T H E  L U X U R Y  T R A V E L E R


Feldkirch: where Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Liechtenstein converge

SMALL HISTORIC TOWNS IN AUSTRIA
(Encore Edition)

"Small Historic Towns in Austria," is an organization of communities that share very important characteristics.  For example: each town reflects its long history through protected monuments, historic buildings and districts.  Invariably, a town's heritage may have originated with the Romans or Turks.  And, the Habsburgs will probably have played a major role in forming local culture and traditions.

This month, we are pleased to tell you a little bit about each of these marvelous communities.   Our journey will take us to Austria's oldest and smallest town.   Along the way, we'll pass through others that are "fortified," "medieval," onetime "royal residences," baroque treasures, spas or famous for the wines they produce.

We are grateful to "Small Historic Towns in Austria" for permitting us to tell their story, largely in the  lexicon of their own authoritative words.  For further information we recommend a visit to their web site where special itineraries on the themes of: "Wine Tour", "Art and Architecture", "High Mountains - Old Towns" and "The Tauern Gold."  Each tour features member communities.  Your may follow this link to the "Small Historic Towns in Austria" web site

BADEN

Widely known as a resort, Baden also offers the diversity of Europe's largest casino, a thoroughly modern Thermal Spa and a famous operetta theatre.  The center of the town, which was completely rebuilt during the Biedermeier Period, after it was destroyed by the conflict with invading Turks and extensive fires.   As evidenced in the noble town houses, palaces and beautiful squares of this city architecture, art and garden cultivation flourished in the reconstructed city.  The imperial court moved its summer residence to Baden in the years 1803 - 1834.   Vienna, the Wachau and Lake Neusiedl are only a few kilometers away from Baden

Attractions

Town Square:  containing the Town Hall, Emperor's House and the Column of the Holy Trinity

Josef's Square:  with the Ladies' Bath and nearby Floral Plinth

Museums:  Emperor Franz Josef Museum, Roulette Museum, Dolls and Toys Museum, Beethoven House

Baden Congress Casino:  richly traditional spa salon, now a modern events center

Baden Roman Thermal Spa:  Caribbean flair under Europe's largest glass roof, whirlpool, attraction pools, sports pools and two external pools

Thermal Beach Spa: Art Deco, like a former Austrian Adriatic spa with a gigantic sand beach

Rosarium:  20,000 roses in the park of the former Weikersdorf Aquatic Palace

BAD ISCHL

At the turn of the last century, Bad Ischl was the place to recuperate in nearby forests, traditional alpine meadows,  mountain peaks, or to enjoy a summer's holiday.  Cures for respiratory and cardiovascular ailments have been successfully used there for over 175 years.  Between a cure and a walk, one met at Zauner, and in the evening one amused oneself at the theatre with a Lehar operetta.  Today, one may stroll through Ischl and experience old traditions as they were long ago, but now carefully renovated and modernized.

Attractions

Kaiservilla:  a Hapsburg residence, located in woodland above Bad Ischl

Lehar Villa:  residence of the composer Franz Lehar

Town Museum:  engagement residence of Franz Josef and Elisabeth

Marble Palace:  the empress's former teahouse, now a museum of photography

Konditorei Zauner:  existing since  1832, offers 200 different types of fresh pastries daily

Haenel Pancera:  private museum with art collection

Congress and Theatre House:  in the Kurpark and numerous town houses from the royal and imperial monarchy period

BAD RADKERSBURG

With its sumptuous buildings and facades, this Styrian thermal spa town, has been an important trading center for centuries.  Today, you may explore an authentic Old Town, with small, individual shops, shady guest gardens, charming cafes, and the park thermal spa.  In this vital town, modernity and a love of life merge with history and tradition.   In 1978, Bad Radkersburg became the only town in Austria to receive the European Gold Medal for Memorial care.

Attractions

Town Square with Town Hall Tower:  late Gothic - late Baroque town symbol

Column of the Virgin:  memorial of the plague in 1680

Herberstorff Renaissance Palace:  sumptuous inner courtyard arcade of Italian building art and medieval tower connected to the town fortifications

Gothic Town Parish Church and Museum in the Old Armory:  a walk through the history of the town and region

 Frauenplatz, Frauentor, Frauenkirche:  examples of the late Baroque

ENNS

With its Renaissance and Baroque facades, tower and fortified walls, this medieval town is located on the banks of the Danube.  In 1212, Enns received town rights from Duke Leopold VI.  Indeed, this is the Oldest Town in Austria.   First established in about 500 B.C a larger settlement was built a century later and then expanded by the Romans as legionnaire camp for 6,000 soldiers.  While visitors interested in culture enjoy the Old Town, local gastronomes indulge their guests with regional specialties at inns, restaurants and cider taverns.

