soil contribute to the fact that the Tieschen und Klöch growing areas, the region of the renowned Traminer wine grapes, produce top wines every year. Wine-growing has a long tradition in Bad Radkersburg, and can best be appreciated on a wine walk through the Klöch Traminer way, the TAU-Weg der Riede Tieschen walking path, or by purchasing a snack and a glass of wine in a wine tavern. Here I enjoy not only the homemade spreads, marinated scarlet runner bean salad, and home-smoked trout, but also the really welcoming hosts, who make one’s stay as enjoyable as possible. Insider tip: Heckenklescher. This does not – as is mostly meant in the Austrian language – refer to an inferior and acidic wine, but rather to a hybrid type of grape that has traditionally been grown in hedges against the warm wooden walls of a house. The taste is not dissimilar to Uhudler, and it really is quite more- ish. After that, I head off to the Urbani-Vinothek and the Rathaus-Stüberl for a nightcap of some sort. The next day, a long-awaited cycle trip is on the agenda. It takes me over the Mur bridge, which was reopened on 12 October 1969 following the destructive conditions of two world wars. This reopening led to closer relations between Austria and the former Yugoslavia, now Slove- nia, into which the bridge leads. There I cycle along the Mur. Once there were 94 mills along this river, and the Babi c-Mühle presso dates back to this time. My tour conﬁrms why Slovenia is known as one of the “greenest” travel destinations in Europe, and the hills and valleys contain some really demanding routes. The famous vine- yards of the Ljutomer-Ormož region are worth every visit. A wonderful view awaits you at the top of the village of Jeruzalem. And in the baroque church of St Maria is the image of the sorrowful mother of God from Jerusalem, brought back by knights from the Crusades, after which the village was named. A Brettljause (a platter of local meats and cheeses) in the local wine tavern, together with a good glass of wine. This is the life. The wine region surround- ing Bad Radkersburg offers recreation aplenty. 25
BAD RADKERSBURG Styria 3 when I visited – a luxury for someone coming here from Vienna. And a great slide that leads from the inside to the outside area, which plenty of adults also don’t consider themselves above using. Great regional cuisine is on offer in the Türkenloch restaurant. A cosy vaulted ceiling and the many seasonal mushroom dishes on offer mean that I stay longer than I had planned. There is no question that Bad Radkersburg will see me again, Perhaps for the “Anradeln”, an event at which all of Radkersburg, as well as visitors, leap onto their bicy- cles to celebrate the start of spring with cycle trips of vary- ing lengths and intensities. Or at the latest for “Flanieren und RAdieren” (walking and cycling), a music and food festival that takes place over the whole summer, inviting guests to wander through the town when the weather is nice to attend various events. And every Austrian knows what a “cyclist” is: a person in a state slightly beyond tipsiness, brought about by too many glasses of Heck- enklescher. Further recommendations: Herberstorff Palace: The 1583 building possesses the most beautiful renaissance arcade courtyard in the town. Bevog Brewery: With all this wine, one also shouldn’t for- get the wonderful craft beer made by this small brewery. A 45-minute tour follows a tasting of various beers with bread rolls from local farms. Mur meadows: The second-largest contiguous riparian area in Austria after the Hainburger meadows. Natura- 2000-region. Die Spezerei: Here you can experience a cross section from the region – from woolly pig to ﬁne cheeses, together with juices from farms of a ﬁne drop of something. Tourismusverband Region Bad Radkersburg Hauptplatz 14, A-8490 Bad Radkersburg Tel. + 43 / (0)34 76 / 25 45 firstname.lastname@example.org www.badradkersburg.at THINGS TO SEE Herberstorff Palace Museum im alten Zeughaus Stadtpfarrkirche Renaissance fortiﬁcations badradkersburg.at THINGS TO DO Bad Radkersburg cycle region Klöch castle ruins Klöch wine museum Museum im alten Zeughaus badradkersburg.at EATING AND DRINKING Türkenloch tuerkenloch.at Metzgerwirt metzger-wirt.at Brunnenstadl brunnenstadl.at Town cellar Buschenschank Hoamathaus WHERE TO STAY Romantik Hotel im Park hotel-im-park.at Vitalhotel der Parktherme vital-hotel.at Hotel Sporer der Parktherme hotelsporer.at Hotel Toscanina toscanina.at SHOPPING Die Spezerei diespezerei.at Urbani Vinothek urbani-vinothek.at Vinothek Klöch kloech.gv.at Johannes Aquila Handwerkshof 27
BLUDENZ Vorarlberg 4 BLUDENZ A wealth of possibilities Bludenz is a city for nature-lovers. Vorarlberg’s spectacular mountainous landscape lies just a few minutes outside the city. A series of smaller events and festivals works to create a truly unique connection between nature and culture. Bludenz is pure panorama. Silvretta, Rätikon – here, everything is ”just around the corner”. This intoxicating panorama follows you around town, peeking from behind the corner of a rooftop, melding into the cityscape. Why not come join us here, where you can experience the Alps up close and personal. The Muttersberg, the Bludenz lo- cal mountain, is not just a favourite for Sunday afternoon excursions. Since a single track was cleared several years ago, mountain bikers have ﬂocked here. The track con- sists of four diverse sections. It starts off easy but then speeds up and features challenging jumps and obstacles. Sounds exciting. The summit is at exactly 1,401 metres, a fact that is always emphasised. The view from the expansive sun terrace at the Alpengasthof Muttersberg restaurant is phenomenal: The surrounding mountain ranges are arrayed in all their magniﬁcence. The Mond- spitze mountain is a popular destination for sunrise hikes. And I hear that the Sonnenkopf in Klostertal is particu- View of Bludenz and the Rätikon from Muttersberg, Bludenz’s local mountain. 29
…enchanting Alpine city … larly well-loved as a destination for skiing on real, natu- ral snow. After just a few hours in Bludenz, I’ve already resolved to return – for winter skiing no less. Or for the mountain run in June. The Alpengasthof is a wonderful starting point for a num- ber of hikes of various lengths. The hike to the Fraßen- hütte, which takes approximately two hours, is very pop- ular. Today, I’ve decided on a cultural tour, the “Alpine Art Muttersberg” art trail. This outdoor art exhibition, which takes around one-and-a-half hours to visit, has been open since the summer of 2018. Artists from the Vorarlberg region present their perspectives on life in the mountains at six installations along the trail. Some of the installations stand tall and are visible from a distance, while others are inconspicuous and embedded in the nat- ural scenery. An experience. Back in the valley, I put a few of minutes aside to see where “Shakespeare am Berg” (“Shakespeare on the Mountain”) is staged. Shakespeare has now been per- formed in Bludenz for four years, on an open air stage 30 There’s a wonderful view of Bludenz from the Mond- spitze.
in the middle of the woods. This festival, which was launched by Thomas A. Welte, is popular due to its im- pressive backdrop and its exceptional atmosphere. In the summer of 2019, Hamlet is to be performed. But now, even without a play on, it is clear how profound the experience of witnessing top-quality theatre at this location must be. Schillerkopf, Sonnenkopf: I’m astounded and dazzled by the area’s beauty. Back in Bludenz, I try to calm my senses with a proper shopping tour. I start with the weekly market, which I just manage to catch. Everything from fresh fruit and veg to poultry and wine, all produced by farmers in the area, is on offer here on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. Bludenz has long had an established market tradition, given its large urban catchment area, which includes the Walgau, Brandnertal, Great Walsertal, Klostertal and Montafon valleys. In addition to the week- ly market, you can ﬁnd a ﬂea market (every Monday) and – a real treat – the Klostermarkt (abbeys’ market), which takes place annually sometime between early and mid-September and where around thirty abbeys in the Alp region sell their handcrafted products: dairy items, beer, honey, vinegar and oil are on offer, but you can also ﬁnd lamb’s wool pillows, pottery and wax Jesus ﬁgures. There’s an enormous variety, all top quality. But shopping also gives you an appetite. I decide on the Schlosshotel Dörﬂinger. The tender beef stroganoff and the fantastic Fohrenburg beer promptly lift my spirits. No small part is played by its stunning location above the old town, which gives me my second panoramic view of the day. It’s clear that much has been done over the past two years, and much is still being done; the city is being restored and renovated with much attention to detail. In the course of the construction work, not only are the infra- structure, streets and squares being given a makeover, a new hotel, the Tschofen, is also being built in the heart of the historically-listed old town. Opposite the new boutique hotel, Nepomuk, the Saint of Bohemia, surveys the town from his fountain. Nepomuk is the patron saint of silence and forbearance. The city fathers hoped the town’s residents would reﬂect these characteristics, thereby quelling conﬂicts and discord in the city. There’s no hint of these tensions today. BLUDENZ Vorarlberg 4 Creative and delicious creations (from the region) are to be found at the Alpen- Culinary-Street-Food-Festival. Bludenz’s market: Everything produced in the area. 31
Small historic town One of the seven stairways leading up to the Gayenhofen Castle and Church of St. Laurentius. Amann was happy to return home after years of rambling, as she puts it, to be able to cook in this special, cosy and intimate space. The name “mizzitant” is a reference to her time in Vienna, where she ran a well-known restaurant on the Brunnenmarkt. She has remained true to her roots in natural cooking. They don’t use any artiﬁcial ingredients, nor do they use pre-prepared or even partly pre-prepared products. Everything is freshly made. “Convenience” is not what things are about here. A stroll up to Schloss Gayenhofen, the castle standing majestically above town there where the Bludenz fort once stood, is a pleasant digestive aid. The noble von Stern- bach family had it built in 1750. Today it houses the dis- trict government administration. The tenderly manicured, almost enchanted garden is a truly unique place. You almost feel as though you’ve been transported to another time. An excursion to the Church of St. Laurentius is also well worth it. It used to be Bludenz’s local parish church. The onion-domed, almost Swabian-style tower dates back to 1670 and features statues of the apostles and Bludenz’s city crest. The tower of the Church of St. Laurentius, towering over Bludenz’s historic centre and visible for miles. 34
