Stay 29 : World heritage, discovering Austria and its secrets

Stay 29 : World heritage, discovering Austria and its secrets.

Occidental Route

Stage 29/35 - 284 kms


0 km Bratislava

79 kms Vienna

78 kms Krems an der Donau

37 kms Melk

90 kms Mariazell

carte Bratislava a Mariazell

Bratislava : the most glamorous city of Europe

Bratislava - Slovakia

Bratislava - Slovakia - © Mapics - Fotolia.com

Bratislava has an obvious charm, the old town, sophisticated restaurants, traditional pubs, good music ranging from jazz to opera and also elegant people. Known as Pressburg or Hungarian Pressburg, Bratislava got its current name only 90 years ago. But the city has a long and proud history dating back to pre-Roman times. The long history of Bratislava, such as the Celtic house, the Romans, the Germans, the Hungarians, the Jews and  Slovaks. Bratislava was in the past one of the most important centers of Jewish learning in Europe, its most famous rabbi, the Chatham Sofer and the Jewish culture Museum of the city celebrate this heritage. The Danube itself is, of course, one of the main assets of the city. There are several cafes along its banks. There is an eponymous bar above the river.

Vienna : A city center UNESCO world heritage

Vienna - Austria

Vienna - Austria - © dglavinova - Fotolia.com

Vienna is the capital and largest city of Austria. It hosts many international organizations, including the United Nations and the OPEC. The city is located in Eastern Austria and is close to the borders of the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. In 2001, the city-centre was appointed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Indeed, there are many reasons to visit Vienna. The city is world famous for its imperial heritage, the castle of Schönbrunn, the Belvedere and the Hofburg. Its major cultural and musical attractions will seduce you : concert halls, museums and theatres. The Golden Hall of the Musikverein at the Museum of Fine Arts and the State Opera are also famous. More than half of the city are green spaces, including parks and gardens, the forest of Vienna and the wetlands of the National Park of Donau Auen.

The historic centre of Vienna

The urban and architectural features of the historic centre of Vienna are exceptional testimonies to a permanent exchange of values throughout the 2nd millennium of our era. Three key periods of the cultural and political development of Europe, the Middle Ages, the baroque period and the Gründerzeit, are particularly well illustrated by the urban and architectural heritage of Vienna. The land consists of a medieval soul based on the Roman settlement, the major Baroque ensembles with their axes and the Gründerzeit buildings since the beginning of the modern period. Vienna is located on the Danube, in the eastern part of Austria. The former Roman military camp, whose traces are still visible in the current medieval urban fabric of Vienna, was located on a plain, Western of a former branch of the Danube.

Palace and gardens of Schönbrunn

Schoenbrunn Palace Gardens, Vienna, Austria

Schoenbrunn Palace Gardens, Vienna, Austria - © mRGB - Fotolia.com

The site of the Palace and gardens of Schönbrunn is known as one of the most impressive and well preserved baroque ensemble of its kind in Europe. It is impossible to separate the gardens from the Palace, from which they seem to be an organic extension. It is an excellent example of the concept of a total artwork, a magistral fusion of many art forms. The wide baroque gardens with their buildings and statues show the dimensions and the imperial functions of the Palace. Its original intention was to combine the glorification of the House of Habsburg with a tribute to nature. The Orangery beside the main building of the Palace is 186 meters long, the longest in the world.

Krems an der Donau : The beauty of a preserved city

krems-an-der-donau- Austria

krems-an-der-donau- Austria - © krokotraene315 - Fotolia.com

Krems an der Donau is the Eastern Gate of the Wachau Valley, one of the most beautiful river landscapes in Europe. This history, dating back over a thousand years, is evident everywhere in the streets and in the squares, in the old monasteries and churches, in the townhouses and fortifications. The historic centre of Krems is one of the most beautiful in Europe. Over the centuries, the builders and architects have created a unique landscape which has been lovingly maintained and preserved. These efforts have not gone unnoticed. In 1975, Krems has been identified as a "model city for historic preservation” and in 2000, it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage. With all this history, you might think that the city is dominated by the past. In fact, Krems is very open to modern life. Contemporary art and culture play an important role.

Melk : a picturesque town witness of the past

Melk - Austria

Melk - Austria - © pitsch22 - Fotolia.com

Melk is picturesque town of Austria near the Wachau Valley, along the Danube. It is best known as the site of a baroque Benedictine monastery called the Abbey of Melk. The city was first mentioned as Medilica in 831 in a donation from Louis the German, the name comes from a Slavic word. The area around Melk was given to margrave Leopold I in 976 to serve as a "border". That was a buffer zone between the Magyars in the East and West of Bavaria. In 996, an area known as Ostarichi was mentioned, which is the origin of the word Oesterreich in German, which means Austria. Melk received the rights on the market in 1227 and became a municipality in 1898. In a very small area, Melk presents a lot of architectural variety from many centuries.

The cultural landscape of the Wachau (between Krems an der Donau and Melk)

As a valley of the Danube, the cultural landscape of the Wachau is distinguished by a long historical evolution. The valley is well known for its production of apricots and grapes, which are both used to produce liqueurs and special wines. It also has impressive buildings and picturesque historic towns. Wachau is located along the Danube, between Melk and Krems, in collaboration with the tracks and the neighboring Dunkelsteiner Wald and southern Waldviertel. The abbeys of Melk, Dürnstein and Göttweig are among the most beautiful baroque buildings in Austria. Wachau is a part of the Danube valley between Melk and Krems, a high visual quality landscape. In terms of architecture, it keeps many traces intact and visible, including especially the monasteries, castles and ruins. It takes also into account the urban planning such as the cities and villages, as well as agricultural use, mainly for wine growing.

Mariazell : An Austrian pilgrimage

Mariazell - Austria

Mariazell - Austria - © Renáta Sedmáková - Fotolia.com

Mariazell is a small town in Austria well known for winter sports. It is a place of pilgrimage for the Catholics of Austria and the neighboring Eastern countries. The object of worship is an image of the Virgin Mary, carved from linden wood, who is reputed to perform miracles. Brought to the place in 1157, it is now in a chapel decorated with valuable items. The large church, in which the chapel is included, was erected in 1644 as an extension of a small church built by Louis I, King of Hungary. The beautiful Alpine Lake of Erlaufsee is located in the vicinity of Mariazell. In terms of culture and monuments, the most remarkable one is the Mariazell Basilica, built in the 14th and 15th centuries, but with a superb baroque interior, which are the three towers on its western front. 

The Gate of Peace

Mariazell is the most famous place of pilgrimage in all Central Europe. This sanctuary is basically Austrian, but so dear to different nations. The devotion to our Lady has no national borders and its favors are not granted to these limits. This Gate of Peace was erected on the Austrian soil to allow people of this country and the different surrounding nations, torn by conflicts, to crystallize their best wishes in the person of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace. Thus, the history of Mariazell is above all the history of the miracles that occur in the souls of tens of thousands of people, the members of the aristocracy, the leaders and the senior officials who came there, stripped of their official clothing and symbols of importance, few people could distinguish them from the crowd. Everyone did it and still does the same penitence.

They move forward, on their knees, up to the main stairs, with arms outstretched, or they wear heavy blocks of stone to commemorate those who have also, by penitence, helped to build the church. There were, and there are still sometimes unforgettable scenes during the procession, when the pilgrims prostrate on the ground. People who can not make the pilgrimage but who have the feeling that their prayers to Our Lady of Mariazell were heard, write letters which are kept in the archives. This custom prevails even today. The letters are addressed "to our beloved Mother of Grace”.

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