The Weinviertel is a plateau (200-400m/650-1,300ft high), partly forest covered, lying to the north of Vienna between the Danube and the Czech frontier. It extends to the east of the Waldviertel, from which it is separated by the long ridge of the Manhartsberg. Isolated ranges of hills rise to heights of some 500m/1,600ft (Leiser Berge, 492m/1,615ft), dividing the area into an eastern and western half. The population is relatively dense. The broad valleys are flanked by fertile hillsides, as well as large fields of sugar beet and wheat. On the eastern fringe of the Weinviertel lie the Zisterdorf and Matzen oilfields.
15km/9mi northwest of Vienna, on the left bank of the Danube, lies Korneuburg (167m/548ft; pop. 8,500), the gateway to the western Weinviertel, It has a shipyard which has become the biggest in Austria. In the Hauptplatz (square), where a market is held twice a week, there are Late Gothic burghers' houses. The large Stadtturm (town tower) dates from 1447. The imposing Augustinerkirche (mid 18th C.) has a fine Roccoco high altar.Korneuburg is, a pretty old town which preserves part of its circuit of walls. The town's last great fortifications were built during the Hussite attacks in the 15th C.
3km/2mi to the south of Korneuburg rises the Bisamberg (360m/1,181ft), with a fine view from the Elisabethhöhe (restaurant).By boat, on the left of the Danube river rises the Bisamberg, and opposite it, on the bank of the river, the Leopoldsberg, with a twin-towered church built about 1100 on the site of the castle of Leopold the Saint, which was known as the "Cradle of Austria". Soon afterwards the boat comes in sight of Vienna, the capital city of both the old and the new Austria, with a variety of sights which will leave a lasting impression.
6km/4mi to the northwest of Korneuburg looms the dominating Burg Kreuzenstein (266m/873ft), rebuilt between 1874-1915 on the model of the medieval castle which was destroyed by the Swedes in 1645. Both externally and internally it gives a good impression of a knightly stronghold of the early 16th C. (many art treasures).
The town of Hollabrunn (227m/745ft; pop. 10,000), some 20km/12.5mi north of Stockerau, is the administrative headquarters of the western Weinviertel. The Plague Column is dated 1723. It is worth visiting the Local Museum known as "Alte Hofmühle", housed in an old fort. A collection of modern sculptures documents mankind in our own time; there is also a display of religious art from the Weinviertel. In mid-August each year the "Weinlandmesse" fair is held, which is also a Hollabrunn folk festival.
Church of Maria Geburt
5km/3mi to the north of Hollabrunn lies Schöngrabern (285m/846ft), with the Late Romanesque church (13th C.) of Mariä Geburt (Nativity of the Virgin), with some remarkable reliefs on the outer wall of the apse.
20km/12.5mi northeast of Hollabrunn, Mailberg (217m/712ft) has a castle which belonged to the Knights of Malta (rebuilt 1594-1608; museum); its chapel contains some Late Gothic wooden sculptures. In 1802 Margrave Leopold II lost in battle here against the Bohemians.
20km/12.5mi to the northeast of Vienna, in the valley of the Russbach, lies the old vine growing town of Wolkersdorf (176m/577ft; pop. 5,000), with an imposing moated castle (rebuilt in 18th C.), a Baroque parish church with a Gothic choir, and a Trinity Column. There are a number of paths for walkers. 15km/9.5mi to the east near Matzen is an oil field.
Off the road to Mistelbach, to the east of Wolkersdorf, lies the little spa town of Bad Pirawath (194m/637ft; pop. 12,000), with peat and sulfur baths, acidic and mineral springs.The church contains some beautiful paintings by Martin Altomonte.
Mistelbach (228m/748ft; pop. 10,000) is an old town in the heart of the eastern Weinviertel. The 15th C. parish church, built on high ground, has a massive tower. Adjoining the church is a round Romanesque charnel house (12th C.). In front of the Rathaus stands a Trinity Column, and the little Baroque Schloss now houses a local museum.
Schloss Asparn an der Zaya
7km/4.5mi to the northwest of Mistelbach looms the massive Schloss Asparn an der Zaya, with two towers, housing the Lower Austrian Prehistoric Museum (Museum für Urgeschichte des Landes Niederösterreich); there is also an open-air museum in the castle park. The Minorite convent is open April-October Sat. 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. and Sun. 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
In the northern part of the eastern Weinviertel, 16km/10mi north of Mistelbach, the little town of Poysdorf (205m/673ft; pop. 4,000) nestles in the Poi-Bach valley. High above it stands the Early Baroque parish church (1625-35), with a fine doorway (1635-40) and a Neo-Classical interior. Note also the Vogelsangmühle ("Bird Song Mill", 1589), the Plague Column of 1715.
The Local Museum in Poysdorf is in a former poor house, with a semi-permanent exhibition labeled "Saddlers, Stitchers, Coach-builders".
Laa an der Thaya, Austria
25km/15mi northwest of Mistelbach, on the Czech frontier, lies Laa an der Thaya (186m/610ft; pop. 7,000). Its turbulent history is witnessed by the remains of the medieval walls and a massive moated castle (13th century) with well-preserved battlements and towers (fine panoramic views).In the "Altes Rathaus" will be found the Südmährer local history museum "Thayaland" (open: April-October; information from the local council offices). The Gothic parish church of St Vitus is 13th century, the high altar dates from 1740. The Plague Column (1680), the Trinity Column (1680) and the Raaber Column near the cemetery are all worth seeing.
The old-world little town of Retz, still surrounded by its ancient walls, lies on the slopes of the Retzer Senke (Retz depression) in the northwest of the Weinviertel, near the Czech frontier.
The Retz Hauptplatz is a fine spacious square surrounded by 16th C. burghers' houses. Other notable buildings include the Sgraffitohaus ("Graffiti House"; 1576) decorated with scenes from Greek fables and Biblical themes, while the picturesque crenellations and arched passage of the Verderberhaus (c. 1580) are bound to catch the visitor's eye.
The Retz Dominican Church (1295) is an Early Gothic church which belonged to a mendicant order of monks; it has a three aisled nave, a high vaulted roof and a Baroque interior. There are a number of well-preserved towers on the town wall. Beneath the town lie some 20km/12.5mi of cellars (guided tours).