My stay is slowly coming to an end. But wait, there are still a few things to look forward to. That’s right. At the “Herr MUK” cocktail bar, which, incidentally, is run by Denise Amann’s brother Patrick, I have a splendid gin & tonic and raise a glass to the excellent days I have spent in Bludenz. Afterwards, it’s time for me to pick up a few souvenirs and gifts. There is a good selection of products from the region at the tourist ofﬁce: Klostertal mountain herb tea, schnapps, a herb recipe book by the Alchemilla herbalists, stone pine cushions, herbal salt and honey. And the Milka store is directly across the street from the rail station – a world of chocolate extravaganza. It sud- denly becomes clear when I walk in why I was hit with such a strong desire for chocolate when I got off the train the previous day. As a matter of fact, the smell of choco- late drifts through the whole area, even up to about a kilometre away. What we all want are clear thoughts and a soul at ease. But if the head is too clear, then one ought to cloud it up just a little bit with a freshly drawn Fohrenburger or a lovely bit of chocolate. Further recommendations: The Dominican Convent of St. Peter: The convent which is situated in the outskirts of Bludenz is a welcoming place of peace and contemplation with an attractive convent garden. Bludenz Ski Carousel: In Bludenz, no two days of skiing are ever the same. Ten skiing areas with over 200 lifts and some 1,000 kilometres of pistes are a only few mi- nutes‘ drive away. Woodrock Festival: A pleasant alternative to large festi- vals, at which predominantly bands from the region play Alpenstadt Bludenz Tourismus Rathausgasse 5, 6700 Bludenz Tel. + 43 / (0)5552 / 636 21-790 email@example.com, www.bludenz.travel BLUDENZ Vorarlberg 4 THINGS TO SEE Church of St. Laurentius Schloss Gayenhofen Spitalskirche church Oberes Tor and Bludenz City Museum Nepomukbrunnen fountain Riedmiller Monument THINGS TO DO Int. Milka Chocolate Festival Int. Muttersberg Run Alpen Erlebnisbad & Hotel VAL BLU valblu.at EATING AND DRINKING mizzitant mizzitant.at Fohren Center fohren-center.at Restaurant Eichamt eichamt.com Cocktailbar Herr MUK facebook.com/herrmuk Café Dörﬂinger Restaurant Eichamt eichamt.com Alpengasthof Muttersberg muttersberg.at Ristorante Luciano & Lidio ristorante-lucianolidio.at WHERE TO STAY Schlosshotel Dörﬂinger schlosshotel.cc Hotel Herzog Friedrich herzog-friedrich.at Val Blu Resort Spa & Sports valblu.at Hotel Einhorn hotel-einhorn.at SHOPPING Enoteca Cecconi enoteca-cecconi.com Ariane Felice arianefelice.com Herrenbekleidung Heim Mode heim-mode.com Hingucker hingucker.at 35
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BRAUNAU Upper Austria 5 BRAUNAU Charm & comfort on the Inn river Braunau am Inn is ripe for discovery. Here amidst the Innviertel region’s delightful surroundings, the brewer’s and distiller’s craft meets pride in local traditions and a heartfelt sense of hospitality. The result is perfect calm. It’s never a bad idea to start discovering a new city by visiting something truly authentic, and Helmut Bogner is certainly that. The restaurant owner, who has run the Hausbrauerei Bogner in Haselbach for ten years now, has always been partial to beer. When the old Stechl brewery pub, located just outside Braunau’s gates and sadly fallen into disrepair, was put up for sale, he ﬁnally had an opportunity to fulﬁl his long-held dream of owning his own brewery. Bogner bought not only the restaurant, but an old brewery too, and set about putting a great deal of energy, labour and money into restoring it. Today the gastropub is known above all for its Bernstein Weisse. This was the ﬁrst beer they brewed here. Since then they’ve also begun brewing a cloudy, unﬁltered Maerzen and two additional specialities: a bock and an autumnal Herbstbier, the latter of which is a personal favourite of mine. It boasts a rich, dark colour and a delightfully stiff foam, so the head lingers for quite a while. The ﬂavour is 37
…historical treasure on the Inn River… pleasantly bitter but full-bodied, conveying slightly sweet woody notes from the rye that is used. Beer is not all that is on offer here. There’s also a food menu featuring every- thing that you’d expect in a restaurant in the Innviertel region. Typical home-style cooking. Schnitzel, spareribs, pots of liverwurst, and Schweinsbraten, always freshly made. The reasoning is obvious: “People just expect a fresh Schweinsbraten if they’ve come to a brewery pub,” Bogner explains. “So that’s why we offer it, and why it’s always freshly made. If it’s fresh, people order it, and then we need to keep making more of it.” It’s that simple. If that doesn’t strike one’s fancy, how about the homemade Flemish-style beer bread? Many of the restaurant’s guests are Bavarian. They appreciate pubs like this, which hold fast to traditional brewing methods. The picturesque beer garden, with chestnut trees casting shade on the gravelled ground below, is always full in the summer. But people enjoy sitting outside even at this time of year, when the ﬁrst leaves are just falling from the trees. Why? “Because we make everything ourselves. We’re our own republic,” Bogner tells me as I depart. That sounds about right, 38 Bogner Brewery – restaurant and brewery.
I think. A republic with Bogner, an experienced publican and former politician, as its beer-brewing leader. There are two more places of interest not far from the brewery: The pilgrim church of St. Valentine’s, which has just been carefully restored, and the Augenbründl spring just next door. This spring was sought out and visited by pilgrims and residents of the surrounding area alike from the Middle Ages up until the early modern pe- riod for its purported healing properties. Back in the old town, I stroll to the Stadtplatz square, where I take some time to admire the intact city centre. There are plenty of shops here, a market, and several res- taurants. But I notice one thing immediately: Braunau has the largest central square of any city in the Inn-Salzach region. Braunau, like many of these medieval towns, has burned down on several occasions, only to be painstak- ingly rebuilt by its residents each and every time. There wasn’t always enough money, though, which you can see clearly even today in some of the facades. That is to say: Looking to hide their circumstances somewhat, people of- ten rebuilt the facade up to the original height even when they didn’t have the money to ﬁnish the building behind it. Sometimes windows have just been painted on. It pays to look a little more closely at details whilst you’re on the Stadtplatz. But right now I’m ready for lunch. At the Stadt Café, a combination of a café and restaurant with large and com- fy upholstered seating, I enjoy a seasonal lunch menu and a piece of home-made cake. Afterwards, I’m off to the Heimathaus. Here you can marvel at the oldest preserved bell foundry in the German-speaking lands. It looks as if the old master craftsman has just left the foundry mo- ments ago. The centimetre-thick layer of soot that papers the wall helps you to imagine the working conditions in times now long past. The heavy Pesttürl, a “plague door”, is also laden with historical meaning, but today it leads to a romantic in- ner courtyard. The stay was less romantic for those in the past who found themselves on the other side of this door, who were handed their food on a stick through the small opening. Just as interesting is the small museum dedicated to the Danube Swabians, who found refuge and BRAUNAU Upper Austria 5 Augenbründl spring – An idyllic spot to take a break. Heimathaus Museum: One house – countless curiosities. One of three museums in Braunau. 39
Small historic town a new home here in Braunau. I also learned that there used to be a church key that was ﬁlled with gunpowder that the priest could use in case of an attack and what a “Suppenbrunzer” is: a glass ball that had been blessed and then hung over the dining table. When a hot soup was placed underneath it, the steam would condense on it and fall back down into the soup, thereby automatically blessing the soup. How practical. You also learn a lot here about Innviertel customs. There’s the collection of tools for reaping and threshing, for example, or the conical holes that were carved into wooden beams to trap illness in a lock of hair – or that was the superstition, at least. The collection is terriﬁc, as is the tour by Manfred Rachbauer. From the museum, I head to the Herzogsburg – the name of Braunau’s main local museum. There is a convenient combination ticket so you can visit both. There is a col- lection of various memorabilia related to the death of the Nuremberg bookseller Philipp Palm, who penned a pro- test against the French occupying forces and was execut- ed by Napoleonic troops in Braunau as a result. Visitors can also see the actual three-and-a-half cubit long beard belonging to Hans Steininger, Braunau’s legendary city captain in the 16th century. The story goes that he forgot to roll up his beard during a city ﬁre and subsequently tripped, fell down the stairs and broke his neck. All we know for sure is that this is indeed his beard, which has been proven by microscopic analysis. Also certain is that he would have made a ﬁne addition to the Texas rock group ZZ Top, had he only been born 500 years later. And we mustn’t forget Johann Georg Libigo’s historic Christmas crib, the Wandelkrippe, with nearly 200 ﬁg- ures and a surprise. Several Braunau residents in contem- porary clothing have somehow snuck in between Mary, Joseph and the shepherds, and on the right-hand side, the Braunau city centre can be seen. So at least those who attended this miraculous birth could head down the local pub afterwards. And that is precisely what I have planned as this day draws to a close. Before I return to the Nudelkuchl, however, I pass by a house that has become quite famous the world over. On a road leading out of town, I pass the house where Hitler was born, a reminder of a negative association that Brau- nau cannot leave behind. Perhaps it would have been Wandelkrippe – How the people of Innviertel imagine the Holy Land. Hans Steininger – A bearded apparition, from head to toe. 40
my way at some point to Obergut to soak up the last of the day’s sun sat in the apple orchard. It almost sounds like paradise! And my wife will ﬁnd my plan a good one once she’s seen the gifts I’m taking back for her: books from the well-stocked Lauf bookshop, a bottle of Calvados and a ton of Innviertel delicacies. In fact, I’d bet on it. Further recommendations: Hoﬂaden Ober: You can purchase musts, ﬁne brandies and schnapps made on site as well as items from other producers including top-quality oils and pasta in this spe- cialty shop – until your credit card itself starts to smoke. Napoleon’s Bench: This bench, currently in the Hei- mathaus museum, used to sit in front of the former Gas- thaus Schüdl inn (Niedermeyer-Haus). It is said that Na- poleon twice spent the night there and smoked his pipe whilst sat on this very bench. Local Braunau Kipferl: Made by the Bäckerei Nöbauer bakery from a centuries-old recipe. Tourismus Braunau am Inn Stadtplatz 2, A-5280 Braunau am Inn Tel. +43/(0)77 22 / 626 44 firstname.lastname@example.org www.tourismus-braunau.at BRAUNAU Upper Austria 5 THINGS TO SEE Old Town – tour Panorama–Viewing platform on the church tower Braunau Museums tourismus-braunau.at Lower Inn European Nature Reserve europareservat.de THINGS TO DO Tour of the historical old town with Hans Steininger “Traktor-Roas” tractor tours through Braunau Cycling or canoe tour through the Lower Inn European Nature Reserve Trying on armour in the Herzogsburg Museum Christmas market in the Palmpark tourismus-braunau.at EATING AND DRINKING Hausbrauerei Bogner hausbrauerei-bogner.at Schnapsbrennerei Obergut obergut.at Bäckerei Nöbauer baeckerei-noebauer.at Schüdlbauers Bar www.schuedlbauers.at Nudelkuchl & Tafelspitz tafelspitz-braunau.at WHERE TO STAY Altstadthotel Mayrbräu*** mayrbraeu.at Hotel am Theaterpark*** hotelamtheaterpark-neussl.at Schüdlbauer‘s Gasthof**** schuedlbauers.at Pommers Schlosstaverne pommers-schlosstaverne.at WHERE TO SHOP Braunau Merchants – Shopping in Braunau shopping-in-braunau.at Wednesday market on the Stadtplatz (7:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.) Friday farmers’ market in the Markthalle (12:00 p.m. –5:00 p.m.) braunauer-bauernmarkt.at 43