Attractions

Town Tower:  400 years old, around 60m high - symbol of the town - offers a majestic panoramic view (156 steps)

St. Laurence Basilica:  important excavations, Roman town temple and Carolingian Church containing the two largest oil paintings in Austria:  "Lorcher Bishops" and the "Enns Town Saints"

St. Mary's Town Parish Church:  one of the oldest churches of the Mendicant Orders in Austria (around 1276) with an early Gothic "Walseer" chapel (1343)

Lauriacum Museum:  awarded the "Austrian Museum Prize" by the Federal Ministry for Science and Research, former town hall, one of the oldest buildings, prehistoric collection, Lauriacum Roman Central Museum

Ennsegg Castle:  built in 1570, with inner courtyard arcades, provincial music school

FELDKIRCH

This tranquil medieval town of the Montfort Counts, is located where Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Liechtenstein converge.  Visitors may stroll its winding passages and narrow lanes.  Fascinating little shops, cafes and restaurants with guest gardens will invite them to linger in one of the oldest cultural areas of Europe. The tradition of Alemannian folk culture is apparent at local festivals and celebrations, which complement the ambience of this charming small town.

Attractions 

Schattenburg:  13th century, located idyllically over the rooftops of the town

Museum of Local History in Schattenburg Castle.

Katzenturm:  remains of the old town walls with the largest bell in Vorarlberg

St. Nicholas Cathedral Church:  Vorarlberg's most important Gothic church, wrought iron work and paintings of the Danube School

Town Hall:  built in 1493, served as a corn exchange, the upper floor as a textile hall, frescos show the events of the town's history   

The Hospice with the Church of Magdelena with medieval frescoes

Provincial Conservatory:  accommodated the "Stella Matutina" Jesuit school around 1900, played an important role in Thomas Mann's novel, The Magic Mountain

HALL/TIROL

With countless towers and gables at the foot of the great Bettelwurf mountain, the winding lanes of this enchanted little town are lined with impressive Gothic and Baroque town houses.  All around the upper town square, said by many to be the loveliest in Europe, is life full of activity.  A farmers' market with local produce, cozy cafes with homemade delicacies, inns and taverns rich in tradition with regional specialties, little shops pique the visitor's curiosity.  Gothic and Baroque memorials, town houses and treasures are witnesses to open and vital culture that has been completely maintained to the present day.

Attractions

Town Hall:  since 1406, the town palace of Count Heinrich of Gorz and Tyrol from 1295-1335

St. Nikolaus Parish Church:  Gothic church, converted to the Baroque style by Adam Molk in 1752, asymmetric nave

Chapel of St. Magdalena:  mentioned in records in 1330, late Gothic winged altar

Hasegg Castle - Munzerturm - Alte Munze:  the old mint, with Tower dating from 1489

Museum of Salt Mining:  reproduction of the Hall Valley mined closed down in 1967

Hall Town Museum:  the history, art and culture of Hall

IMST

"Mei Imscht" - a poem by Jakob Kopp, tells about this little town in the highlands of Tyrol.  Gothic and Baroque churches and town houses enfold 18 historic fountains with figures of the saints, are as easy to find here as traditionally evolved customs and a sympathetic population with a sunny attitude to life.  Modern Tyrolean way of life in a historic ambiance, at cafes, pubs and cultivated gastronomy, at the theatre or when shopping.  The town today, counts among the most lively district towns in Tyrol.

Attractions

Assumption of Mary Parish Church:  15th century frescos on exterior walls, Tyrol's highest church tower

Church of St. John:  late Gothic with Baroque side altar

Guardian Angel Fountain:  from the Baroque Period, considered the most beautiful of the 18 historic fountains in the town

Imst and Tarrenzer Local History and Rural Museum: objects from the Fugger Period, sculpture, sacred art and rural arts and crafts will reopen in 2003

Fasnachtsmuseum:   impressions of traditional Imst customs and celebrations

JUDENBURG

Set amidst delightful town houses is the highest free standing town tower in Austria.  Today, the town's symbol, the four story, high town tower, was first a watchtower in the town's fortifications. The city rests gently against the Seetal Alps and still reflects the Mediterranean charm of long ago in the days of the Venetian traders.   Rustic inns, restaurants, cafes and confectioners know how to indulge their guests.  In the evening the "mature" bar culture in the town centre invites one to a cozy end to the day.

Attractions

Town Tower:  1449-1509, the highest free standing town tower in Austria, with viewing gallery

Town Parish Church:  Baroque church with side chapels, life size limestone figure of the "Judenburg Madonna"

Jesuit Monastery and Jesuit Church:  founded in 1364, four winged building with a Gothic hall church

Korblerhaus:  town house with enchanting inner courtyard

Prankerhaus:  medieval arcade courtyard

St. Magdalena Parish Church:  frescos and glass painting of great artistic significance

Judenburg Town Museum:  comprehensive collections to the history and art history of the town

KUFSTEIN

Massive fortifications still give a stark testimony of the important position Kufstein enjoyed in the Middle Ages.  Today, a well maintained Old Town and tranquil farmhouses echo the centuries of culture, and rich traditions of the Tyrolean way of life.

