Schwechat: The "Vienna Airport Town"
Schwechat is a town in Lower Austria primarily known for three things: Firstly, for Vienna Airport, which is in fact not in Vienna itself, but in this very town. Secondly, for Schwechater beer, a locally produced mainstream lager that is popular throughout Austria. Thirdly, for the biggest refinery of Austria, which is clearly visible from the motorway that links Schwechat with Vienna.
Schwechat is situated just south-east of the capital and is a major traffic and transportation hub. It has a population of about 16,000 and is functionally merged with Vienna′s 11th district Simmering. Schwechat has a well-deserved reputation for being a commercial and industrial place (are you British? If so, picture Schwechat to be the Slough of Austria).
However, it also has some very rural corners and a historic village center. Note the vicinity of the Nationalpark Donauauen, of which Schwechat has a share. Due to the commercial nature of Schwechat, the tax revenue of the municipality is relatively high, making Schwechat one of the wealthiest communities in Austria in terms of tax income per capita.
Some History of Schwechat
Historically, the area around Schwechat has been populated since Neolithic times. The Romans maintained a minor army base here and later Bavarians and various Slavonic people used today′s Schwechat as a trading post.
In 1334, Schwechat was first recorded as a market town and prospered most of the time ever since - with the usual interruptions of that region, namely bubonic plague, Turks, various Nomadic peoples looting and Turks again. In the 19th century, Schwechat became economically important mainly due to rapid industrialization (at least by Habsburg Empire standards) and the flourishing brewery.
In 1938, the airport was founded. The Nazis incorporated Schwechat into Vienna and during WWII, a major difference between Schwechat and Slough occurred: In the case of Schwechat, the bombs did actually come, even though they failed in giving a particularly sweet impression. Much of the town was destroyed and most of what was left in terms of production facilities was dismantled in the years of Soviet occupation.
Schechat Recently & Today
Only in 1954 Schwechat was ceded from Vienna and became an independent municipality again (against the will of most residents, by the way). In the Wirtschaftswunder Austria, Schwechat became a center of economic efforts once again. Cargo railway stations, the airport and the motorway were key for this development.
Today, tourists come to Schwechat primarily because of the airport. Few people stay in the town itself. Those who do might be positively surprised by unexpected attractions such as the Kellerberg, a traditional wine cellar lane where a nice array of traditional inns can be found. There is good access to the National Park Donauauen (bring some sort of mosquito-repellant). There is a chateaux in the Rannersdorf part of Schwechat, which hosts a theatre festival dedicated to Johann Nepomuk Nestroy (a 19th century Viennese playwright) every year in June. More cultural life can be found in the Theaterforum Schwechat, a local theatre.