BRUCK AN DER MUR Styria 6 any more, but it certainly still has a function: it makes the people of Bruck happy. Especially at night, when it forms a real attraction which can be seen from far away. From here you can also see the Kornmesserhaus, one of the most beautiful Gothic secular buildings in Austria. Pancras Kornmess achieved wealth through trading in iron and arsenate and between 1499 and 1505 he had the house built in the style of Venetian palaces of that pe- riod, as can be seen by the richly decorated arches of the façade. Later, after Kornmess had been forced to leave the city because of his Protestant beliefs, the house served as the residence of the mayor, among other purposes. Today it houses a restaurant, the Pankraz, and also the tourist information ofﬁce – a piece of good fortune, as this can, and of course should also be visited – which means that some areas of the house can now be visited to which no access had been possible for a long time. After my visit, I do precisely what the Eiserne Brunnen was meant to save people the trouble of doing: I walk down to the Mur River, through what is known as the Schiff- gasse (‘Ship alley’) until I reach the chapel at the Hotel Landskron, the Mariahilf Kapelle. That’s where the Mur comes into sight. A fantastic view. The Schiffertor (‘Boat- men’s Gate’) is also to be found there: this was where boatmen and raftsmen used to enter the town. From the 13th century onwards the town enjoyed a “staple right” for salt, which forced boatmen to land here and spend a day offering salt for sale before they could resume their jour- ney southwards. The town prospered as large amounts of money ﬂowed in from the mooring and toll charges levied. A duty-free zone was also established around the perimeter of the town: this and the size of the main square – ideal for holding annual markets – were other factors which contributed to the town’s rapid growth. Here on the banks of the Mur, the Baderhaus (‘bath house’) can also be found, where anyone wishing to en- ter the town had to be cleaned, to protect against plague. Warm water was provided from a ﬁreplace and appro- priately trained staff were on hand to help with washing. The Baderhaus today houses a restaurant, the Weinerei, which has been awarded a premium rating by the gour- met magazine, ‘Falstaff’. More about that later. Excitingly, when the house was being renovated at the turn of the mil- The Hohenlimburgbrücke, which also forms part of the wonderful walk around the old town all along the River Mur. Visitors had to be washed in the Baderhaus before they were allowed to enter the town. Today, it provides superb dining facilities. 47
FREISTADT Upper Austria 7 FREISTADT A VARIED HISTORY Mountain idyll and castle keep. Freistadt’s medieval ambience can be truly enchanting, and its tradition of brewing is far from the only thing that the town offers in terms of culture and gastronomy. In Freistadt, heaven and hell are side-by-side. The Hotel Hubertus, for example, which I have chosen for my stay, is jokingly referred to the “house of hell” because it is situat- ed on Höllplatz, which can be translated as “hell square”. Meanwhile, the sweets and pastries on offer at the hotel’s café-patisserie can be described as heavenly. The same can be said of the breakfast in the garden adjacent to the town’s fortiﬁcations, with its excellent views over the sur- rounding area. For genuine heavenly blessings, however, the nearby Stadtpfarrkirche church is the venue, and that is where I decide to go. At twelve noon every Friday from May to July, a thirty-minute recital of organ music takes place here, making it an ideal place at which to rest and reﬂect. For many local people, attending orgelpunkt 12 marks the start of their weekend. Today, that also means me. The cool of the church and the sublime music are the perfect antidote to my stressful journey and the hustle and bustle of the day. Visitors are welcome to climb the church steeple before and afterwards. I recommend doing so, as the views of the hills The Böhmertor and the Bergfried (castle keep), two of the nine towers and gates in the medieval fortiﬁcations. 53
of the Mühlviertel, and the Türmerstube (steeple rooms) itself, are both worth seeing. It was here that the last watch- man of the church steeple lived with his family, in cramped conditions, until 1945. There was a box for clothing next to the movement of the clock. Next to the black kitchen range, there was a “Schafﬂ”, or a bucket, for nature’s offerings which – almost inconceivable today – was taken down to the church hall and emptied once a day. Above the steeple rooms are ﬁve bells, the oldest of which, the Armeseelen- glocke dates from the year 1512. The watchman in the church steeple kept watch at night, while the watchman at the Bergfried, or castle keep, for whom the nobles were responsible, carried out his duties in the daylight hours. A lookout therefore kept watch for the people of Freistadt around the clock. Back at ground level, I head for the landmark of Freistadt, the Linzer Tor. This also marks the starting point for guided tours of the town, which was founded in the year 1220 on a trad- ing route leading through the Norwald forest from the Danube to Bohemia by the Babenberg Duke Leopold VI. as the only sovereign town in the Mühlviertel. Its purpose was to enable trading with salt and iron and to protect the frontier with Bo- hemia. The settlers were given land and soil and built their home as their “free property”, which was a rarity in an era of serfdom, and since “frei” means “free”, it is the reason for the name of the town, which can also be read in the old spelling (with a “Y”) on the Linzer Tor. The medieval fortiﬁcations – some seven fortiﬁed towers, three walls and a moat – have remained almost completely intact – which is also a rarity. 54 The Linzertor is the land- mark of the town and one of the oldest gated towers in Europe.
The outer wall of the town, also known as the Mantel- mauer or “jacket wall”, as its surrounds the town centre like a jacket, seems to accompany the visitor at every turn, which is a delight rather than a displeasure. One local resident tells me, with a little irony, how the people here are pleased that Freistadt has never really experi- enced a rapid urban development. “Otherwise, sooner or later, they would have pulled everything down.” This means that the places of value, and therefore the age-old character of the town, have been preserved. In the old days, while the natural gradient allowed the town’s moat to be ﬂooded to ward off invaders, these days it is a place of recreation. Today, the outer Mantelmauer wall and the former moat feature footpaths, with any num- ber of pleasant places to take a rest, such as the newly opened park and the “Zwinger” (the area between the outer and inner wall); there is even a small climbing garden. This is a place where children run around while the adults relax on the park benches before the magniﬁcent backdrop. Walking into town at a leisurely pace from the Linzer Tor you may notice some of the historic arrow slits and bat- tlements on the buildings. In the old days, each building was required to have at least three arrow slits and one battlement from which, if necessary, hot pitch, known as “Pech”, could be thrown onto the invaders below. And they would certainly have been unlucky, as “Pech” also means “bad luck” in German! Freistadt was never really occupied, however. Its defences fell only once, on 2 July 1626, during the thirty years war, when the town had been pledged to Bavaria due to war debts, and an uprising occurred. After the town had been besieged for several days, during a ceaseﬁre - as the story goes - a country lad took his father’s riﬂe and began ﬁring indiscriminately towards the town. As fate would have it, at this very moment, the sheriff of the town was standing in an arrow slit surveying the townscape, and took a di- rect hit above his left eye. In the ensuing chaos, the coun- try folk succeeded in breaching the town’s fortiﬁcations. They were only able to hold the town for twenty days, however, before the Bavarian army quelled the uprising. Stories like this have a tendency to make one hungry and thirsty. The Brauhaus is a must - after all, a zebra cross- FREISTADT Upper Austria 7 The “Höhenﬂug” is a combina- tion of adventure and adrenaline in the heart of the old town. The Scheiblingturm and the old smithy testify to the age-old history of the town to this day. 55
Small historic town The Freistadt Brauhaus, the only brewing commune in the whole of Europe. Visitors can pass through the Haiderhof – one of 27 inner courtyards in the town – on their way to the Böhmertor. 56 ing leads more-or-less straight into its interior. In apolo- getic tones, I am assured that this is because of the local trafﬁc situation, although for a lover of beer like me, such an apology isn’t necessary, as I ﬁnd the zebra crossing an honour. A glance at the history books is also worth- while in this case: After the Habsburgs granted the town the Mile Law, according to which it was only possible for the residents of Freistadt to do business and trade, and to brew and serve beer, in a one-mile radius around the town, breweries began to appear everywhere. Initially, however, the beer was of such poor quality that it had to be imported from Budweis. In 1777, the local aldermen ensured that this is no longer the case when they decided to consolidate the brewing expertise and to build a joint brewery. Today, on a guided tour of the brewery, it isn’t just possible to ﬁnd out everything about beer and brew- ing, such as the fact the many small breweries came to- gether to create a craft brewer’s association, but in groups of ﬁve people or over, it is also possible to brew one’s own beer under the guidance of the master brewer. Once it has matured, you will then be sent your do-it-yourself beer. A great idea! In 2013, the brewery itself was the main venue for the regional exhibition, and is also the meeting place for the annual SunnSeitnFestival, at which a colourful mu- sical programme of jazz, gipsy swing, world music and singer songwriters is on offer on six dance ﬂoors. As always – unique worldwide – the brewery is organised in the form of a commune, which means that the 149 property owners within the town’s walls are the owners of the brewery at the same time. The land register provides a record of how many buckets (1 bucket = 158 litres) were required to pay the brewery to buy the plot of land. In the old days, payments could be made in buckets, these days, “it is only” Euros. That’s actually a shame, but Eu- ros can be reinvested: in a glass of the local “Ratsherrent-
