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HIGHLIGHTS


Krems
Kloster Und
Steiner Tor
Dominican Monastery
Piaristen Church

Stein
Furth
Göttweig Abbey
Dürnstein
Weissenkirchen
Spitz
Jauerling
Maria Laach
Dunkelsteiner Forest
Maria Lamgegg
Aggstein Castle
Schönbuhel Castle
Willendorf
Melk Abbey
Pöchlarn
Maria Taferl
Artstetten
Ybbs an der Donau


SURROUNDINGS



Waldviertel
St. Pölten
Schallaburg Castle
Mariazell
Ybbs Valley
Strudengau
Danube Cruises


TRAVEL


Austrian Airlines and British Airways
flights from Heathrow io Vienna
Various low cost airlines operate
from regional airports to Vienna
and also to Linz


Wachau-Nibelungengau - Blue Danube


The romantic, rocky stretch of the Danube has been declared a UNESCO world heritage landscape.
It is a beautiful region steeped in history and legend, and known for its wine and cuisine.


...

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Accommodation in the Wachau Nibelungengau region; castle hotels, quality hotesl, pensions ACCOMMODATION


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Melk Abbey
WACHAU-NIBELUNGENGAU

The Wachau is the 30km stretch of the Danube where it cuts a rocky gorge between the foothills of the Bohemian Forest and the Dunkelsteiner Wald on its course between Melk and Krems. This beautiful region, with steep-sided, densely wooded southern slopes and a mixture of crags and south-facing vineyards on the north side of the river, was recently declared a World Heritage landscape by UNESCO. Dotted along the banks are a series of historical small towns and wine-making communities. This is also a region of romance, steeped in legends and tales rangingfrom the imprisoned Richard the Lionheart being discovered by his wandering minstrel, to the infamous 'rose garden' of Aggstein Fortress, the story of the Devils Wall and the mediaeval epic poem of the Nibelungenlied. Some of Austria's finest white wines are produced here, from grapes ripened on terraces clinging to the rocky slopes. The famous Riesling originated from these vineyards while the more ubiquitous Grüner Veltliner may be enjoyed in riverside taverns "Heurigen" throughout the Wachau. Above all, this is a region for relaxation, for long strolls through vineyards and woods or up to castle ruins, for easy cycle rides on traffic-free tracks, for exploring legends and history, and ultimately for indulging in the exceptional restaurants for which the region is renowned - from modest wine taverns to the famous Prandtauerhof at Joching.



We can offer you a wide range of quality accommodation where the emphasis is on character and hospitality, ranging from the romantic Schlosshotel Dürnstein, a former riverside palace, to historic wine lodges, private pensions, first class hotels and even the castle at Oberranna. Private transfers can be included in addition to car hire, local cycle hire through many hotels, river cruises and of course scheduled flights. Please browse through our extensive selection of accommodation or choose one of our romatintic long-weekend packages (see below). We have specifically excluded flights to enable you to choose lo-cost airlines such as Easyjet or Ryanair if you prefer. Alternatively we can quote for scheduled flights with Austrian Airlines or British Airways to Vienna, usually starting at about £120.00 including taxes.


KREMS-STEIN
The historic Danube port of Krems an der Donau stands at the eastern end of the Wachau. It is a major shopping centre with excellent facilities and is one of Austria's most picturesque towns. Surrounded by vineyards, the oldest part of the town is situated on higher ground at the mouth of the Krems valley while the newer districts are on the banks of the Danube. The old town has many historical buildings, from fine burghers houses to beautiful baroque and gothic churches, the Italian-style Gozzoburg Palace with its arcaded courtyard, the unusual Sgraffitohaus and the remains of fortifications. The principal landmark is the Steiner Tor, the 'Stein Gate' dating from 1480, a gateway into the town with a tall baroque tower between two mediaeval towers with pointed roofs. Beyond the gate is Stein with which Krems forms a joint township. When the original town walls were pulled down, a third settlement, "Und", came into being and gave rise to the sayingt, ' Krems Und Stein are three towns'. Krems and Stein were founded at the junction of two ancient trade routes and because of their industry in trade and commerce (wine, iron, wheat, and salt) they sometimes surpassed even Vienna. Since Roman times the growing of vines for wine production has been the main reason for the growth and wealth of the area. Indeed, the renovated monastery of Und, Kloster Und, recently housed the national wine college and now comprises an excellent restaurant and local wine merchant.

