Zwettl Tourist Attractions
Zwettl, the administrative and communications hub of the western Waldviertel, lies at the junction of the Zwettlbach with the River Kamp. This attractive old town is particularly well known for its nearby Cistercian abbey, founded by the Count of Kuenringen in 1138, when the town first appears in the records.
Considerable stretches of the old town walls and several defensive towers have been preserved. The straggling Stadtplatz is lined with 16th and 17th C. burghers' houses with fine fronts, and the Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus; built 1307, frequently altered in later centuries and well restored in 1978), with 15th C. frescos on the exterior and a Plague Column of 1727. At the southeast end of the square stands the parish church of the Assumption, basically a three aisled Late Romanesque basilica (13th C.) with a Gothic choir, octagonal east tower and a west tower.
Propsteikirche of St John the Evangelist
Standing on raised ground, the Propsteikirche of St John the Evangelist was built in the 12th C. as the family church of the Counts Kuenringen; with its churchyard, the round 13th C. charnel house and the Romanesque St Michael's Chapel (frescos) it forms a handsome group.
At Landstrasse 65 in Zwettl stands the Antonturm, a 13th C. tower on the old town walls, now housing the Anton-Museum, a small private museum containing old implements and utensils, weapons and pictures (admission on request). The Late Gothic St Martin's Church was originally the church of a hospice just outside the town.
Zwettl Abbey contains some notable Romanesque buildings, as well a fine Gothic choir.
To the east of Zwettl lies the Ottenstein reservoir (restaurant; boat hire), a lake 12km/7.5mi long formed by the damming of the River Kamp.
Farther to the east of the Ottenstein Resevoir, picturesquely situated on a granite crag above the confluence of the Grosser Kamp and the Kleiner Kamp rivers, stands Burg Ottenstein, with a 12th C. keep and other buildings which were added in the 16th and 17th C. (restaurant).
To the south of the Ottenstein reservoir lake lie the villages of Friedersbach (Gothic church with 15th C. stained glass in the choir) and Rastenfeld (13th C. parish church).
Above the Ottenstein reservoir lake, on a peninsula, lie the ruins of Burg Lichtenfels.
To the west of Zwettl (3km/2mi along the road to Weitra, then turn left), on a hill (620m/2,035ft), stands the village of Schloss Rosenau (Schlosshotel). The castle, well restored and renovated in 1966-1971, dates in its present form from 1730-1748, when it was rebuilt in Roccoco style by Daniel Gran and others. It contains an interesting Museum of Freemasonry.
Rosenau - Austrian Freemasonry Museum
To the southwest of Zwettl, on a wooded crag above the Kleiner Kamp, stands Burg Rappottenstein. Of the original 12th C. castle there remain the keep and the five sided tower at the south end. The imposing complex of buildings is laid out around five courtyards. In the first courtyard is a small house (1548-1549); in the innermost are a two story Renaissance loggia; windows with sgraffito painting, a Late Gothic Squires' Hall and a smoke-blackened kitchen. The two story chapel (1378) in the keep has 16th C. wall paintings.
Zwettl Cisterian Abbey - Organ Festival
Events for this annual festival are held during the six weekends between mid-June and late August. There are usually six concerts, one held each weekend. The concerts include performances by grand symphonies as well as smaller choral and chamber orchestras. The events are held in the Zwettle Abbey and the Ottenschlag Parish Church.