Explore Castles and Wine in Austria

The Aggstein Castle, on the Danube River near the Wachau Valley in Austria, is presumed to have been built in the 12th century.
The Aggstein Castle, on the Danube River near the Wachau Valley in Austria, is presumed to have been built in the 12th century.

You may have sailed past these castles while journeying on a cruise, or while sightseeing on a separate trip, but some of these destinations may have even more of a story to tell.

Aggstein Castle, on the Danube River near the Wachau Valley in Austria, is accessible by car ride along the Way of St. James from the village of Maria Langegg. The castle is presumed to have been built in the 12th century, with hidden stairways, courtyards, towers, a dungeon, knights’ hall and its own tavern. There is also the property’s chapel, which is available to reserve for christenings and weddings. Wrought-iron chandeliers adorn the knights’ hall, which can also be reserved for larger gatherings and banquets.

Aggstein Castle has viewing platforms that are available for guests to look over the surrounding mountains and stone walls.
Aggstein Castle has viewing platforms that are available for guests to look over the surrounding mountains and stone walls.

Aggstein Castle also has viewing platforms which are available for guests to look over the surrounding mountains and stone walls, allowing visitors to appreciate all that the countryside of Austria has to offer.

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Kreuzenstein Castle stands 860 feet above sea level in the immediate vicinity of the intersection of the Danube river and the Vienna Woods.
Kreuzenstein Castle stands 860 feet above sea level in the immediate vicinity of the intersection of the Danube river and the Vienna Woods.

In lower Austria, Kreuzenstein Castle also affords panoramic views, as it is perched on a wooded hilltop overlooking the village of Leobendorf. Built in the 12th century, the castle was later destroyed in 1645 during the Thirty Years’ War by the Swedish army laying siege to Vienna. Later in 1702, the ruins of Kreuzenstein had come into the possession of the later Imperial Count and Field Marshall Heinrich Wilhelm von Wilczek, by marriage to the last daughter of the house of Saint-Hilaire. The castle is open daily, April 1 to November 1, for private and group tours.

Durnstein Castle is a former monastery that is surrounded by vineyards and verdant forests.
Durnstein Castle is a former monastery that is surrounded by vineyards and verdant forests.

It is widely believed that in 1192, Durnstein Castle was one of the sites where King Richard I (“Lion Heart”) was imprisoned throughout his trials during the Thirty Years’ War. A former monastery, the property is surrounded by vineyards and verdant forests. A Baroque tower overlooks the site, which has ivory-colored stone walls and roofs tinted a burnt-orange color.

Stift Melk, a former Benedictine abbey just above Melk in Lower Austria, is perched on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Danube River.
Stift Melk, a former Benedictine abbey just above Melk in Lower Austria, is perched on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Danube River.

Stift Melk is a former Benedictine abbey set just above the town of Melk in Lower Austria. It is perched on a rocky outcropping that overlooks the Danube River, adjoining the Wachau Valley. Among the highlights is the tomb of Saint Coloman of Stockerau, as well as the remains of members of the House of Babenberg, Austria’s first ruling dynasty.

The property comprises multiple rooms, The Abbey Museum, church, marble hall, library and Baroque Garden Pavilion, created by Johann W. Bergl, with frescoes showing exotic animals and plants, and jungle scenes.

Guided tours are available from early November to mid-March, offered daily between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.; they are conducted in both German and English. Note: Guided tours for groups need to be booked in advance through [email protected], or by calling 011-430-275-255-5232.

The Austrian Tourism Office recommends Pegasus for small group or FIT visits to the country. One of the packages they design for guests is the Vienna-Salzburg-Innsbruck-Graz tour, a six night/seven day excursion that includes a panoramic city tour through Vienna past famous buildings and gardens, and a visit to the 900-year-old Hohensalzburg Fortress overlooking the city.

Guests will also be shown by a local guide to Landeszeughaus, the largest armory in the world. Other highlights of the trip include visits to Schönbrunn Palace (a World Cultural Heritage site), Salzburg, Mirabell Palace and Swarovski Crystal World.

Wines, grapes and vineyards also play a major role in daily life throughout certain regions of Austria. Pegasus suggests taking time to visit Waberer Wines & Grapes, in Mistelbach, about 45 kilometers northeast of Vienna.

The site is run by Alexander Waberer, a fourth-generation oenologist with a passion for providing guests with quality vintages. The vineyard offers more than wine tastings and tours; visitors are invited to participate in vineyard picnics and sample light fare offered on site. Wine varieties there include Sauvignon Blanc, Welschriesling and Muscat Red.

The vineyard’s wine cellar is also available for private functions and guests touring as a group can even have customized bottle labels made. Personal wine degustation with the vintner can also be arranged upon special request.

To schedule the Vienna-Salzburg-Innsbruck-Graz tour or arrange a visit to Waberer Wines & Grapes, contact Renate Forte at [email protected].

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