Lower Austria

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Travel Guide Europe Austria Lower Austria

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Introduction

Konigstetten - the view from the balcony

Konigstetten - the view from the balcony

© All Rights Reserved Rish_n_Ben

The state of Lower Austria (German: Niederösterreich), is located in the eastern part of central Austria. It borders to the Czech Republic in the north, and Slovakia in the east. In the central part of this Bundesland flows the river Danube. Within the state, lies the city state of Vienna. The capital of the state is Sankt Pölten.

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Geography

Situated east of Upper Austria, Lower Austria derives its name from its downriver location on the Enns River, which flows from west to east. Lower Austria has an international border, 414 km (257 mi) long, with the Czech Republic (mainly South Moravia) and Slovakia. The state has the second longest external border of all Austrian states. It also borders the other Austrian states of Upper Austria, Styria and Burgenland as well as surrounding Vienna. Lower Austria is divided into four regions, known as Viertel (quarters):

  • Weinviertel or Tertiary Lowland (below the Manhartsberg)
  • Waldviertel or Bohemian Plateau (above the Manhartsberg)
  • Mostviertel (above the Vienna Woods)
  • Industrieviertel (below the Vienna Woods).

These regions have different geographical structures. Whilst the Mostviertel is dominated by the foothills of the Limestone Alps with mountains up to 2,000 metres high, most of the Waldviertel is a granite plateau. The hilly Weinviertel lies to the northeast, descends to the plains of Marchfeld in the east of the state, and is separated by the Danube from the Vienna Basin to the south, which in turn is separated from the Vienna Woods by a line of thermal springs (the Thermenlinie) running north to south.

Almost all of Lower Austria is drained by the Danube. The only river that flows into the North Sea (via the Moldau and the Elbe) is the Lainsitz in northern Waldviertel. The most important rivers north of the Danube (on its left bank) are the Ysper, Kamp, Krems, Lainsitz, March and Thaya. South of the Danube (on its right bank) are the Enns, Ybbs, Erlauf, Melk, Pielach, Traisen, Schwechat, Fischa, Schwarza, Triesting, Pitten and the Leitha.

Lower Austria is rich in natural caves; in all 4,082 have been recorded. Most of the caves have formed in limestone and dolomite rocks and are therefore called karst caves. Cavities also form in the marble of the Central Alps and the Bohemian Massif.

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Sights and Activities

Mayerling

Mayerling Is a small town of around only 200 people to the southwest of Vienna. The town is most famous for the events that happened at the small hunting lodge on January 30, 1889. On that fateful night Crown Prince Rudolf was found dead together with his mistress Mary Vetsera, apparently as a result of suicide. There are many theories about what happened, but none was confirmed over the years. On the site where the Prince was found, a chapel was built, which can be visited. It is also planned to open a visitors center here.

Schloss Hof

Schloss Hof

© All Rights Reserved Herr Bert

Schloss Hof

A bit outside of Vienna, and close to the border with Slovakia lies the Schloss Hof. It was commissioned by Prinz Eugen of Savoy in 1726, to be used as a summer residence/hunting lodge. After him several members of the Habsburg royal family used it for the same purpose. In the last decades the palace was renovated and made accessible for visitors. Besides the palace itself the Meierhof and the gardens (that includes a small zoo) hold enough to keep you entertained. In the summer season there are festivals, markets and concerts. There are as well several workshops aimed at children. Before Christmas there is a Christmis markets in the Advent weekends.

Stift Melk

Melk Abbey

Melk Abbey

© All Rights Reserved Stefani528

The most famous sight of the little town of Melk is the famous abbey Stift Melk. The abbey can be visited and has guided tours. These are mainly in German, but in the summer season, there are also tours in English, French and Italian. In 2011 a new part of the abbey will be opened for the public.

Wachau

The Wachau is a fertile valley along the Danube river. It makes for a popular daytrip from Vienna, for instance by train to Melk, then by boat to Dürnstein (Duke Leopold V of Austria kept Richard I the Lionheart as prisoner at Dürnstein Castle) or Krems and back by train.

Stift Klosterneuburg

The Augustinian monastery Klosterneuburg was founded in 1114 by Leopold III of Babenberg. The abbey church was conscated in 1136 with the altar made in 1181 by Nicholas of Verduna. The monastery was from in the 17th century with Emperor Charles VI to make Klosterneuburg a secular and spiritual center after the model of the Escorial in Spain. Only the east and the north wing where finished, with some more work done in the mid 19th century by architect Joseph Kornhäusel.

Laxenburg castle

The old Laxenburg castle became Habsburg owned in 1333 and served as a summer residence. The Blauer Hof Palace was built around 1710 and in 1780 the hunting grounds with the Franzensburg on a little island was rearranged as an English landscape garden. The Schönbbunner Schlossallee was a direct Allee to Schönbrunn Palace. There was also a train line, the end station. Kaiserbahnhof is now a fairly good restaurant.

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Getting There

By Plane

The nearest international airport is the airport of Vienna: Vienna International Airport (VIE) It is the main hub of Austrian Airlines and services flights from Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Dozens of airlines use the airport. Some of the main places served include Moscow, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Rome, Barcelona, Madrid, Lisbon, Helsinki, Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm, Athens, Istanbul, Dublin, Riga, Berlin, Malta, Montreal, Toronto, Amman, Astana, Cairo, Bangkok, Beijing, New York, Washington, D.C., Tehran, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, Taipei, Dubai, Seoul, Doha, Jeddah and Kiev.

By Train

Check the website of ÖBB (Österreiche Bundesbahn) for more information and timetables.

By Car

From the west to the east the A1 West Autobahn run through the state. It roughly follows the Danube, until Melk, from there it heads straight to Vienna, where the Danube, makes a detour in a more northern direction. From Vienna to Graz the A2 Süd Autobahn, from Vienna to the east (Hungary and Bratislava) the A4 Ost Autobahn and from Vienna to the north the A5 (to Brno, not all the way finished).

By Boat

From mid April until early October there are regular boats through the Wachau from Melk to Krems with stops in Emmersdorf, Spiez, Weissenkirchen and Dürnstein bei Brandner and DDSG.
There are also boats from Vienna to Bratislava by Twin City Liner.

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This is version 27. Last edited at 8:20 on Aug 27, 18 by Utrecht. 5 articles link to this page.

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