Attractions

Kufstein Fortress:  first mentioned in 1205, glass encased lift from the town centre up to the fortress

Fortress and Museum of Local History:  offers insights into the history, customs and geology

Heroes Organ:  built in 1931, largest free standing organ in the world with 4,307 working pipes

Romerhof Lane:  part of the Kufstein Old Town with the well known "Auracher Lochl" and "Batzenhausl" wines taverns

Town Parish Church of St. Vitus:  late Gothic hall church, converted to the Baroque in the 17th century, late Classic renewal in 1840

Tyrolean Glassworks - Riedel Glass:  glass manufacturing since 1756, glass blowing show and museum

LIENZ

Sunrise at the Karntner Tor, a cycle through wet cornfields, a hike through the Hohe Tauern National Park a leap into the refreshing Tristach Lake, the only bathing lake in East Tyrol.  A walk next to the roaring waterfalls in the Gallitzen Gorge, a stroll through the pulsating town centre of Lienz, a sunset behind the rugged cliffs off the Lienz Dolomites - that's how a day on holiday in the Lienz Dolomites runs is course.

Attractions

Bruck Castle:  former fortification of the Counts of Gorz, museum with gallery, famous artists such as Alvin Egger Lienz and heraldic hall and Gothic castle chapel.

St. Andrews Parish Church:  the town's oldest church with a grave plaque of Leonhard, the last of the Counts of Gorz.

Liebburg: a representative building erected on the main square by the counts of  Wolkenstein Rodeneggs - since the renovation of the building it is used as the town hall.

Franciscan Monastery and Church:  from the 15th century, church nave of a uniform Gothic character

Isel Tower:  part of the original town walls, 16th century

Tyrol's Oldest Painted Roadside Cross:  in the Karntner Strasse, around 1400

Dominican Monastery:  1220, among the oldest buildings in the town

Aguntum:  the only Roman town in Tyrol, a blossoming trade and commercial centre in the 1st and 2nd centuries, an archaeological park today with the Aguntum Museum and excavation site

Lavant:  St. Ulrich's Pilgrimage Church with the remains of an early Christian bishop's church within a castle refuge of the Late Antiquity (5th century)

RADSTADT

The medieval town is located in the heart of the Radstadt Tauern, on the sunny terrace of the Enns Valley.  Lanes, squares, buildings, bear witness to an ancient culture.  The region's rich traditions are  valued by the local people, and guests enjoy the warm hospitality.

Attractions

Town Parish Church:  late Romanesque, with Paul Hofhaymer memorial organ

Schusterturm:  late Gothic lantern of death in the town parish church graveyard

Capuchin Church and Crypt:  with Baroque high altar

Town Fortifications;  13th century, with fortifications and 3 fortified towers (1527 - 1535)

Witches Pond and Capuchin Tower:  witness to old fortifications and Museum of Local History

Schjeikstiege, Metzgerloch, Baderstiege, Sparkassenpassage, Stocklloch, Graveyard:  6 passages from the town centre to the town walls

Lerchen Castle:  first mentioned in documents in 1298, renovated in 1779, Museum of Local History

Loreto Church:  Baroque church, for special occasions only

RUST

The untouched medieval town, where invading Turks were thwarted, is the smallest administrative district in Austria. Rust is the smallest town in Austria with its own town rights.  It is famous as the town of the storks and noble wines.  The picturesque ensemble of cultivated town houses from the 16th to the 19th century is surrounded on one side by the Rust hill country vineyards and by Lake Neusiedl on the other.  The decoration on the brightly colored Baroque and Renaissance facades give the town its unmistakable character.  Romantic inns, wine taverns and restaurants indulge their guests.

Attractions

Fisherman's Church:  12th - 16th century fortified church without a tower, containing the oldest frescos in Burgenland

The "Eye of God" House:  second quarter of the 18th century, 2 story oriel and gable with the "Eye of God"

Old Town Portal:  built originally of wood in 1512, destroyed by the Turks, rebuilt in stone in 1612

Magazine:  former observation tower, integrated into the town walls, which surround almost all of the Old Town today.

Seehof:  group of several private Baroque houses.  Events and communication centre today and the seat of the Austrian Wine Academy

SCHARDING

A picturesque town amidst lush meadows, carefully tended fields and the wooded hillsides of the Sau Forest.  The old portals, baroque gables, quaint corners and winding lanes of Scharding that once enticed famous artists and writers, invite today's visitor to dwell among its attractive shops, sidewalk cafes and centuries old brewery inns.  From May to September, visitors to Scharding can enjoy the Brunnenthal Concert series of Ancient Music.  The Scharding Town Festival will take place June 5th to 8th, to be followed by Old Town Festival in August.  