runk” brew, for example, or a well-rounded stout – which is also brewed here. Beer isn’t normally recommended together with ﬁsh, but in this case, failing to have a beer with my trout meunière would seem to be an affront. Sooner or later, I am called by the mighty Bergfried (cas- tle keep), which is accessed through an arched doorway. Originally an observation or escape tower, it is now home to the Schlossmuseum, which is a must see, with Helmut Kreindl guiding the visitors with genuinely infectious en- thusiasm through the collection – and with free entry on Fridays. Storey by storey, we make our way up the tow- er, and delve ever deeper into the history of the town. It starts with the Hirschbach country furniture, the biggest collection of reverse glass painting in Austria and the beautiful tiled stoves, before continuing with impressive exhibits on folk beliefs and traditions: “Schwammerl- hauben”, an item of clothing roughly equivalent to the liripipe, for instance, which people wore when suffering headaches in the hopes that they would relieve the pain. Or what is known as the “Schergreberl” – a lucky mole’s paw which is supposed to bring money one’s way. Elab- orately designed keys – including those with which the Linzer Tor was previously locked – and monstrances, amulets, pilgrimage mementos and votive offerings as remedies for a variety of illnesses, not to mention “Breverl” – folded sheets of paper with holy images and prayers that were worn directly on one’s body – as well as devotional pictures intended for swallowing. They were initially consecrated before being swallowed to prevent a speciﬁc illness. One display is dedicated to the horse-drawn railway, which opened in 1832 and originally went from Linz to Budweis, before then going on to Gmuden. The former stables showcase alternating special exhibitions on speciﬁc topics, and they are a must-see. It is here that I ﬁnd out that during the ﬁrst world war, Freistadt was home to a huge prison camp for Ukranians which housed up to 16,000 prisoners of war. It was later used as temporary accommodation for the German refugees from the Sudetenland. I make my way through the romantic Schlossgässchen with its three Gothic bay windows and return to the Haupt- platz, the venue for the annual wine festival which is taking place today. For one day, winegrowers from a wide variety of winegrowing regions, from Kamptal to Neudie- FREISTADT Upper Austria 7 The Mühlviertler Schlossmuseum isn’t just home to cultural treas- ures showcasing the history of Freistadt, it also has numerous astonishing exhibits from life in earlier times. The Bergfried offers exception- al views of the town and the Mühlviertel. 57
Small historic town dlersee and from the Weinviertel to the Vulkanland, offer their wines at reduced prices. After having picked up a broom, a variety of jams and fresh chanterelles at the Ge- nussmarkt in the morning, I now decide it’s time to round off the day with what the locals refer to as a Schlussachterl – or a tipple of wine – as the night is slowly falling. This gives me an opportunity to admire the quality of the new Freistadt light concept, which demonstrates how space, architecture and light can form a wonderful oneness if they are only allowed to do so. The façades are gently illuminated and the medieval heritage, with its imposing towers, is delicately and thoughtfully accentuated. The Hauptplatz now has twice as many beer gardens as it did before it was redesigned – a trendsetting example which should be followed elsewhere. After enjoying a nightcap at Foxi’s Schlosstaverne, which places an emphasis on the pleasures of beer and whisky, but also has a cheap and cheerful menu of menu of standard, down-to-earth Mühlviertel fare as well as unexpected vegetarian and ori- ental options, I decide that it’s time for bed. The next morning I decide to visit the Böhmertor, which is situated in the northern part of the town and made from massive stone blocks, before climbing the Scheib- lingturm tower, which is open to visitors, and which offers views of the old jail, into which delinquents from else- where were thrown until their trial and sentencing. After that, I decide that it’s time for some shopping. My ﬁrst port of call is the Salon ARTISCHOKe, a combined stu- dio and shop which sells regional and sustainably made products and artworks that are made according to the old tradition of art and handicraft. The imaginative chains and bracelets from braided textile are the perfect souvenirs, and the bracelets are also worn by men. I then head to the Mühlviertel Kreativ-Haus, which combines art and gastronomy from the region under one roof. Here, creative professionals from a variety of artistic genres are able to present and offer their artwork or products for sale. Should you come here, be sure to put some time aside for your visit, because several exhibitions are always on show, not to mention any amount of regional gastronomic products to taste and buy, such as the excellent cider vinegar, as well as the indigo fabrics from Blaudruck & Wagner. With exhibition workshops during town’s festivals and pop-up restaurants, the initiative is genuine asset for the town. I In the evenings, the specially designed light concept turns the old town into a gleaming gem. A meeting place for arts, crafts and gastronomy from the local region: the Mühlviertel Kreativ Haus MÜK. 58
then unexpectedly come across a bizarre highlight: the crocodile in the Pfarrgasse. The best way to ﬁnd out what it is doing there and how it found its way to Freistadt is on a guided tour of the town! After a ﬁnal meal at the Vis a Vis restaurant, which I am pleased to recommend, and an espresso at the Café Such- an, which has its own coffee roastery in which every variety of coffee is ground and available to buy and take home, it is time for an initial round up: I have been lucky enough to en- joy idyllic alleyways, markets, wine festivals, traditional fare and superb beer. Yet those who decide to enjoy and indulge themselves should also serve some penitence for their sins, so I decide to end my visit with a contemplative tour of the historically listed, late Gothic Church of St. Peter which looks down over the rooftops of Freistadt. It is from there that I once more admire the hilly country of the Mühlviertel region, and understand completely why Freistadt celebrat- ed its 8,000th inhabitant a few months ago. The town is booming because it is exceptionally attractive and liveable. Also recommended: The Salzhof: The oldest building in the town, which was completely refurbished in 2003 and has been converted into a superb location for events. The result is a success- ful combination between the old elements and contem- porary architecture. The inner courtyard features an early work by Hermann Nitsch. The Arkadenhof with arcade: There are some twenty-sev- en inner courtyards in Freistadt, most of which are pri- vate. The passageway from the Samtgasse to the Böh- mergasse, however, is accessible to the public. Here, the medieval stone-mounted doors and windows can be seen in their full glory. Freistadt cinema: It is thanks to the tireless work of cul- ture warriors such as Wolfgang Steininger, who also runs an art house cinema in the regional capital of Linz, that smaller towns like Freistadt are home to a cinema that offers an exquisite programme of art house movies. Tourismusverband Freistadt Waaggasse 6, A-4240 Freistadt Tel. + 43 7942 75 700 email@example.com, www.muehlviertel.at FREISTADT Upper Austria 7 THINGS TO SEE Historic, fully intact medieval fortiﬁcations, including 9 towers and gates, 27 inner courtyards and 1 crocodile. Schlossmuseum museum-freistadt.at MÜK Mühlviertel Kreativ Haus Verkosten-Gustieren-Einkaufen muehlviertel-kreativ.at THINGS TO DO Guided tours, with cellar, tower or beer tours The Freistadt Brewing Commune with Beer Academy and Brewery Hotel freistaedter-bier.at Local-Bühne Freistadt – der kulturelle Nahversorger local-buehne.at Guided tours, with cellar, tower or beer tours Freistädter Höhenﬂug derhoehenﬂug.at Taking the forest air for body and soul waldluftbaden.at EATING AND DRINKING Suchan including coffee roastery suchankaffee.at Foxi’s Specialist beers and whisky right on the Hauptplatz foxis.at Café-Konditorei Lubinger World class pastries and ﬁnest gingerbread lubinger.at Vis á Vis Tasty meals adjacent to the historic fortiﬁcations gasthaus-visavis.at WHERE TO STAY Hotel Garni Hubertus**** hotelhubertus-freistadt.at Hotel zum goldenen Hirschen**** hotels-freistadt.at Pension Pirklbauer “Zum wilden Mann”** www.pension-pirklbauer.at 59
SMALL HISTORIC TOWN 60
GMUNDEN Upper Austria 8 GMUNDEN A stylish town of leisure With boat rides and potteries, the deep Lake Traunsee, and houses that are built deep into the ground and therefore must contain one secret or another – exploring Gmunden is a multi- faceted experience. Arriving in Gmunden on Tuesday proved to be a stroke of luck, as it just so happened that this was the day of the weekly market. This is not just a place where you can shop for the Salzkammergut region’s wonderful fresh produce – it’s also an excellent place to stop and chat. Behind all the market stalls, you can see a ﬂash of white from a smokestack in the distance: the Gisela. This ship is 146 years old, making her one of the oldest paddle steamers in the world. Just as agile as ever, the old ship ferries locals and tourists alike across Lake Traunsee in the months of July and August, weather permitting. But the Gisela can also be rented for events of all kinds. This indisputably demonstrates the primary advantage of this town: it’s right by the water. Lake Traunsee is the deepest lake in Austria at 191 metres and, together with the Grün- berg and Traunstein mountains, the so-called “guardians of the Salzkammergut” that rise up behind the lake, it forms a spectacular view. In order to enjoy it to the full- The Gisela is 146 years old, making her one of the oldest paddle steamers in the world. 61
… the magical Traunseestadt … est, I grab a seat in the Wiener Café. My espresso has only just arrived when, to my delight, I hear the ringing of a chime of bells. What I didn’t know is that a number of bells hang in a loggia on the front of the town hall. Although they are painted with the famous pattern of the Gmundner Keramik (Gmunden pottery), they are actually produced in the famous Meissener porcelain manufactory because, as I later learn, ceramic is not suitable for the ringing sound of the bells. The waiter in the café tells me that there are ﬁve melodies: the theme tune of the tele- vision programme “Schlosshotel Orth”, which is always played, and four others that alternate. Later, during my walk through the town, I will discover that even though it has been off the air for quite some time, the television pro- gramme is still omnipresent. The original ﬁlming locations are marked along a themed walk, for example. The front desk and editing table, along with other props, are on dis- play in Schloss Ort. But it’s not just fans of the programme who get their money’s worth – the entire town has pro- ﬁted immensely. Whether it’s cinema, television, or mu- sic videos, Gmunden is often used as a ﬁlming location. Two or three ﬁlms are shot here annually. The atmosphere of the harbour, with its ships, paddle steamers and weekly market, makes it tempting to stay down by the water. But the old town, which sits above the 62 Gmunden town hall: a chime of bells made of Meissener porcelain.