Stein, which was the harbour of Krems, is a delightful place which has preserved much of its 'old-world' charm with narrow alleyways, and fine, historic buildings and two town gates. Steps lead steeply up to the Gothic church and the narrow Kellergasse where wine cellars back onto the hillside with its terraced vineyards, and where some of the best 'Heurigen' are located.

These towns make an excellent base for exploring not only the Wachau, but also the nearby Waldviertel and Göttweig Abbey across the Danube. There are good rail, road and river connections, In addition to a good range of shops and an outdoor market, Krems offers a wide range of amenities including indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennic courts, ice rink, mini-golf and several companies offering cycle hire.

Fortified Church at
Weissenkirchen
DÜRNSTEIN
The romantic, little town of Dürnstein is steeped in history. Surrounded by a triangle of fortified walls and towers, and positioned against rugged cliffs overlooking the Danube, it is the most popular tourist attraction in the Wachau. Within its walls is an Augustinian convent, a masterpiece of Baroque arhictecture, and a church with one of the finest Baroque spires in central Europe - a prominent landmark along the Danube valley. There is a magnificent doorway leading from the courtyard, whilst the interior is noted for its stucco reliefs on the ceiling and altarpiece by the architect, Kremser Schmidt. The convent was renovated in the 1980s, a process which included the painting of the church tower a deep powder blue with neat white lining (rather reminiscent of a piece of Wedgwood), based on flecks of original pigment found in cracks in the stonework. The town is over-shadowed by the ruins of the Kuehnringer Castle where Richard 1 (Richard the Lionheart) was imprisoned following a dispute with Duke Leopold VI during the Third Crusade in 1193. According to legend he was discovered by his wandering minstrel Blondel - the name is everywhere in the town! The view from the castle ruins, or that from the Starhemburg Warte (30 minute walk), are among the finest along the Danube, encompassing the historic town below and the river curving towards you beneath steep cliffs and terraced vineyards.

Dürnstein possesses a selection of excellent restaurants and hotels include the famous Schloss Hotel Dürnstein. Despite its popularity most visitors come by coach or boat on day trips so the town is relatively peaceful in the evening. In addition the road and railways pass beneath in tunnels so there is no traffic. There is also decent, more modest accommodation in the nearby wine-growing comunity of Loiben. Cycle paths follow the river bank and wind through the vineyards and wineries of Weissenkirchen and Loiben, whilst a ferry crosses to Rossatz on the south bank of the river.
DDSG boat at Dürnstein

INDULGE YOURSELF WITH A ROMANTIC LONG-WEEKEND BESIDE THE BLUE DANUBE



Hotel Schloss Dürnstein


One of the loveliest, luxury 5-star hotels in Austria, perched on a rock overlooking the Danube, and with its own private tunnel to the boat station.
Hotel Schloss Dürnstein is a Rennaissance-style palace built in 1630 and furnished with period furniture and valuable antiques from several epochs.
It has been a member of the Relais & Chateaux since 1978 and offers a wide range of modern amenities.
The hotel comprises 41 rooms and suites with en suite bathrooms, cable TV, minibar, safe and internet access.
There are also small conference or function rooms, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, sauna, steam bath, fitness room,
a renowned restaurant offering the best in Austrian wines and cuisine, and even cycle hire.
A Danube terrace provides exceptional panoramic views and a peaceful retreat in which to relax.






Hotel Raffelsbergerhof, Weissenkirchen

A lovely Rennaissance former Shipping Master's house with a central courtyard dating from 1574.
The Raffelsberger Hof has been carefully restored and converted into a comfortable hotel with 15 beautiful rooms with en suite bathrooms,
cable TV, safe and minibar Other facilities include an exclusive wine bar, terrace and cycle hire.
A perfect place for strolling, or cycling through the vineyards to Dürnstein
or perhaps to spoil yourself over a candlelit meal for two at the famous Prandtauerhof restaurant





WEISSENKIRCHEN
A picturesque, peacful wine village dominated by its fortified church and surrounded by vineyards and backed by wine terraces and orchards. Together with the neighbouring villages of St. Michael, Wosendorf and Joching, this is the largest wine producing community in the Wachau. Weissenkirchen possesses many historic buildings including the arcaded Renaissance Tiesenhoferhof (mid 16th century) which now houses the interesting Wachau Museum, and an attractive riverside promenade. The gothic church at St, Michael is noted for its unusual charnel house, and for the ornamentation on the church roof - this represents a number of animals walking along the ridge - one story suggests that these are the signature of the builder Siebenhaas - "Seven Hares", others suggest that they represent a severe winter when animals were seen on the roof escaping the drifts. In the hamlet of Joching you will find the beautiful baroque Prandtauerhof (1696) which now contains one of Austria's premier restuarants. Other notable restaurants in the vicinity include Jamek, also in Joching, the Baroque Florianihof in Wösendorf and the historic Donauwirt (1524) in Weissenkirchen. All have an excellent repuation for their excellent food and fine selection of Wachau wines. Jamek is also a winery which organises wine-tastings throughout the year.



