The Region of Mostviertel
The hub of the Mostviertel is Austria’s youngest provincial capital with the oldest city charter, St. Pölten. On a walkman-guided strolling tour of central St. Pölten, a largely pedestrian precinct, you become acquainted with several of the most stunning jewels in this “Baroque treasure box” of a town, particularly the cathedral and the diocesan museum. The starting point is the tourist information office in the Town Hall on the main square (Hauptplatz). An interesting counterpoint is the new government quarter on the Traisen River with its arts district, including the Festspielhaus and the Shed Hall, an exhibition building.
A short distance downstream along the Traisen is the Abbey of Herzogenburg, a monastery complex designed by one of Austria’s most illustrious Baroque architects and home to a fine art collection. Directly on the Danube is Traismauer, a former Roman settlement. Of more recent vintage is Schloss Schallaburg, an impressive Renaissance pile near Melk with terracotta artworks adorning the Italianate arcades of the triangular main courtyard. It attracts many visitors every year with its major exhibitions.
Twenty miles to the south of the provincial capital is one of the most significant and beautiful monuments to medieval architecture in all of Austria, the Abbey of Lilienfeld. Tour the wonderful abbey church, the cloisters, the impressive picture gallery and library as well as the original dormitories and storage halls where a permanent exhibition on the Babenberg Dynasty is now on display.
To the west of the road that follows the old pilgrimage route over the Annaberg to Mariazell in Styria is the Ötscher-Tormäuer Nature Park. This pristine nature preserve with waterfalls and a large dripstone cave is an ideal place for hiking, mountain biking and rafting. This scenic alpine area is particularly romantic when viewed from the narrow-gage Mariazell Railway.
The western Mostviertel is lovely hill country sprinkled with hundreds of thousands of fruit trees. Its main attraction is the Abbey of Seitenstetten, a Baroque complex famous for its fine collection of paintings and cabinet of natural history and minerals. Local farmers modeled their own farmsteads on its four-sided layout. Another Baroque delight is the nearby Sonntagberg Basilica. A wonderful way to experience this harmonious landscape is on a hike over the Panorama Culture Path or on a drive along the Mostviertel highroad (Höhenstrasse).
Not far away is Waidhofen an der Ybbs, often called the “Rothenburg of Austria” because of its superbly preserved medieval core. It serves as the gateway to the Eisenwurzen, a region which becomes increasingly alpine and forested to the south and which has been shaped since the Middle Ages by its proximity to the Erzberg, a surface-mined ore mountain in the neighboring province of Styria. Ybbsitz, Opponitz, Hollenstein, Göstling, Scheibbs, Purgstall and the other communities in the Ybbs and Erlauf Valleys have joined together to form the Niederösterreich Iron Road. This association has restored numerous forges, hammer works and mansions as well as set up museums, demonstration plants and educational paths to create a diverse program for tourists on the history of the local iron industry.
The town of Lunz is situated near the end of the valley in the catchment area of three idyllic alpine lakes and makes a perfect base for exploring the area. A wonderful and nostalgic way of doing so is on a narrow-gage steam-driven railway. For example, the Ötscherland Express travels across trestlework bridges and affords magnificent views of the region. Further down the road is the splendidly restored Carthusian monastery in Gaming. It has served as the intellectual and economic center of the Alpine Mostviertel for over 650 years and is well worth a visit.
Top things to do
Visit blossom of pear trees in April and May
The Moststraße (Perry Road) tourist route. Unique Mostviertel perries
In the western part of the Mostviertel, where the countryside looks just like a huge garden, the people have dedicated themselves heart and soul to the production of perry, i.e. pear cider. This makes them unique among Europe's cider-growing regions, where apples tend to dominate. In the region surrounding the 200 km-long Moststraße, a plethora of different pear varieties ripen on several hundred thousand gnarled pear trees, favoured by the mild climate south of the river Danube.
Traisental - wine - Stift Herzogenburg - Abbey Herzogenburg
In the heart of Lower Austria: A charming little winegrowing region with long tradition.
Mild side of Traisen Valley: Full of vineyards
Small-terraced vineyards rolling softly up and down the hills, rustic wine taverns, idyllic cellar-lined roads, a rich cultural heritage and internationally renowned wines: The tempting Traisen Valley is the one and only winegrowing region in the Mostviertel.
Naturpark Ötscher Tormäuer and Mariazeller Bahn - Mariazell Railroad
Since more than a hundred years, Austria’s longest small-gage railway, the Mariazell Railroad, winds its way along majestic summits, first and foremost landmark Ötscher.
The Ötscher is a summit visible from far and wide and is the landmark of the Mostviertel region. In 1970, the land surrounding it was made into a park (Naturpark Ötscher-Tormäuer) 170 square kilometers in size. This makes it the largest nature park in Lower Austria and for many, the most impressive. “ÖTSCHER:REICH – The Alps and Us”, the 2015 Lower Austrian provincial exhibition, provides fresh stimuli and appealing packages and has three venues: Frankenfels-Laubenbachmühle, Wienerbruck and Neubruck.