The Innviertel is an upland region of fertile and well-cultivated land lying to the south of a line from Passau to Linz, bounded on the north by the Danube, on the west by the rivers Inn and Salzach, and on the south by the Hausruckwald. The area is studded with small villages and hamlets, farms and churches, in a style reminiscent of Bavaria; and in fact the Innviertel formed part of Bavaria until 1779 and again from 1809 to 1814. In addition to cattle rearing the region is noted for its fruit growing. Politically the Innviertel (officially Innkreis) is divided into the districts of Branau, Ried and Schärding.
Ried im Innkreis, Austria
Ried im Innkreis (450m/1,476ft; pop. 11,000), the centrally situated chief place of the Innviertel, is a busy little industrial, commercial and market town with an agricultural fair. At Schwanthalergasse 11 stands a house which once belonged to the well known 17th C. family of sculptors, the Schwanthalers, who were responsible for the two altars in the parish church. In the folk art museum in Kirchenplatz will be found an exhibition of the town's history, costumes, a collection of talismanic medals, Baroque sculptures, devotional pictures, etc. 6km/4mi north of Ried lies Aurolzmünster (402m/1,318ft) with a castle built by Zuccali in 1691- 1711.
Obernberg am Inn, Austria
Obernberg am Inn (365m/1,198ft; pop. 1,800) lies on the Inn (here dammed) 15km/9mi northwest of Ried. The quiet market place, with a number of gabled houses with fine fronts, such as the Apothekerhaus (Apothecary's House) in the main square, recalls the time when the little town was a staging point for the salt trade on the river. A local museum housed in a town gate documents the history of shipping on the Inn.
Scärding (317m/1,040ft; pop. 6,000), situated high above the Inn 17km/10.5mi south of Passau, has remains of its old town walls, gates and towers. In the former castle gateway (1583) there is now a municipal museum, and the castle grounds are now a park. The banks of the Inn are approached through the picturesque Wassertor (Water Gate; note the high water marks). The straggling town square is lined with the facades of Baroque buildings; particularly impressive is the "Silberzeile". The Roman Catholic parish church, originally Gothic, was remodeled in Baroque 1720-27; note the figures of saints on the columns of the crossing.
In the southern part of the Hausruckwald (Göbelsberg, 800m/2,625ft) lies Frankenburg (515m/1,690ft; pop. 4,200). The "Frankenburger Würfelspiele", performed every two years in an open air theater, recall episodes from the peasant wars of 1625-26, when - during the seige of Schloss Frankenburg - men taken prisoner had to throw dice to decide who should die. The parish church is 15th C.
A little to the east of Frankenburg the village of Ampflwang (560m/1,837ft; pop. 4,000), well known for riding (races, coach drives, etc.) is becoming an increasingly popular resort.
In the southwest of the Innviertel, 5km/3mi southeast of Moosdorf, the massive Benedictine Michaelbeuern Abbey dominates the village of the same name. The abbey has a history going back more than a thousand years; the church, originally a Romanesque basilica, has a famous high altar (17th C.), with sculptures by Meinrad Guggenbichler of Mondsee. The abbey library owns the "Walther Bible", a valuable Romanesque edition.
Irrsdorf (540m/1,772ft), a village belonging to the Strasswalchen district, is located south of the Hausruckwald, some 10km/6mi north of the Mondsee. The Gothic pilgrimage church was extensively renewed about 1400; its two fine carved doors (1408) are among the best known examples of the so-called "smooth style" of about 1400; they show the meeting of Mary and Elisabeth. The church fittings include three carved altars (statues by Meinrad Guggenbichler), pulpit, and Madonna and Child on the high altar. The Gothic frescos are noteworthy.
Bee Museum, Grieskirchen, Austria
The charming town of Grieskirchen, near Aistersheim, has a Bee Museum with information on hives, honey and history.