Sights along the Danube: The Wachau Valley in Lower Austria

Melk Abbey: For more than 900 years, Melk Abbey has been regarded as Austria’s foremost spiritual and cultural center. Its walls house a fascinating museum, informing visitors of its history and present-day use. The Abbey’s interior includes a number of highly impressive features such as the marble hall and the library. The views across the Danube valley, also known as the Wachau Valley, are spectacular and the Abbey’s late baroque church is an extravagant edifice, built to glorify God. The Abbey grounds, featuring a baroque pavilion, the ‘Benediktusweg’ (St. Benedict’s Walk),’talking stones’ and the ‘Little Paradise’ garden, invite the visitor to relax and re-energize.

Göttweig Abbey: Owing to its magnificent location, this baroque Benedictine monastery is often referred to as Austria’s ‘Monte Cassino’. Particularly impressive are the monumental ‘Kaiserstiege’ (Emperors’ Stairs), adorned with Paul Troger’s famous fresco, the Abbey church and the former imperial rooms, which now house alternating exhibitions. At the foot of the Göttweiger mountain, the visitor can admire 125 year old giant redwoods and other exotic trees. The educational nature trail to the arboretum displays over 50 species of trees and other flora rarities from all over the world. The restaurant offers wonderful views over the Danube valley.

Artstetten Castle: This magical castle, with its seven distinguished onion domes, is the imperial family’s former summer residence. The heir apparent, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and his wife are buried in the castle grounds. The Archduke Franz Ferdinand Museum provides additional information. Impressive ancient trees, such as copper beech and white cedar, are some of the castle garden’s attractions.

Schallaburg Castle: Schallaburg Castle is not only one of the most beautiful renaissance castles north of the Alps, it is also widely known for its first-grade, annually changing cultural, historical and archaeological exhibitions.

The Ruins of Castle Aggstein: The castle ruins are majestically situated at about 300 metres altitude above the Danube. Legend has it that this is where robber baron Jörg (Georg) Scheck von Wald (Jörg Scheck of the Forest) held his captives hostage in the ‘Rosengärtlein’ (the little rose garden). Today’s visitors are captivated by the romantic ambience of the castle ruins.