harbour, is also appealing. I discover another surprise on my way: there is a tramway in Gmunden – unusual for a town of its size. It was built in 1894 as a test route for the Viennese tramway and is relatively steep, the steepest in the country. The tram, which is known as the “Traunseetram”, now wends its way from Gmunden station to Vorchdorf In the old town I come across a market stall selling ﬁsh, including the typical whiteﬁsh from Lake Traunsee. It seems like a crime to leave these delicacies behind, but, without a cooler bag, I have no choice. What a shame! The Virgin of Mercy is situated in the Stadtpfarrkirche (parish church). The ceramic object was built by Emilie Schleiß-Simandl in 1947, as an offering of thanks for the protection of Gmunden from damage during the war. The artist was already seventy years old when she created this work. Also impressive is the altar, built by Thomas Schwanthaler in around 1678, which portrays the scene of “the Adoration of the Magi” on a large scale. A modern counterpart to the old church art can be found in the Galerie 10er-Haus. It is well worth heading down one storey from the ground-level salesrooms, which are decked out with jewellery, art, and picture frames, to ex- plore the recently uncovered vault below. Here, artists from all over Austria are offered a platform for presenting their works. The depth to which houses are built into the ground is particularly noticeable here, but there is a his- torical reason for it: the level of tax owed was historically determined by the width of a house’s façade. Thus, nar- row, deep houses with sumptuous courtyards were built. Above one of these houses is the local public library. A few tables and chairs invite you to take a seat. There’s hardly a better place to delve into a book that you’ve brought with you or borrowed from the library; it’s com- pletely quiet in here. Another courtyard that you must visit is that of the Huthaus Haas. It’s always lovingly decorated with old furniture and objects and, during the time leading up to Christmas, it hosts an advent evening where people sing from the loggia. Particularly impressive is the Schloss Ort, a moated castle from the 10th century and the main location of the previ- ously mentioned television programme. Archduke Johann GMUNDEN Upper Austria 8 The ceramic fountain at Rinnholzplatz. The altar in the Stadtpfarrkirche (parish church), built by Thomas Schwanthaler. 63
Small historic town Salvator once acquired it for use as a refuge from the inﬂuence of the Habsburgs. Salvator was probably what you would nowadays call a revolutionary. Due to his pro- gressive, liberal views, he was forever in conﬂict with the imperial family. When he ﬁnally decided to marry his long- time partner, a dancer from the imperial opera house, the Emperor refused to give his approval. This was the ﬁnal straw. Salvator renounced all his noble titles and from then on simply took on the name of his property, becom- ing known as Johann Orth. The precise circumstances of his death remain a mystery to this day. It is believed that after he acquired his captain’s license and set sail for South Africa, he was shipwrecked at Cape Horn and died. The castle, which is now used for weddings, corporate parties, and seminars, still exudes a spirit of free think- ing. However, the authority of the state is also depicted. Standing cells and all kinds of torture instruments that are on display tell the story of when the castle was used as a medieval prison. The fact that the castle is no longer hab- itable might disappoint fans of the television programme, The Schloss Ort: refuge and primary location of a television programme. 64
but you can at least have a splendid meal at the Restau- rant Orther Stub´n. That’s consolation enough for me. I am enchanted by the traditional food from the region and the view of the sun’s reﬂection on Lake Traunsee. This is the life. Afterwards, it’s worth making some time for the Orth bay nature reserve. In addition to tits, ﬁnches, and thrushes, rarer species such as the blackcap and the gar- den warbler also nest here. I watch the coots and enjoy the utter peace and quiet. The Esplanade leads back into the town centre. There are some really nice shops here. First, I stumble into the Tee- nest at Rinnholzplatz, a specialty shop for tea, coffee, and books. This combination may seem strange, but when you learn that Martin Labacher previously ran a bookshop in Vienna, it makes sense that he would bring a piece of his old passion with him when he took over this tea and herb shop. I want to test the effects of the water of the holy Bründl, a fountain made in the pottery in 1848. Many people swear by its healing properties. But regardless of the potential beneﬁts of the water itself, the fountain is deﬁnitely a place of power. With a book purchased at the Teenest in hand, I decide to end the day with a cosy din- ner at the Engelhof inn. Gmunden is a pottery town, and anyone who doesn’t visit the Keramikmanufaktur (pottery) is deﬁnitely mis sing out. In the course of an extensive factory tour, we not only learn how ceramic is produced and how the ﬁnished pieces are then artfully painted; we also have the opportu- nity of putting the ﬁnishing touches on a piece ourselves. Just a few minutes into the demonstration, it becomes clear that one needs a very steady hand in order to pur- sue this profession. The quality standards are extremely high. Every ﬂower, every deer, every decoration has its de signated place. Even the slightest temperature ﬂuctua- tions can cause the colours to be off. After brush painting, the ﬁring technique, which is entirely unique to the region, is explained. The permanent colour is sprayed out of a nozzle. The piece must therefore be coloured in one go, without being set down. But the best part is that volunteers are allowed to try ﬁr- ing. It’s a skill I admit I’m not particularly good at. My plate didn’t ﬁnd a buyer. I can easily understand why one would have to complete a two-year apprenticeship and GMUNDEN Upper Austria 8 Rinnholzplatz is one of Gmunden’s many places of energy. The unique ﬁring technique used in the Gmunden Keramikmanufaktur (pottery). 65
At 191 metres, Lake Traunsee isn’t just the deepest, but also one of the most beautiful lakes in Austria. then still gain a couple of years’ further experience be- fore being allowed to apply this one-of-a-kind technique. In any case, one learns to appreciate the value of these unique items even more than before. In the painting studio we are ﬁnally invited to create our own pieces using original colours and brushes, under the supervision of a professional. This offer is accepted with enthusiasm by the guests. Some people are done in a few minutes; others spend hours here enjoying the opportu- nity to immerse themselves in their own designs. This is followed by coffee and homemade cake. And one last shopping trip before I leave: by chance, I end up in B’jaks, a specialty running shop with an excel- lent range of products and even better service. Thomas Bosnjak, a former competitive runner and passionate trail runner, is also a great salesman. In fact, he gives me such good advice that I give in and take a pair of trainers home with me, promising myself that I will train more. Right next door, I ﬁnd the kind of record store that one would normally expect to see in a larger city, as it’s so well-stocked. Alexander Sackel realised his dream of owning a record store when he opened Goodthings. After spending a long time as a journalist in the music industry, this next step was a logical one for him. “It doesn’t look much different at my house – it’s just a bit messier,” he The Esplanade during the pottery market. Treetop path on the Grünberg 66
laughs. His contacts in the music industry also beneﬁt the public, as there are live gigs in his shop from time to time. Quite a discovery. And how times change. In earlier times, the Salzkam- mergut region was really cut off from the outside world. The people didn’t want their salt-extraction technologies to get out. Any trip outside of the region therefore had to be approved by the Salzamt (salt ofﬁce). Today, Gmunden presents itself as a prosperous, cosmopolitan town. Next time I visit, I’ll probably come in summer in order to attend “Jazz on the Steamboat” and sail across the lake on the Gisela to the tune of cool jazz music. Further recommendations: Schloss Weyer Gallery: The exquisite Weyer renaissance castle in Gmunden, with its arcade courtyards, houses within its historic walls one of the most important Meis- sener porcelain collections in Europe. Klo & So: There is an unconventional collection of historic sanitary objects in the K-Hof in the centre of Gmunden. In other words, a toilet museum. Villa Toscana – Toscana Congress: The Villa Toscana, with its many large rooms, is used as an event venue, as is the congress centre. Both the congress building and the villa are perfect locations for events such as weddings. The treetop path on the Grünberg: 1,400 metres in length and with an approx. 40 metre high lookout tower, with its unique views, the path on the Grünberg is en- chanting! Tourismusverband Traunsee-Almtal Toscanapark 1, A-4810 Gmunden Tel. + 43 / (0)76 12 / 744 51 firstname.lastname@example.org www.traunsee-almtal.at GMUNDEN Upper Austria 8 THINGS TO SEE K-Hof k-hof.at Keramikmanufaktur gmundner.at Schloss Ort (built in the 10th century) schlossorth.com THINGS TO DO Schifffahrt Eder (est. 1839) traunseeschifffahrt.at Grünberg – the local mountain with treetop path gruenberg.info City tours traunsee.salzkammergut.at EATING AND DRINKING Orther Stub’n schlossorth.com Gasthof Engelhof engelhof.at Landhotel Grünberg am Traunsee gruenberg.at Café Brandl facebook.com/brandl.gmunden Cafe Bar & Lounge Monaco facebook.com/MonacoGmunden Hotel Hois‘n Wirt (est. 1896) hoisnwirt.at WHERE TO STAY *** Superior Landhotel Grünberg am See gruenberg.at ****Seehotel Schwan seehotel-schwan.at SHOPPING Shopping in Gmunden shoppinggmunden.at 67
SMALL HISTORIC TOWN 68
HALLEIN Salzburg 9 HALLEIN The Salt of Life For centuries salt mining was at the heart of Hallein’s history. Nowadays, the city’s lively character is the pinch of salt that gives it something extra. A vibrant artistic and cultural scene and a distinctive bistro and restaurant culture promise an enjoyable urban experience. Whereas Salzburg has always been a home for high cul- ture, Hallein was long considered a working class town. The reason was salt mining, an established industry here for centuries. But this is no longer the case, as the mines were closed in 1989. For some time now, the city has taken a different direction and is keen to project a new image. But you can still visit the salt mines in Hallein. And that is exactly what I do ﬁrst. And that means putting on a protective suit and wishing everyone “Glück auf!”, the miners’ traditional greeting on their way down the mines. We are then ready to take the train into the oldest salt mine in Europe. Celts were already mining salt in these multi- branched tunnels over two thousand years ago. It’s hard to believe, but they would chisel through the stone contain- ing salt using only primitive wooden tools and then carry the excavated crystals 300 metres up back to the surface. Visitors can see what life was like back then in the Celtic village, situated slightly above the entrance to the mine. View of the city of Hallein. In the foreground, one of the two Barmsteins, Hallein’s rocky landmark. 69
…lively salt city along the Salzach … Salt didn’t just extend the shelf life of food, it also ﬁlled the prince-archbishop’s coffers. Above all, it provided Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau with the funds he needed for his desired transformation of Salzburg’s architecture. At the time, 36,000 tonnes of salt were mined annually and transported north via the Salzach river to Franconia and Bohemia or southwards along the Tauern Paths. What I didn’t know is that 80 % of the mines are in Ger- man territory, which naturally led to quarrels between Salz burg and Bavaria at the time. An agreement was ﬁnally reached in 1829 with the Bavarian-Austrian Salt Treaty. It allowed inhabitants of Dürrnberg to mine under Bavarian lands. Until 1989, that is, when salt produc- tion was stopped. Visitors can view ﬁlms of the mines in action. But it’s the long descent into the mine that really creates a sense of atmosphere. Crossing the salt lake by 70 Salt Mines in Hallein/Bad Dürrnberg: It’s a swift slide into the mountain.
