Moving through Upper Austria on travel and themed routes
When someone takes a journey, he or she will have something to tell. But what about when a journey, or better said, a route has something to tell the people who travel it? Then we are probably talking about a themed route in Upper Austria, which doesn't mean, though, that there won't be exciting stories to tell back home. On the contrary.
They follow old travel routes and lead to where excellent works of art are hidden or illustrate regions with old handicrafts and professions. We are talking about the great themed routes in Upper Austria. They are definitely travel routes with lots of culture. The Mühlviertel to the north of the Danube is a real stronghold for themed routes. For instance, unbelievable Gothic gems survived the later waves of “Baroque-isation” and are today stations on the Mühlviertel Gothic Route near Freistadt. When you stand in front of the finely chiselled carvings of the Kefermarkt Winged Altar, you’ll have no idea that a church with three such works awaits you along the way in Waldburg. Of course, the starting and finishing points are is Freistadt, which is a living Gothic monument itself with its old churches, castle and city fortifications.
Weaving has a long tradition in the Mühlviertel. From Schwarzenberg to Weitersfelden, right through the middle of the region, the Mühlviertel Route of Weavers follows the relicts of this profession. Stations are, for instance, companies that still weave or the Färbermuseum (Dyers’ Museum) in Gutau. A by-product of linen production is linen oil, which is a classic in regional cuisine and produced in Haslach. The Mühlviertel is definitely a region where old traditions are lived and mementoes of past handicrafts are cherished. The Mühlviertel Route of Museums between Windhaag and Pregarten provides a good overview. There you can still find people weaving, sawing and dyeing in full force and the tradition of reverse glass painting is still preserved.
What the Route of Weavers is for textile fans, is what the Route of Iron is for fans of sturdy work pieces. It follows the footsteps of the “Black Counts”, the legendary forge owners, in the valleys of the Enns, Steyr and Krems. In the southwest of Upper Austria, the iron from the Erzberg was delivered by water. The aforementioned rivers powered the forge hammers and products desired all over Europe were made on the anvils: The legendary “blue scythes”, nails from Losenstein, knives from Steinbach an der Steyr, the famous “feitel” from Ternberg, the Jew’s harps from Molln and lots, lots more. Swords and armour from Molln are still in high demand in the twenty-first century. And who are the customers? For instance, the Vatican’s Swiss Guards.
One of the oldest travel routes in Central Europe is the Danube. The river was already the classic west-east connection in times when paved roads over such distances were pure luxury. Crowned heads travelled on the “Route of the Emperors and Kings”, which is what the Danube is called between Neumarkt in the Upper Palatinate and Budapest by culture tourists. Mighty castles protected the Danube as a commerce and travel route, monasteries offered their hospitality and cities and markets benefited from their location on the river.
Those who have a thing for idylls are in the right place on Upper Austria’s Romantic route. It leads from Salzburg to Vienna past the cosiest places the country has to offer. Lake Mond, St Wolfgang, Hallstatt, Bad Ischl, Lake Traun with Gmunden, Wels, Steyr, St Florian and Grein – even this incomplete excerpt of Upper Austria’s towns along the Romantic Route demonstrates that it’s a good idea to stay a while, since each of these stop-offs has so many stories to tell that you should definitely plan in enough time.