| Lower Austria
(Niederösterreich), to the north and west of Vienna, is the
largest Federal Province, encompassing stark mountain scenery, the
Alpine foothills, the Danube Valley and the hilly country north
of the Danube with its meadows, ponds and lakes. The Wachau
Valley of the Danube River with its vineyards and ruins
is an attractive destination, less well known than other parts of
the country, the most interesting stretch between Krems
an der Donau and Melk can best be explored by bicycle or
The Provincial capital is home to a Cathedral, the bishop’s
residence, a Franciscan church, a church of the Carmelite Nuns with
museum and several Baroque patrician houses.
The spa of Baden bei Wien has a casino, a sulphur
bath cure, a summer theatre and a harness-racing (trotting) course,
the spa has long been popular with the Austrian aristocracy.
Krems an der Donau has been a wine-growing
town since the middle ages and the Piaristenkirche
and the Winestadt Museum both feature important
works of the 18th-century artist Johann Martin Schmidt.
To the north of Landstrasse much of the original town layout remains,
with numerous renaissance houses and small squares.
an der Donau is famous for its enormous Benedictine Abbey
on the bluff above the town (although it was less well known as
a pilot for the next phase of Nazi concentration camps). Semmering
is both a spa and an attractive ski resort.
Deutsch-Altenburg boasts a museum and the Roman archaeological
park Carnuntum. In Dürnstein, the castle ruins
where Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned, the medieval town centre
and the monastery church with its Baroque excess of statues of saints
are part of every tour. The sights of Retz include
subterranean wine-cellars, well-restored medieval city walls, windmills
and a Dominican church, and Rohrau is noted as Joseph Haydn’s
birthplace. The Austrian Military Academy (an old
castle), the Cathedral, a Capuchin church
and a former Jesuit church (now the city’s
museum) can be visited in Wiener Neustadt. The
abbey, library, state rooms and chapter house at Zwettl
are of some interest. Burg Rosenau hosts a Museum
of Freemasonry. The Thayatal National Park, on
the Thaya River on the border with the Czech Republic is a transborder
protected area of what is left of the European forest. The Donau-Auen
National Park to the east of Vienna is the last protected
area of European rainforest.