suspended on chains. This is because a ﬁxed construc- tion would be prone to tears and cracks, as the tower sways slightly when the bell rings. And I am in luck – I arrive in time for the start of a pres- entation for schoolchildren, and, on impulse, I join the audience. This allows me to appreciate fully that the ad- vance praise I have heard about the Star Tower is en- tirely justiﬁed. Gazing at the stars it becomes clear how much there is to learn, details which are unfamiliar not only to the school students, but also to me. Other pro- grammed events, such as music shows, are also on of- fer in the tower; currently it is showcasing a whistle-stop tour through the history of the pop band Queen. It is an excellent tribute to the band from the 70s and 80s, and it’s not just the oldies who enjoy it. After the presentation, I take a moment to enjoy the view from the gallery across Judenburg and the surrounding area. Back on the ground, I head to the site of the former Jew- ish ghetto, where the Jews who had been expelled from the town settled, between the inner and outer town walls. I head down all manner of little passages and alleys and eventually ﬁnd myself in the Weyergasse, which not only offers a beautiful view of the tower, but is also home to an Italian restaurant, the San Marco. Judenburg has always had a good relationship with our neighbour to the south; after all, the old trading route led through the town. So where else should you be able to eat excellent Italian food if not here? The pizzas are indeed outstanding, and the ﬁnely sliced beef carpaccio is also of the highest quality. The cosy atmosphere of the restaurant makes for a pleas- ant end to the day. After that, I head to the monastery. Because that is where I am staying. The JUFA Hotel was built in a former Jesuit Monastery very close to the historic town centre. On my way there I pass the Judenburg Kunstatelier (art studio). Alf Poier has exhibited his works there. Poier, a native of Judenburg, has close connections to the town. In addi- tion to his cabaret performances, he can often be spotted in one of the town’s cosy cafés. Poier spends a lot of time in his home town and also plans to create some art projects here in the future. Judenburg seems to attract celebrities. The actor Karl Markovics crosses my path at breakfast, having hosted an evening about the composer JUDENBURG Styria 10 The Star Tower houses one of the most sophis- ticated planetariums in Europe. The rooms of the JUFA Hotel are within the ancient walls of the former Jesuit monastery. 81
of 207 km/h on the Österreichring racing track in this ve- hicle. It’s better not to think about what would have hap- pened to the person sitting in this racing machine if they had made even the smallest mistake – after all, the tank is directly behind the seat. Judenburg and motorsports – many people ﬁnd this a winning combination. Visitors to the Austrian Grand Prix in Spielberg for example, often come a day early or stay on afterwards in order to have a look at Judenburg. Next I take a cycling trip into the surrounding countryside and end up in Weißkirchen, the other main town of the Zirbenland region, besides Juden- burg and Obdach; here I stock up on Zirben schnapps (pine schnapps) and pine syrup. Judenburg will deﬁnitely see me again, whether during the Kultursommer (culture summer), a high-quality music festival, or the Toskana- fest (Tuscany festival) which, with its Mediterranean spe- cialities, perfectly ﬁts into the southern ﬂair of the town. Ciao, Judenburg! Further recommendations: St. Nicholas parish church: The “Madonna of Judenburg” dating from 1420-25 is on display here in the Chapel of St. Mary. The Reverend Martin Trummler is also a big Elvis fan, and organises an Elvis Christmas gospel concert. Town Museum: Exhibits, documents, texts on the history of the city, newspapers, and 65,000 photographs are on display here. A large-scale model gives you an overview of the town in the time of Maria Theresa. Tourismus- & Informationsbüro Hauptplatz 20, A-8750 Judenburg Tel. + 43 / (0)35 72 / 85-000 email@example.com, www.judenburg.com JUDENBURG Styria 10 THINGS TO SEE Judenburg City Tower sternenturm.at Puch Museum Judenburg puchmuseum.at Parish church of St. Nicholas and church of St. Magdalene judenburg.com Judenburg town museum judenburg.com Eppenstein castle ruins zirbenland.at THINGS TO DO Sternenturm Planetarium sternenturm.at Red Bull Ring, Spielberg projekt-spielberg.com Aqualux Thermal Spa, Fohnsdorf therme-aqualux.at Indoor playground zirbelix.at EATING AND DRINKING Gasthaus Gruber facebook.com/gruberhubmann Restaurant Arkadia restaurant-arkadia.at Restaurant Kastanienlaube kastanienlaube.at Pizzeria San Marco pizzeria-sanmarco.eu Café Mittoni mittoni.at Mojito Cuban Bar mojito-bar.at WHERE TO STAY JUFA Hotel zum Sternenturm jufa.eu/judenburg Stadthotel Schwerterbräu 1a-hotel-steiner.at Hotel Murblick murblick.at WHERE TO SHOP Goldsmith Moser goldschmiedemoser.at UD Tischkultur & mehr facebook.com/UDTischkultur Fashion boutique Sissy Leitner judenburg.com Leuchtenstudio Pribas leuchtenstudio.at 83
by former mayor Josef Egger, and which has been recon- structed exactly to scale. Or an original “Rauchkuchl”, a type of smokehouse that used to be common in houses here. The Rauchkuchl didn’t have a chimney. The smoke spread into every last corner of the house, which was good for dealing with pests, but was pretty bad for the eyes. Kufstein Fortress certainly has lots to offer. The cov- ered fortress arena hosts a variety of events: from rock and pop concerts, to the Medieval Knights Festival, to magical Christmas events, to the summer operettas. In April 2019, as part of the new Fortress trail, an exhi- bition will be opening in the historic armoury of Kufstein Fortress which is dedicated to the story of Kaiser Maximil- ian the First. The exhibition will focus on his close links with Tyrol and Kufstein – which he conquered and whose castle buildings he fortiﬁed. The Heroes’ Organ, erected as a memorial to the victims of the First World War, stands at the foot of the fortress. With around 5,000 pipes, it is the world’s largest outdoor organ. “The Good Comrade” is played each day at noon on the dot in memory of all victims of war. The console’s location in the Festungsneuhof poses a few challenges to the organist. One is the delay of about a third of a second in the notes, caused by the sluggishness of sound. Jo- hannes Berger, the organist and custodian of the Heroes’ Organ since 2009, gives it his all. And depending on the wind, the “full work” can be heard up to ten kilometres away in neighbouring Bavaria, supposedly even all the way at the top of the Kaiser mountains. Here’s a curious little titbit: The organ is also played at 6 p.m. during the summer months. Events that are already underway are paused for the duration of the organ’s playing. For lunch, I stop in the Restaurant Purlepaus, which is located right at the foot of the fortress. The restaurant, named after the cannon that played a key role in the cap- ture of Kufstein, serves traditional Tyrolean cuisine. I tried the Schlutzkrapfen (a stuffed pasta similar to ravioli) with two different ﬁllings, and I was not disappointed. I could eat the one ﬁlled with Tyrolean grey cheese every day, though the intense ﬂavour is not for the faint of heart. Larger cities have led the way when it comes to combin- ing bookshops with cafés. Kufstein also has a book-café: the Lipott. I’m not really hungry, but I can try to ﬁnd room KUFSTEIN Tyrol 11 Festungs- und Heimatmuseum (Fortress and Museum of Local History): Something for grown-ups and for kids. Historical ﬂair and urban living. 87
Annual “Almabtrieb” – a traditional festival to mark the return of the cattle from the mountains. Historical ﬂair and urban living. for a passion fruit tart. After all, as the French say, hun- ger comes with eating. The large assortment of detective novels here is noticeable right away. Kufstein is a city that likes mystery, it appears. Maybe Austrian TV’s “Soko Kitz- bühel” crime drama should be shot here instead. After a short stroll, I make my way down to the Inn River, where several cafés (Müllers Café, Martins) serve coffee and snacks with an incredible view. Simply wonderful. There’s no hint here of the neglect that other cities often show their rivers. Another of the city’s characteristics is its greater than average number of business pioneers. You can learn more about one of them at the Nähmaschinenmuseum (Sewing Machine Museum): Josef Madersperger. A wit- ty audio-visual presentation covers the life and work of this groundbreaking inventor. What was special about his sewing machine was that it wasn’t the material that moved relative to the sewing head, but the sewing head that moved relative to the stationary material. Alas, the story has a tragic side to it. As often happens, the inventor seemed to be the only one who understood how useful his machine really was. No one bought it. So Josef Mad- ersperger gave his ﬁrst fully functional sewing machine to the Polytechnic Institute in Vienna. His ingenious discov- ery is appreciated today. Meanwhile, evening is upon us and I still have a must-see item on my list: the Römerhofgasse. Nestling between 88
KUFSTEIN Tyrol 11 the promenade along the inn, the fortress and the Unterer Stadtplatz square, this charming lane draws visitors both day and night thanks to its traditional houses and histor- ical buildings, to say nothing of its restaurants and bars. Mein Ziel ist das »Auracher Löchl«: It was here, in the tra- ditional wine bar of the Auracher Löchl and the Träumerei #8 boutique hotel, that Karl Danzer composed his famous song dedicated to Kufstein (“Kennst du die Perle...”/”Do you know the pearl...”) in 1946. There is a commemora- tive plaque here today. I will dine this evening here at the restaurant that shares the hotel’s name. But the Brückenrestaurant does catch my eye. The tiny space, only 15 square metres in size, features two seats, ﬁve courses and a record player. You can play whatever vinyl record you like while eating. Delicious food, candle- light, crackling vinyl – it sounds superb. Tyrolean tapas at Auracher Löchl. The Auracher Löchl is known for its Tyrolean tapas. But when Martin Gasteiger shows me his dry aged beef, the decision is easy. The manager, who prefers the title “soul of the house”, carves from what must be four kilos of beef a 400-gram piece for me right before my very eyes, and I can hardly wait until its served – as is the custom here – with corncobs, Mediterranean vegetables and country- style potatoes. Medium rare? Yes, please! After my meal, Gasteiger shows me his latest pride and joy: The Stollen 1930. This chic bar, located in a former beer cellar carved into the hill on which the fortress is constructed is home to the world’s largest collection of gin, which you might have thought would be in Manhat- tan. There are 1,000 different varieties, which have won the bar a place in the Guinness Book of World Records, including the everyday, like Gordon’s, through to the ex- otic, such as Adler Berlin Gin, which comes in a unique ceramic bottle, of which just 500 units were made. From subtle to strong, from almost sweet to a hint of curry: If you can imagine it, they have it. This place is like Disney World for fans of gin. Though he himself is not much of a gin lover, bartender Robert Grama manages to entice me, ﬁrst with a glass of Opihr. This is a Moroccan tipple that’s served “oriental spiced” in a large, rounded glass. The ﬂavour is stunning. Cardamom and coriander bring more than just a whiff of Stollen 1930 – The bar. 89
glass – “What glass for which wine?”. And that’s why the visit ends up taking a bit longer than planned. Time is running out but I still need to do a little shop- ping before I head home. I hit the jackpot in the Tiroler Schmankerlladen. You can always use a herb liqueur, to “put your stomach back in order”, as Austrian actor Helmut Qualtinger used to say. But somehow a Kamin- wurzn sausage and the traditional Tyrolean Prügeltorte cake have found their way into my basket. I’m not yet familiar with the latter, but the shop assistant tells me I simply must try it. She’s from the Brandenberg Valley in Tyrol. For generations, farmers in the region have baked the golden-brown treat over an open ﬁre on special occa- sions, such as weddings or baptisms. Sounds exciting, and I can’t wait to get home to slice into it tonight. With the Kufstein song on my lips, I set off home, laden with gifts and memories. And of one thing I am sure: I’ll be back. Either to dine with my wife in Brückenrestaurant or to enjoy a few glasses of gin at Stollen. Further recommendations: KUltura – a top-level programme during the summer of culture in the Kufsteinerland region: including the Tyro- lean Festival in Erl, which takes place in the summer and the winter, the Summer of Operettas at the historic Kufstein Fortress, the Passion Plays in Erl and Thiersee, as well as the Master Classes of the Academia Vocalis. The glück. tage, a festival for literature, philosophy, nature and fun, is another highlight of the summer of culture in the Kuf- steinerland region. Träumerei: Small boutique hotel on Römerhofgasse, in which none of the meticulously designed, themed rooms are the same. Weinbar Vitus und Urban: Kufstein residents of all ages consider the arte hotel’s wine bar the place to be after work. It’s nice when you don’t have to sit alone in the hotel bar. Kufsteinerland Unterer Stadtplatz 11-13, A-6330 Kufstein Tel. + 43 / (0)53 72 / 622 07 firstname.lastname@example.org, www.kufstein.com KUFSTEIN Tyrol 11 THINGS TO SEE Kufstein Fortress festung.kufstein.at Riedel Glass riedel.com Fohlenhof Ebbs stud farm haﬂinger-tirol.com Guided tours of Kufstein kufstein.com Places of activity and reﬂection kufstein.com THINGS TO DO Kufstein Operetta Summer operettensommer.com Kaisertal Conservation Area kufstein.com Motor Skills Park kufstein.com EATING AND DRINKING Purlepaus purlepaus.at Die Bohne Tirols kaffee-haus.at café.bar.bistro elephant www.elephant-kufstein.at Vitus & Urban vitusundurban.at Tiroler Hof tirolerhof-kufstein.at Weinstadl Ebbs weinstadl.net WHERE TO STAY arte Hotel arte-kufstein.at Alpenrose alpenrose-kufstein.at WHERE TO SHOP Trachten Stolzer trachtenstolzer.at Shopping or coffee – Gitta´s Wohnen & Lifestyle gittas.at Brennerei Kronthaler brennerei-kronthaler.at 91
