Touring the Marchfeld Plain & Eastern
Danube Area - Part I
There is a plain just East of Vienna that is famous for its fertile soil. Farmers from this stretch of land in Lower Austria are wealthy and raise vegetables. White asparagus is particularly famous. The name of this plain is "Marchfeld" and before it turned into a vegetable field, it served as a battleground on numerous occasions. If people in Austria speak of the "Battle of the Marchfeld", they usually mean the one between the troops of Rudolf of Habsburg and King Ottocar of Bohemia, in which the latter one got killed and thus lost both, his life and the rule over Austria.
This was in 1278 and opened the way for the most dogged dynasty in history. Something like half a millennium later, another Habsburg led the Austrian armies into the "Battle of Aspern" in the Marchfeld, fighting the troops of Napoleon, who in turn suffered his first defeat ever. Only two months later, the French empire struck back and in the "Battle of Deutsch-Wagram", the Marchfeld got soaked in blood once again, this time when the French crushed the Austrian armies.
Altogether, approximately 150,000 men got killed in these two battles. These were only the darkest moments of the Marchfeld - apart from those, there were innumerable fights involving Turks, Magyars, Huns, and god knows what ever else wanted to get hold of Vienna.
Castles: Niederweiden, Schlosshof & Marchegg
Today, the Marchfeld is calm agricultural land but attracts tourists despite of its unexciting flatness. There are a few main attractions: Two Baroque castles, Schloss Niederweiden and Schlosshof, as well as the scenic towns of Marchegg and Hainburg. For many visitors, the Marchfeld makes a good package together with the National Park Donauauen.
The two castles were both designed for victorious and very powerful generals of Austria that earned their fame and fortune in the Turkish Wars: Niederweiden was built for the Count of Starhemberg, Schlosshof for the legendary Prince Eugene of Savoy. And both castles were designed by one of the two most famous architects of Austrian Baroque: Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach (Niederweiden) and Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt (Schlosshof).
Niederweiden was built in 1693 and resembles a French Chateau. It is situated by a main road and its formal gardens were dissolved a long time ago. Thus, the building looks a bit out of place and it not very well-used. There are temporary exhibitions in the castle and the interiors justify a brief stop. In particular the oval, central cupola hall with a trompe l′oeil painting is worth noting.
Rural Sightseeing near Vienna
Schlosshof was extensively refurbished in the last couple of years and was taken back to its Baroque glory step by step. It was the countryside resort of the immensely rich Prince Eugene of Savoy and built in the 1720ies. Today, it houses temporary exhibitions and guided tours are held inside the castle (which is actually rather a palace). By the way, I took the photograph on the homepage of TourMyCountry.com at Schlosshof. When I was there for the first time, the gardens were in poor shape - similar to those of Niederweiden.
Impressions of the Baroque castle Schlosshof.
In the last few years, the were re-shaped to their original glory and give a great idea what courtly life must have been like in Baroque days. The interiors were sensitively restored, too: Picture frames and tables were freshly gilded, marble exchanged or cleaned and the frescos in the cupola of the Große Saal (Main Hall) was renovated.
Continue with "Marchfeld & Danube - Part II"