Between the Waldviertel and Austria's eastern frontier on the rivers March and Thaya stretches the Weinviertel. North of the Danube, between Vienna and the March, stretches the Marchfeld, the largest plain in Lower Austria, which over the last 2,000 years has seen bitter fighting between Romans and Germanic peoples, long continued frontier warfare with Hungarians and Turks and the battles of the Napoleonic wars. The Marchfeld is now the granary of Austria, and the fertile loess soil, constantly exposed though it is to the danger of degenerating into steppe, produces abundant crops of wheat and sugar beet, with areas of pine forest and moorland here and there. In an area of this kind near Gänserdorf is Austria's only safari park.
Hainburg, beautifully situated between two hills on the Danube some 40km/25mi east of Vienna, was in the medieval period a fortified town on the eastern frontier of the Holy Roman Empire. The town lies just short of the border with the former Czechoslovakia. The old settlement which grew at the foot of a castle received its town charter in 1244. In the castle chapel in 1252 the Bohemian King Przemsyl Ottokar married the Duchess Margarethe of Austria. The town was frequently attacked by Turks and Magyars and suffered from the plague. In an attack by the Turks in 1683 more than 8,000 of its inhabitants were killed. It was not until 1724, when the Hainburg Tobacco Factory was founded, that the town began to prosper.Hainburg is surrounded by well-preserved 13th century walls, with 12 towers, which stretch from the castle above down to the Danube. It boasts many handsome burghers' houses of the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque periods.
At the western entrance to the town of Hainburg stands the Wiener Tor, over 20m/65ft high and one of Austria's most important town gates from an artistic viewpoint. The lower section was started in 1244 and is made up of 22 courses of knobbed square stone blocks; it is surmounted by an oriel-shaped pointed roof structure. The two figures on the inside of the gate are popularly known as Etzel (Attila) and Kriemhilde who, according to the "Nibelungenlied", spent a night here. The Wiener Tor houses a Heimatmuseum (local museum), displaying guild banners, Roman finds, a prehistoric seated-burial grave, etc. Next door is a branch of the Austrian Tobacco Museum.
On the eastern side of the town of Hainburg towers the massive 13th C. Ungartor (Hungarian Gate), with remains of the old defensive outworks still to be seen.
Hainburg's parish church (Stadtpfarrkirche) in the main square is dedicated to SS Philip and Jacob. In 1714 the former St Catherine's Chapel was rebuilt in this church and the town center moved from the village green to the Hauptplatz (main square).
In the Hainburg Hauptplatz stands a fountain commemorating the composer Haydn, who went to school here in 1737-40.
A most striking edifice in the Hainburg Hauptplatz is the Mariensäule (column with figure of the Virgin Mary: 1749), one of the most beautiful Roccoco columns in Austria. The graceful "lantern of the dead" outside the charnel-house dates from the 15th C.
Heimoburg on the Schlossberg Ruins
Looming over the town of Hainburg are the ruins of a massive 11th century castle, the Heimoburg on the Schlossberg. In its courtyard can be seen remains of the domestic quarters, the palas and a chapel. Theatrical performances are held in the courtyard in summer.
To the southeast of Hainburg rises the Hundesheimer Berg (467m/1,562ft), a nature reserve with a large limestone fault.
Castle and Hunting Museum, Marchegg, Austria
Prince Eugene of Savoy, victor over the Turks, built his splendid hunting lodges around Hainburg, at the eastern end of the Marchfeld, and his example was followed by many other great nobles. One such mansion, Schloss Marchegg, now houses the large Lower Austrian Hunting Museum, a branch of the Lower Austrian Provincial Museum in Vienna; the museum also has a library and an open air exhibition.