Danube River Castles,Baroque Cathedrals, Wachau Valley, Austria Photos
PURCHASE GREAT MEMORIES OF YOUR TRIP TO MELK ABBEY, DANUBE RIVER WACHAU VALLEY , AUSTRIA- FOR HOME OR OFFICE.
This gallery features photos of Danube River Castles,Baroque Cathedrals, Wachau Valley, Austria
Wachau Valley-UNESCO World Heritage Site
Wachau is a stretch of the Danube Valley which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In this stretch, the Danube winds its way 30 km (19 miles) between Melk and Krems in Lower Austria. In 2009, Wachau Valley was selected ‘Best Historic Destination in the World’ from 109 historic destinations by specialised journalists in the National Geographic.
This gallery features images of Wachau country villages with castle ruins on craggy cliffs or on hilltops, baroque cathedrals, vineyards, and beautifully colored autumn foliage.
Melk and the Melk Benedictine Abbey
It towers over the town and the Danube on a high cliff, visible from afar and imposingly large: since the Babenberg Margrave Leopold II gave his castle and church on the cliffs above Melk to the Benedictine monks in 1089, Melk Abbey has become a spiritual and cultural centre for Austria. A school was founded here in the 12th century and the foundation laid for the abbey’s still unique library. The magnificent sun-yellow Baroque building, which reflects the significance and power of the monastery and stands as a classic example of the high Baroque period was built between 1702 and 1736 to a design by Jakob Prandtauer.
Highlights for visitors are: the Imperial Staircase (‘Kaiserstiege’), the Marble Hall (‘Marmorsaal’) and the abbey library, the frescoes with Paul Troger’s inimitable blue, the abbey church and the view of the Danube from the terraces. Finally the Abbey park, spread over several levels, enchants visitors with its frescoed garden pavilion, the ‘Little Garden of Paradise’, an alley of 250-year-old lime trees and a number of exhibits by contemporary artists.
The Marble Hall (Marmorsaal) is light, bright and richly decorated with ceiling frescoes and other ornaments. It was used as a dining room and guest room in former days. This gallery features the Hall's ceiling fresco by Paul Troger (1731) showing: Pallas Athena on a chariot drawn by lions as a symbol of wisdom and moderation. Hercules is to her left, symbolizing the force necessary to conquer the three-headed hound of hell, night, and sin. Both Pallas Athena and Hercules are disguised references to Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI .
The Library (Bibliothek) has magnificent inlaid shelves weighed down with some 100,000 precious books and 2,000 manuscripts. The room is a work of art in its own right featuring another grandiose ceiling fresco by Paul Troger.
The abbey church, a classic example of the high Baroque style, has an impressive barrel vault and 64-metre-high drum cupola, each with ceiling frescoes by Johann M. Rottmayr. The largest bell in Lower Austria is rung in the tower on Christian feast days. The interior has a high altar, the pulpit, the beautifully carved confessionals and choir stalls, the ceiling frescoes by Johann Michael Rottmayr, and the great organ
Castles and Historic Churches between Melk and Durnstein
Schloss Schönbühel was initially built in the early 12th Century by Marchwardus de Schhoenbuchele on a site where it is believed that a Roman fortress had stood many years before. The family had possession of the schloss for about two hundred years and changed ownership numerous times over the centuries. Schloss was ultimately sold in 1819 to Count Franz von Beroldingen who rebuilt the run down Schloss and made it inhabitable again. In 1930 his great nephew sold the Schloss to Count Oswald von Seilern-Aspang who then lost it for a brief period to the Nazis and subsequently the Russians. However it was returned in 1955 and has remained in his family ever since. The schloss features round fortified towers and red tiled roof that can be seen from the Danube – from some distance. It is privately owned and not open to the public. Not far away is a second remarkable building – the former Servite monastery which features a reproduction of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
Aggstein castle ruins
300 meters above the Danube, the former fortress of Aggstein perches above the Danube like a falcon’s nest, a romantic motif for photographers. The ruins date back to medieval times. The castle was believed to be built in the 12th century by Nizzo von Gobatsburg and occupied in 1181 by the Kuenrings, and then conquered by robbers, despite the efforts of the Kuenrings who were supposed to protect the Danube trade route. Locals tell of the legend of the robber baron Scheck vom Wald, who put his captives ona rocky precipice, his ‘little rose garden’, and gave them a choice: jump or starve. In 1438, Scheck von Wald received the right to tolls for ships travelling upriver. In return, he had to maintain the towpaths by which the barges were drawn upstream. In addition he built a toll house on the riverbank that now serves as a forestry house. Over time, he became a robber baron, raiding the ships on the Danube. Hence his nickname, "Schreckenwald", (wordplay on his family name, Scheck von Wald, meaning "Terror Forest"), which is said to have been given to him because of his cruelty towards the population. Today, medieval feasts are held here, torch-lit banquets in authentic costumes. Weddings also take place here either in the open air or in the knights’ hall.
Hinterhaus Castle in Spitz
The oldest part of the castle dates back to the 12th century. In the 13th through the 14th century, the Knights of Spitz dominated this castle, which in turn the Kuenringern were subjected. The castle is just down river from the Tausendeimerberg.
Tausendeimerberg The hill set in the middle of Spitz actually has two names: ‘Burgberg’ (Castle Hill) towards the cemetery and ‘Tausendeimerberg’(Thousand Bucket Hill) towards the Danube. A thousand buckets of wine equals about 57,000 litres, which is supposedly what the Bavarian monks harvested on the 310-metre-high hill. Weißenkirchen
This picturesque wine-making locality has long been a special place. Weißenkirchen was once the centre of the ‘Magistrat Thal Wachau’ (Wachau Valley Municipal Administration) – the original Wachau, so to speak. A particularly striking building in the town is the imposing fortified church, towering over the neat vintners’ houses and harvesting yards with its angular tower and Gothic tiled roof inclined at 60 degrees. Almost underneath the church, the Teisenhoferhof is worth a visit, housing the Wachaumuseum.The parish church at Weißenkirchen used to be one of the most important church strongholds in Lower Austria, with its covered steps and the Teisenhoferhof beneath, which was built in the 13th century on a chapel dating from the 11th century.
Dürnstein or Duernstein
The view of Dürnstein from the Danube is especially beautiful and images in this gallery attempt to capture this. Visible from some distance, the blue and white bell towers of Stiftskirche towers above the tiled roofs as does vineyards, and the famous hilltop Kuenringer Castle. This town can only be viewed on foot, cars are not allowed in the old town center. The historic centre of Dürnstein features Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque buildings creating a romantic urban ensemble. On Hauptstrasse. bounded to the east by the Kremser Tor (gate), you can see many pretty town houses from the 16th to 18th centuries, some of them with sgraffito decoration.
The highly decorative towers belongs to the Church of the Augustinian Canons. However, the monastery was dissolved at the end of the 18th century and the church has since been looked after by Herzogenburg Abbey. It was built in 1410 and has one of the finest baroque towers in the whole of Austria.
This famous castle above the town held Richard I of England, the Lionheart as a captive in 1192.He was released after England paid a huge ransom. In 1645, during the Thirty Years' War. Swedish troops burned Durnstein, leaving the castle in ruins.
Some useful travel resources are:
Wachau Valley Information