SCHÄRDING Upper Austria 13 SCHÄRDING Baroque treasure trove Schärding is a baroque jewel and the oldest Kneipp health spa town in Austria. With elegance and an indomitable urge for renewal, this pearl of the river Inn exudes history and yet with every step you’ll sense the living energy of the town. The sight of the Silberzeile (“Silver Row”), which forms the north-east side of the upper town square, puts you in a good mood straight away. Its name refers to the Schär- ding merchants, whose wealth came from the salt busi- ness, and who once traded here. The façades, painted in colourful pastels, were a sign of prosperity which could be seen from far away. They also served another purpose: the colours of the houses were originally determined ac- cording to the relevant guilds. For example, blue was for bakers and red for butchers. This was a deﬁnite advan- tage for those who couldn’t read or write, as they could easily ﬁnd their destination. Despite today’s widespread literacy, this unique colour scheme has been maintained – much to the pleasure of people like me, who appreci- ate such a colourful townscape. There’s something else here which hasn’t changed since the baroque period: the bustling trade. To this day it’s still ﬂourishing. There is one store after another, side by side. Schärding really does Schärding is enticingly nestled in the lower valley of the River Inn. 101
“Silver Row“ is the town’s colourful centrepiece. …700 years - so baroque, so full of life … have a lively centre, which you will notice right away. Schärding also has over 50 restaurants and bars. That’s a pretty astounding number for a town with just 5,000 in- habitants. And so it’s no surprise that you can ﬁnd every- thing that makes your foodie heart beat faster in Schärd- ing – from a cosy pub to haute cuisine. The best place to dive into Schärding life is deﬁnitely the Wirtshaus zur Bums’n. The name originates from old times, when the draymen would unload their barrels at the main entrance, where they would roll down the slightly sloped ﬂoor into the basement and there hit the wall with a loud “bang”, colloquially called “bumsn”. To this day the ﬂoor is still sloped, and most importantly there is still beer to drink – from the nearby Baumgartner brewery, the largest of the Innviertel region. Alongside the deliciously ﬂavoursome beer there are tasty local treats too. After the weekly mar- ket on Thursday, about half of Schärding meets here to enjoy a leberkäs snack or to devour a “Bratl in der Rein”. This consists of roast pork, bacon, Innviertler dumplings 102 The Wirtshaus zu Bums’n: All of Schärding meets here to enjoy a leberkäs snack or a Bratl in der Rein. With a side of freshly tapped Baumgartner beer.
and cabbage, often left in the oven to roast for hours at a time, and served in a large frying pan. From builders to bankers, everyone sits here together and is automatically on a ﬁrst name basis. The restaurant is also completely full today, a normal week day, which is always a good sign. I decide on a classic: goulash and beer. Both are really excellent. But rustic pubs aren’t the only thing in Schärding – as I mentioned, haute cuisine is also represented. When Lu- kas opened a year ago in a vaulted space in the lower town square, the restaurant was immediately awarded 15 Gault Millau points out of 20, as well as two hats. It sounds sensationalist, but once you hear that the head chef, Lukas Kienbauer, trained under the Obauers and Jo- sef Steffner, it makes perfect sense. On a nearby house façade there is a striking fresco: “Thou hypocrite, ﬁrst cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye”, taken from the Gospel of Luke and written in elaborate lettering. With this fresco, the former owner of the house wanted to take revenge against the council members who had supposedly treated him un- fairly in a legal dispute. Did it succeed? The story crops up all over the town, especially on the Via Scardinga, a theme trail which allows the historical aspects of Schärding to be experienced in the true sense of the word. The trail was opened in 2016 to commemo- rate the 700th anniversary of the town. In early texts, as far back as the year 804, Schärding was referred to as “Scardinga.” The town was subsequently inherited, sold, exchanged, seized, fought for and won. In 1369, through the Peace of Schärding, the town became part of Bavaria. In 1779, as a result of the war of succession between the Wittelsbachs and the Habsburgs, it once again be- came a part of Austria; this limited the town’s economic development for a long time, as declaring the river Inn to be a border meant that trade was only possible in one direction. In total, Schärding belonged to Bavaria for ﬁve hundred years, as the blue and white colours in the town’s coat of arms still show today. Numerous installations and information boards along the walking tour tell the history of the town or explain its ancient traditions. The “Bäck- erschupfen” for instance. If bakers were dishonest, they SCHÄRDING Upper Austria 13 In his vaulted restaurant in the lower town square, Lukas Kienbauer has cooked his way to two hats with his creative, local cuisine. On the “Via Scardinga”, the historical theme trail, you can always ﬁnd child-friendly explanations at each of the stops. 103
Small historic town were punished: if their bread was too light or inferior, they were put in a cage and lowered into the water by a kind of seesaw. Beforehand they were put in a pillory – like the one which can still be seen in the town square. Per- haps this is why the pastries at Konditorei Eibensteiner are so good? Is it the old fear of being plunged into water that inspires such high-level performance? One can only speculate, but this long established pastry-shop is one of those places where time seems to stand still. A coffee with a tender, buttery nut crescent and stress seems to melt away. I also buy way too much orange gingerbread; after all, the Konditorei is famous for its gingerbread as well as the pastries. I learn a lot on the Via Scardinga: that the pillory was something like the local tabloid, that the granite in Mos- cow’s Red Square comes from Schärding, and why the mighty clothmakers’ scissors adorn the town’s coat of arms: because there were once eight linen weavers in the town. The biggest highlights for me from the theme trail are: the masks of shame, which often had to be worn for days at a time as a punishment for petty crimes, and the fool’s mirror, in which you can see multiplied reﬂections of yourself wearing a fool’s cap – as well as many other child-friendly activities. The Kurhaus, housed in a former Capuchin monastery, is impressive. When the physician Dr. Ebenhecht opened a Kneipp Sanatorium here in 1892, he could hardly have guessed that this form of healing, based on simplicity and self-contemplation, would still be relevant over one hun- dred years later. The traditional Kneipp natural healing methods aren’t the only ones applied here now – Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine (“TCM”) are also prac- tised. All sorts of celebrities have been here, probably due in equal part not only to the wellness programme but also the excellent cuisine on offer. Right next to the health spa is the Gesundheitshotel Gugerbauer (“health hotel”), which I’m already familiar with from a private visit, and rate very highly. On the front of the building – like many others in the town – are mark- ers which commemorate catastrophic ﬂoods over the last hundred and ﬁfty years, showing clearly that life in this idyllic spot also has its dark side. In the last ﬁfteen years alone, the river Inn has burst its banks twice. But even ca- The health spa Barmherzige Brüder is the oldest Kneipp Cure resort in Austria. Today it offers Ayurveda and TCM healing too. Wellness hotel Gugerbauer: Four-star resort with its own team of doctors, physiotherapists and a gourmet chef. 104
tastrophes can have a positive side: forced renovation has transformed the building into an ultra-modern health cen- tre with its own team of doctors and physiotherapists. To- day it is known far and wide not only for its ﬁrst class ther- apies but also for its excellent cuisine. Many guests also value the centre’s expertise in fasting. Here the staff are experienced in managing alkaline diets and therapeutic fasting, and how to monitor the fasting process with pro- fessionalism and sensitivity. The Burgbrunnen and Burghof were also refurbished. The former Burghof was redesigned in 1895 as a park. In the last few years an outdoor stage has been added, where concerts are held during the summer – from classical to jazz. The Burgbrunnen, a 26 metre deep well chiselled into the granite, was rediscovered in 2003. A votive paint- ing was responsible for the discovery: it depicts a daring servant saving the daughter of the lord of the castle when she fell into the well while playing. The painting had hung for a long time in a pilgrimage church, until it was given as a gift to the people of Schärding. And so they once again became aware of the well, which had been buried in 1915, and began to search feverishly for it. With suc- cess. Today it’s a popular destination and a stop along the theme trail. From up here there’s also a wonderful view of the river Inn and the surrounding area. To the left you can follow the river Rott as it ﬂows into the Inn, which is 250-metre-wide at this point, making it wider than the Danube in Passau. In summer you can see how the muddy water of the Rott darkens the Inn at this spot. The foreground is dominated by the old Innbrücke. And to the right you can see the foothills of the Bohemian granite massifs, the Sauwald and the surrounding hills in which Schärding is nestled. Evening is arriving slowly and right next to me ﬂame- red lanterns are being lit, which instantly give the area a romantic and exotic aura. The lanterns, I discover, are part of a comprehensive series of light installations in Schärding, the Lichtkunst-Offensive. In various places throughout the town, the buildings are specially accentu- ated by light. My path back into town is illuminated by the lanterns and along the way I come across an orangery. Once a summer house belonging to Georg Wieninger, it was carefully revitalised and serves nowadays – in the middle of a splendid park – as a top-class restaurant. SCHÄRDING Upper Austria 13 The Burgbrunnen was rediscovered in 2003, after it had been buried in 1915. The Silberzeile: The Schärdinger merchants once traded here. Today it’s accentuated in the evening with artistic lighting. 105
The riverboat MS Schärding offers a romantic view of the beautiful Inn valley. The castle gate once served as the residence of the ducal castle guard. 106 Over the restaurant towers a church built on a granite rock – the Kirche am Stein. Speaking of churches: my hotel is housed in a former place of worship. The modern, comfortable rooms in the Stadthotel Schärding have been ﬁtted into the vaulted interior of the former medieval public hospital and its church. The combination is thoroughly successful and its distinctive architectural features will deﬁnitely stay in my mind for a long time. The next morning, the Kubinsaal is waiting for me; the new urban event hall, named after the well-known ex- pressionist painter, Alfred Kubin. His father was the head of the land surveying ofﬁce here and Kubin himself lived nearby in Zwickledt from 1905 until his death in 1959. It’s said that when his paintings were deemed by the Nazi regime to be “degenerate”, he could be seen around the town looking increasingly lonely and poor, and used his paintings to pay for things. You can still visit his home in Zwickledt. It’s nearly time for me to leave. But ﬁrst I want to explore all the gates of the town. The Passauer Tor, Linzer Tor, Schlosstor and ﬁnally the Wassertor on the way down to the Schiffsanlegestelle (the quay). This is where Europe’s ﬁrst brewery ship is anchored, where Captain Schaurecker hopes to revive the town’s somewhat forgot- ten brewing tradition. During a cruise along the river Inn up to Passau and back, you can witness how the wheat beer is brewed. The Pulverfass-Weisse. Schaurecker ex- plains the basic concepts of brewing and anyone who is interested can help him when the malt is milled and brewed right there on board the ship. Anyone who doesn’t want to help, can simply drink the beer. Another advan- tage: to the best of his knowledge, this is the only brewery tour that can be completed while staying seated, laughs the captain and brewmaster.
