11/28/13   Wachau Valley, Austria

Today we cruised down the Danube through the Wachau Valley of Austria.  Our first stop was in the city of Melk and a visit to the historic Melk Abbey, located on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Danube river.   The remains of several members of the House of Babenberg, Austria's first ruling dynasty are kept in the abbey crypt.
201311_28 01 Melk02

201311_28 02 Melk Benedictine Abbey (Austria) (2)02

Further down the river, we passed by the Schonbuhel Castle.   A Roman fortress may have stood there before. The castle was begun in the early 12th century as a defensive fortress.
201311_28 03 Schonbuhel Castle on the Danube river, Wachau Valley, Austria

As we passed by the scenic town of Spitz, we could see the terraced hills behind the town where grapes are grown for wine in the summer.
201311_28 04 Spitz, Austria-Wachau Valley-Danube River

The Hinderhaus Castle overlooks the Austrian scenic village of Spitz.
201311_28 04b Hinderhaus Castle overlooks the Austrian village of Spitz

Near the vine growing village Weißenkirchen is the fortified church of St Michael.   The original church dates back to the 10th century and it was fortified in the 15th century by adding a defense tower and battlements making this the oldest parish church of the whole Danube River valley.
201311_28 05 Fortified church of St Michael-Weissenkirchen, Austria, Wachau valley

In the village of Weißenkirchen (Weissenkirchen) is also a picturesque 15th century Gothic church.
201311_28 06 Weissenkirche, Austria-15th century Gothic church (2)

On the top of the hill overlooking Dürnstein is an old castle, where King Richard the Lion-Hearted was held captive from Christmas 1192 until 1194 AD by by Leopold V, Duke of Austria and held for ransom.   After successfully leading the third Crusade and returning back to England, King Richard’s ship was wrecked at sea and he was forced to travel a land route through central Europe, disguised as a Knight Templar.   Near Vienna, he was recognized and arrested by Duke Leopold V.
201311_28 08 Dürnstein,Austria-Old castle on hill where Richard Lion-Hearted was held captive-1192-1194 AD


Wachau Valley