Attractions  

Upper Town Square with Silberzeile: town houses with baroque facades in the late medieval guild colors of the town

Linzer Tor: double portal with fortified wall passage

Passauer Tor: also known as All Saints Portal

Wassertor: low circular tower with a period roof and inner courtyard, fresco of St. Florian

Schlosstor: a museum of local history

Old Inn Bridge: with pilings from the 12th century.

SPITTAL/DRAU

Culture and rich traditions make Spittal a town for all of the senses.  Renaissance buildings, such as the Porcia Palace,  Schuttpacher Town House or Khevenhuller Town Palace set the scene for this visually stimulating city.  In the local area, the people of Spittal's local mountain, and the idyllically located Millstatt Lake promise an experience of peaceful exploration and relaxation.  A stroll through the Old Town is a journey through history with interesting discoveries to be found at every turn.  Elegant, or traditional shops, farmers' markets, solid home cooking, cozy cafes and pubs offer a social life by day and by night.

Attractions

The "Annunciation of Mary" Town Parish Church:  built in 1307, burial place of numerous Ortenburgs

Petzl Brewery:  late Baroque Josephinian facade, served as brewery to the prices of Porcia

Spittl:  former hospice in the style of a Renaissance palace - accommodating the technical college today

Schuttpacher Town House:  characteristic Renaissance citizen's house with inner courtyard arcades

Khevenhuller Town Palace:  3 story Renaissance building with arcades, the town hall today

Porcia Palace:  unique Renaissance work of art, the second floor accommodates the Museum of Folklore

STEYR

At the confluence of the Enns and Steyr Rivers lies an especially delightful jewel of old urban building art - the romantic town of Steyr.  Time seems to stand still here.  Countless historic buildings and a very special atmosphere entice one in all seasons for a walk through the town , or a raft trip from Steyr to Staning.  Or simply to stroll at one's leisure.  Epicurean enjoyment of the Upper Austrian cuisine is to be found here as equally as modern shops, antique markets, flea markets or farmers' markets and top class events.

Attractions

Town Hall:  one of the most important Rococo memorial buildings in Austria

Bummerlhaus:  symbol of the town and the best preserved secular building in the province

Lamberg Palace:  built in 980, completely burnt down in 1727, and rebuilt by the Lamberg counts as a Baroque palace

House of Local History:  museum with historical art and cultural collections

World of Work Museum:  unique industrial museum

Dunkelhof:  from the 15th century, inner courtyard with 16th century arcade passage

Christkindl Place of Pilgrimage:  Baroque Church of the Christ Child

WELS

A small, fine, historic but not antiquated town - of very human proportions.  The historic town square of Wels, with its 64 town houses, counts among the loveliest enclosed urban squares in Austria.  The inner part of the town was converted to the Baroque style in the 18th century.  Building of the horse drawn railway and numerous industrial endeavors took place in the first half of the 19th century.    Today, a leisurely stroll through the town, viewing old buildings discovering modern shops and stopping at a cozy cafe for delicious meal are only a few of the possibilities offered to visitors in Wels.  Weekday markets, as well as seasonal, animal and theme markets ensure the vitality of the town and attract many people from the region. 

Attractions

Ledererturm:  the last of 4 town towers of the medieval town wall

Town Hall:  Baroque facade with extremely beautiful window baskets

Minorite Monastery:  from the 13th century, important frescos in the chancel and cloister, event location and archeological museum.

Haas-Hof:  one of the loveliest arcade courtyards in Wels, from the 16th century

Wels Castle:  Emperor Maximilian I died here in 1519;  culture and exhibition centre

Water Tower:  built in 1577 as a water container for public fountains and town houses

Town Museum:  contains the Wels Town Gallery

ZELL AM SEE

Among snow covered mountains and the crystal clear Zell Lake, this magical medieval town nestles against the rising slopes of the Schmittenhohe.  A leisurely and active feeling for life is complemented to make an attractive mixture for local people as well as guests.  Ancient inns, restaurants, bars and pubs work their magic with their ambiance and culinary pleasures.  A variety of cultural and sport offers in all seasons.

Attractions

Town Parish Church:  from the 11th century, Gothic frescos, late Gothic gallery, Baroque statues

Kastner Tower (Vogt Tower):  Oldest building in the town (before 1,000), formerly as military protection for the adjacent monastery, Museum of Local History today

Rosenberg Palace:  the symbol of Zell built in 1583 with a quadratic ground plan, for corner towers and a round middle tower - influence of southern Bavaria, the town hall today

Prielau Palace:  Pinzgau residence from 1425

Erlhof:  the oldest Thumersbach rural estate, mentioned in records in 1151

Use this link to visit the Small Historic Towns in Austria website