Braunau am Inn:
Home to Baroque Houses & Adolf
Salzburg got Mozart, Graz got Arnold Schwarzenegger and Braunau is even more screwed in terms of natives: It is the birthplace of Adolf Hitler. Nevertheless, it is a pretty place worth a visit with a city centre full of Baroque merchant′s houses and narrow lanes. It borders to Bavaria and lies by the River Inn, which puts it into a definite historic framework: Culturally influenced in the triangle between Salzburg, Bavaria and Austria, rich through the salt trade that followed the river similar to Schärding and spiritually dominated by the powerful bishop of Passau.
Within this frame, Braunau offers plenty to discover. The main square Stadtplatz is embraced by merchant′s houses with pastel-colour facades. The medieval main tower or Torturm with a little carillon or "Glockenspiel" is one of the most prominent features of the town. More impressive, though, is the parish church Stephanskirche, a 15-century church with a Gothic core and a so-called "Zwiebelturm" (onion dome) that was added later.
The historic core of the city recalls its longstanding history: Founded around 788 (when the oldest records appear), Braunau got the status of a city in 1260. In the following centuries, it was a prime battleground in the constant struggling between Habsburgs and Bavarians. This lasted until 1816, when the leaders of Europe decided on the Vienna Congress that the Innviertel (the region in which Braunau is located) will go to Austria - once and for all. Today, Braunau is one of the biggest cities of Upper Austria with a total population of almost 18,000.
Sightseeing beyond Braunau′s PR Problems
Not an attraction in the classic sense is Hitler′s birthplace: a massive rock of granite from the concentration camp Mauthausen, coarsely carved and decorated with the lines: "Für Frieden, Freiheit und Demokratie - Nie wieder Faschismus - Millionen Tote mahnen" (For peace, freedom and democracy - Never again fascism - millions of dead remind). Adolf Hitler′s father was a customs officer at the time of little Adi′s birth, but the family moved repeatedly during Hitler′s childhood and youth. He spent his most shaping childhood days in Linz, which he later considered his hometown.
If you are going to Braunau by car, you might want to stop by at Obernberg am Inn, which is some 25 kilometres downstream of Braunau and other pretty Innviertel county town. Similar to Braunau and Schärding, Obernberg got its prosperity from market privileges and the trade following the River Inn. However, it is even less touristy than the other two towns and thus a real gem just waiting to be discovered be real individualists.
The trouble that there is little else to do in the region: It is mostly agricultural land, so the spa of Gainberg and the numerous pretty little towns are the main attractions unless you continue to go down to Salzburg and the Salzkammergut. By the way: Another of the "very pretty, but not too spectacular" Innviertel towns is Ried im Innkreis with the typical array of Baroque houses along a main square. Ried is my birthplace. The monasteries of Kremsmünster and Reichersberg are within reach by car.
Back to: "Upper Austria Sightseeing Guide"