Back in the old town, it’s time to say goodbye. And how better than with a good glass of wine: I order one in the wine bar Vino, where, besides ﬁne wines, Schärdinger cheese is also sold. After a really ﬁne espresso at BARista I can board my train, totally satisﬁed. Schärding, I’ll be back when you’re gleaming in the summer. The lovely, child-friendly activities and stories on the Via Scaringa are waiting for my daughter, and for me await the many bike paths and the brewery ship. Ahoy! Further recommendations: Christophorusbrunnen: The large fountain pool symbol- ises the abundance of water in Schärding, the waterways, the electricity supplied by the hydroelectric power stations on the river Inn, and the cold and warm water therapies available here, but also the risk of ﬂooding, which the town is constantly exposed to. Schloss Neuhaus: The former Gothic moated castle burned down in 1724, was rebuilt in 1752 in the baroque style, and extended in 1900 with a church and a right wing. Today it is used as a convent and school. Kanonenkugeln: In the town museum passage, you can see real cannon balls from the War of the Spanish Suc- cession. Radweg-Eldorado: In and around Schärding there are sev- eral bike trails: the Innradweg, the Donauradweg and the Tauernradweg. Close by in Bavaria are also the Römer- radweg, Rottalweg and Apfelradweg. You can actually spend an entire week here and ride on a completely differ- ent bike path every day. Tourismusverband Schärding Rad- und Gästeservicecenter »Alte Innbrücke« Innbruckstraße 29, A-4780 Schärding Tel. + 4 / (0)77 12 / 43 00-0 email@example.com, www.schaerding.at SCHÄRDING Upper Austria 13 THINGS TO SEE Silberzeile schaerding.at Schlosspark schaerding.at Wassertor schaerding.at Stadtpfarrkirche schaerding.at Schmalste Haus schaerding.at THINGS TO DO Via Scardinga schaerding.at Innschifffahrt Schaurecker innschifffahrt.at EATING AND DRINKING BARista cafe-lachinger.at Wirtshaus zur Bums´n bumsn.at Restaurant Lukas lukas-restaurant.at Orangerie orangerie-schaerding.at WHERE TO STAY Hotel Forstinger **** Hotel-Forstinger.at Stadthotel **** stadthotel-schaerding.at Hotel Stiegenwirt **** stiegenwirt-schaerding.at SHOPPING Bauernmarkt schaerding.at Konditorei Eibensteiner eibensteiner-schaerding.at Vinothek Vino vino-schaerding.at BARista Genussplatzl cafe-lachinger.at 107
SMALL HISTORIC TOWN 108
STEYR Upper Austria 14 STEYR When culture’s your fancy Steyr doesn’t just lie on a river, this city flows on the inside too. A truly wonderful mix of a Baroque old town, monuments to industry, and a rich cultural scene and festival calendar keep up the momentum. “Steyr and the surrounding area are more beautiful than anyone could imagine,” Franz Schubert once wrote to his brother in Vienna. “I shall enjoy my time here very much.” And what’s more: “In the house in which I’m staying, there are eight young ladies, almost all of whom are beautiful. You can see that there is much to do.” Schubert had his hands full in Steyr. It’s the same story for me, as I have just two days to get acquainted with this city. Schubert’s praise is not to be taken lightly. He was devoted to beauty and was never one to abstain, as his letter to his brother demonstrates. The city’s landmark, the pretty Bummerlhaus, has more than earned the right to be visited ﬁrst. It dates back to the 15th century. The Gothic-style burgher’s house, which belonged to a well-off ironmonger, was home to the res- taurant “Zum goldenen Löwen”, and was meant to be graced worthy emblem. But townsfolk soon mocked the Baroque St. Michael’s Church, with its “Bürgerspital” at the conﬂuence of the Enns and Steyr. 109
The end of my visit is approaching. One last shopping trip takes me to the well-stocked Buchhandlung Ennsthaler bookshop. But there is still so much more to discover. It was unfortunately too cold to visit the swimming school, the oldest “workers’ pool”, ﬁlled with water from the Steyr. Not to mention the Nightwatchmen City Walk, an evening walk through the city ending with an ascent up the local parish church’s tower, from which you have a magniﬁcent view over the city. It will have to wait till next time. Or discovering Steyr with ease on a Segway. That would be something. Which is to say: Good bye, lovely Steyr! But just for now. Further recommendations: Schmollgruber Iron Clock Museum: Iron was being used to make clocks at Schmollgruber’s business as far back as 400 years ago. Discover old church tower clocks and much more. Pre-booking required. An absolute must for clock lovers. Röda: Röda is where the city – perhaps unexpectedly for one of its size – strives to offer something exceptional when it comes to pop culture. And it succeeds. Steyrtal Railway Museum: Austria’s oldest narrow gauge railway. This 17-kilometre long route between Grünburg and Steyr travels through the wild and romantic pastures along the Steyr River. Kalkalpen National Park: The national park with the larg- est forested area in Europe and the country’s biggest karst spring. A plethora of opportunities for cycling and hiking. 2021: Upper Austria Exhibition “Citizens – Nobles – Workers” Tourismusverband Steyr am Nationalpark Stadtplatz 27, A-4400 Steyr Tel. + 43 / (0)72 52 / 532 29-0 firstname.lastname@example.org, www.steyr.info STEYR Upper Austria 14 THINGS TO SEE Old town with panoramic route steyr.info Christkindl pilgrimage destination pfarre-christkindl.at Working World Museum museum-steyr.at Tunnel of Remembrance mkoe-steyr.net THINGS TO DO Segway Tour segway-in-steyr.at BMW Motoren Plant Steyr bmw-besuchen.com Steyrtal Railway Museum steyrtalbahn.at Nightwatchmen City Walk steyr.info EATING AND DRINKING Knapp am Eck Pub knappameck.at Orangerie im Schlosspark orangerie-steyr.at Beer Pub Schwechaterhof schwechaterhof.at Café-Restaurant Rahofer restaurant-rahofer.at Red Rooster theredrooster.stadtausstellung.at WHERE TO STAY Hotel Minichmayr**** hotel-minichmayr.at Hotel Mader**** mader.at Stadthotel & Parkhotel Styria**** styriahotel.at Gasthof Pöchhacker*** gasthof-poechhacker.at SHOPPING Weekly market Thursdays and Saturdays (7:30 –11:00 a.m.) Stadtplatz Leo stadtkult-steyr.at Steyr city centre steyr-shopping.at 115
…3.500 km of dream roads between the ‘Ländle’ and Pannonian steppes 116
AUSTRIA CLASSIC TOUR Dream roads through Austria This dream route runs through the most beautiful areas of Austria, where our SMALL HISTORIC TOWNS serve as appealing stop-off points for resting, strolling, enjoying the culture and, of course, spending the night. · 15 routes per day with 130-400 kilometres · Portraits of the small historic towns · Hotel tips · GPS info for navigation devices · Handy pocketbook style ONLY AVAILABLE IN GERMAN Order now! Dream roads through Austria. (Publishers: Schubert & Franzke) Euro 10,90 excl. delivery Tel. +43 /(0)72 52 / 522 90 oder email@example.com Wonderful views as far as the eye can see, winding panoramic routes over Al- pine passes, romantic trails through the Salzkammergut region or charming roads through what is known as Styrian Tusca- ny – the Austria Classic Tour will thrill drivers of any vehicle – including conver- tibles, motorbikes and vintage cars. A diverse range of routes through breath- taking stretches of land ensure that both day tours, weekend tours and week tours are packed with unforgettable highlights. There’s the Silvretta Hochalpenstraße, for example, which has 32 sharp bends and ascends to the Silvretta Reser voir at just under 2,000 m, or the Timmels joch, one of the oldest alpine passes in the country. The Staller Sattel pass is so narrow on the Italian side that it can only be trav- ersed in one direction at certain times. Those who prefer something a little less dizzying can navigate the gentle hills of Styria’s vineyards and orchards or opt for an Austrian-Hungarian tour of Lake Neusiedl and Austria’s unique steppe landscape in the Neusiedler See – See- winkel National Park. Things get a little wilder at the Gesäuse National Park, but more peaceful after crossing the Danube into the picturesque Mühlviertel, Inn- viertel and Hausruckviertel. Finally, we head over the Trumer Lakes and into the Salzkammergut region, which enchants visitors with its unique spots, mountains and lakes. Well-known winter sports regions, such as Kitzbühel further to the west, are also very enticing at other times of year, too, inviting you to linger a while before the travel bug bites again. www.austriaclassictour.info 117 117
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IMPRINT: Publisher and responsible for content: KLEINE HISTORISCHE STÄDTE in Österreich, Steyr Cover photo: Freistadt | Photos: Tourismusverbände der Kleinen Historischen Städte Editorial: Markus Deisenberger | Concept and Design: www.cocowerbung.at | Print: GRASL FairPrint 119
SMALL HISTORIC TOWNS SEE EXPERIENCE ENJOY BADEN bei WIEN BAD ISCHL BAD RADKERSBURG BLUDENZ BRAUNAU am INN BRUCK a. d. MUR FREISTADT GMUNDEN HALLEIN JUDENBURG KUFSTEIN RADSTADT SCHÄRDING STEYR SMALL HISTORIC TOWNS IN AUSTRIA Stadtplatz 27 | 4402 Steyr | Austria Tel. +43/(0)72 52 / 522 90 | firstname.lastname@example.org www.khs.info