SPITZ AN DER DONAU

Spitz is one of the larger villages on the north bank of the Danube, a well-established holiday resort, and an important wine-growing community surrouding a low hill called the Tausendeimerberg, the '1000-Bucket's Mountain'. In a good year it was said that this hill, which is covered in terraces vineyards, would yield 1000 barrels of wine. Like Weissenkirchen the vineyards encroach on the village which also contains a host of historic buildings including the Erlahof, a former monastery farm which now contains the Danube Shipping Museum. The town overlooked by the Hinterhaus Castle ruins which incorporate a Romanesque keep.


AGGSBACH MARKT and WILLENDORF
Aggsbach Markt is a small wine growing community at the foot of the Jauerling (980m) and facing the steep slopes of the Dunkelsteinerwald forest across the river. Nearby, the small hamlet of Willendorf gained its place in history following the discovery of a female fertility idol dating back to the middle stone age. The 'Venus of Willendorf' is now in the Vienna History Museum but the find is commemorated by an oversized statue of the 'Venus'.


AGGSTEIN FORTRESS
Aggstein Markt is overshadowed by the mighty 12th century Aggstein fortress ruins across the river, high on a rocky hill. It was once the possession of the powerful Kuehnringer, 'Robber' Barons who threw chains across the river to stop passing ships and impose taxes or to rob them. The castle which provides a spectacular viewpoint contains a tavern.
The 'Rose Garden' - The castle became the property of Jörg Scheck vom Wald (nicknamed the 'Terror of the Woods') who rebuilt the castle and would kidnap properous travellers. There is a particularly gruesome tale which relates how prisoners for whom no ransom was forthcoming, were thrown onto a ledge below the castle known as the ‘Rose Garden’ where they were faced with either of two options: dying of starvation or hurling themselves onto the jagged rocks far below in an attempt to escape.
A ferry crosses the river between Aggsbach Market and Aggsbach Dorf at the foot of the castle hill.


EMMERSDORF
At Emmersdorf the Wachau ends and the legendary Nibelungengau begins. This attractive, historic village comprises two parts, the historic Hofamt high above the village with superb views over the Danube to Melk Abbey, and the village centre with its attractive historic houses including the excellent gasthof zum Schwarzen Bären. The village provides a good, central base for visiting both regions and nearby Melk.


MELK
This town on the south bank of the Danube marks the western entrance to the Wachau and is dominated by its impressive baroque Benedictine Abbey. It is one of the most important baroque buildings in Europe and and has been an important religious centre since the 10th century AD. The present abbey and monastery buildings which strectch back along a bluff overlooking the town, was commenced by Jakob Prandtauer in 1702 and completed by his pupil Josef Munggengast in 1738. This is one of the great sights of Austria and has recently been painstakingly renovated. The baroque church with its twin towers and a large dome is richly decorated with gold leaf, marble columns and frescoes, while the beautiful library contains more than 2000 manuscripts and 90000 books, some of them more than 1000 years old. The old town of Melk is also picturesque with its narrow alleys, squares and historic town houses such as the Lebzelterhaus dating from 1657.


THE LEGEND OF THE DEVILS WALL

A very steep rockface rises abruptly from the road, just west of Spitz.
This is the 'Teufelsmauer', the 'Devils' Wall'. According to legend the devil was
angered by the excellent attendance at the church in St.Johann on the
opposite side of the river. To put an end to this he decided to build a dam to
drown the church. His work had to be finished by daybreak so he bought all
the cockerels in the area so that they could not herald the dawn. However,
one old lady refused to be parted from her cockerel so when dawn came
the cockeral crowed and the Devil was forced to abandon his unfinished work
and the church and village wers saved. The Teufelsmauer is all that
remains of the unfinished dam, and to add credence to the story you will
see on top of the church the golden cockerel and the Devil's arrow,
for he shot the poor bird out of revenge!


Stein a,d,Donau / Spitz, and the Danube from the Hinterhaus Castle ruins /
Kuenringer Castle above Dürnstein

Durnstein / Aggstein Castle / Melk Abbey

Spitz / Courtyard at Melk Abbey / Church at Dürnstein, view from the Schlosshotel







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