September 9: Wienerschnitzel Day

Wiener Schnitzel is a delicious treat that is much beloved in Austria and other countries in that region. It is one of the premier examples of Viennese cuisine and was a classic of many a native’s childhood diet. Wiener Schnitzel Day celebrates this treat, its culture and its history. Basically a breaded cutlet that is deep-fried in oil, Wiener Schnitzel is traditionally made from veal, but also can be made from pork. In Australia, it might even be found made out of chicken or beef. This dish is actually named…

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Wildschönauer Krautinger: Austria’s Turnip Schnapps

The union of Alpbach and the Wildschönau, an Austrian community in the Kufstein district of Tyrol, has created one of Austria’s prettiest and friendliest ski areas. Relatively low-cost, Ski Juwel is a place to target if you don’t like touristic places of the big-name resorts. But this isn’t the only feature of the area. In Wildschönau Valley locals have been distilling a strong turnip liquor called Wildschönauer Krautinger as far back as the 1700s, when Habsburg empress Maria Theresa granted 51 area farmers the exclusive distillery rights. And about 15/16…

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Döllersheim: the austrian village that Hitler destroyed to crush a rumor

About one hundred km northwest of Vienna, in northern Austria, lies a small village called Döllersheim that, eighty years ago, was literally wiped off the map by a certain German dictator with a short moustache in an attempt to erase the disreputable origins of his family. The village was first mentioned in an 1143 deed issued by Duke Henry XI of Bavaria, whereby one Chunradus (Conrad) of Tolersheim appeared as a witness. Due its location near the Austrian border with Bohemia the nearby market town held by the Lords of…

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Erdstalls Tunnels: Central Europe’s last great mystery

Across Europe, there are hundreds of underground tunnels that, apparently, lead to nowhere and about which any historic records have ever been found. They are mostly located in the southern German state of Bavaria and the nearby Austria, where they are known by the German name “Erdstall”, which literally means “place under the earth”. Locally, they are also called by various names such as “Schrazelloch”, or “goblin hole”, but also “Alraunenhöhle”, meaning “mandrake cave”, which reflects the various theories and legends associated with the mysterious tunnels. Some believed that they…

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Alps: nightmare creatures of German folklore

Alps are creatures that appear in nightmares in the middle of the night. This mythical creature would appear in the dreams of men and women but prefers to disturb women more. It is defined by the Althochdeutsches Wörterbuch as a “nature-god or nature-demon, equated with the Fauns of Classical mythology…regarded as eerie, ferocious beings…As the mare he messes around with women”. They could manipulate dreams to their liking and would create horrible nightmares, and this is probably why “Alptraum” is the word for nightmare in German which if translated literally…

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From baker to millionaire: the story of a man with a remarkable sense of entrepreneurship buried in Wiener Zentralfriedhof

Located in the outer city district of Simmering, Wiener Zentralfriedhof, or Vienna Central Cemetery, is one of the largest cemeteries in the world by number of interred, and is the most popular among Vienna’s nearly 50 cemeteries. It was opened on All Saints’ Day in 1874, far outside city’s borders. The first burial was that of Jacob Zelzer, that still exists near the administration building at the cemetery wall, followed by 15 others that day. The cemetery spans 2.5 km2 with 330,000 interments and up to 25 burials daily. It…

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Is Saint Corona the patron saint of epidemics?

Did you know Aachen Cathedral, Western Germany, may be able to claim a special spiritual connection with the global coronavirus pandemic? It is said that the cathedral, one of Europe’s oldest, house the relics of Saint Corona herself. What’s more, Saint Corona is believed to be the patron saint of protection against plague. Ironically, locals had begun renewing its focus on Saint Corona more than a year ago, well before the novel virus had spread as a public health threat and, originally, Aachen Cathedral had planned to put the saint’s…

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Burgruine Gösting: the castle ruins over Graz – Austria

Sitting in a valley surrounded by rugged hills, Graz is the second largest city in Austria and has historically been an important point of passage between Western and Eastern Europe. In medieval times, the hills around the city were fortified with watch towers and castles for defensive purposes. Few of these fortifications remain today, but one of the highest peaks still boasts the eerie ruins of one Gösting Castle, as a relic of the Holy Roman Empire. Due to its good strategic location, the castle controlled the narrow Mura valley…

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Pyramidenkogel: the world’s tallest wooden observation tower.

In Carinthia, Austria, there is a mountain called Pyramidenkogel, reaching 851 metre above sea level. That’s not very tall compared to the real Alps, only about a quarter the size, but add the world’s tallest wooden tower to the top, and now you’ve got yourself a breathtaking view: from the Hohe Tauern in the north, to the picturesque lake valleys, to the neighbouring countries of Italy and Slovenia in the south. In German the mountain is called Pyramidenkogel, but in nearby Slovenia, a short 20 kilometers to the south, its…

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Friedhof Der Namenlosen – Cemetery of the Nameless: a hidden gem for Danube’s victims

We are in Vienna. Many tourists who come to the Austrian capital visit the Zentralfriedhof, the Central Cemetery, which is the city’s largest and most popular cemetery, the final home of personalities such as Ludwig Van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Franz Schubert, Johan Strauss but also more modern celebrities like pop star Falco. However, among the 55 cemeteries in Vienna, one of the most touching and quaint is probably the Friedhof Der Namenlosen, the Cemetery of the Nameless. Suicide victims who turned away from a Catholic burial, bodies with no names…

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Stephansdom Crypt – Vienna

In Vienna city center, the dark and imposing St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephansdom in German) draws thousands of tourists to gaze at its imposing architecture. It is arguably Vienna’s No. 1 attraction all round, certainly a marvel of gothic architecture, and it’s truly ancient: work began in the 12th century and the present structure was completed in 1511 (even though the north tower was never finished) and, in addition, It is Austria’s largest and most significant religious building. However, there is something to be seen below as well: just beneath the…

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7# The Dark Side of Christmas: Krampus, Santa’s horned helper!

In ancient times, a dark, hairy, horned beast was said to show up at the door to kidnap children. The Krampus could be heard in the night by the sound of his echoing cloven hooves and his rattling iron chains. All interesting….but the strangest part is that he is, like Santa Claus, part of Christmas! However, this beast was no a demon. He was the mythical Krampus, companion to Saint Nicholas (known as Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, etc.). While Saint Nicholas has the reputation of loving all children…

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Wolf and Cow playing Backgammon: a curious viennese mural~

This is a crazy medieval mural preserved on the side of a Viennese house. In the 15th century, Enea Silvio Bartolomeo Piccolomini, better known later in life with the name of Pope Pius II, described all the nice houses of Vienna as being painted inside and out with fabulous scenery. As says the marginalia found in illuminated manuscripts, the houses would have featured religious and historic portraiture, but also some humorous imagery. Moreover, a 15th century description of Vienna claims that all of the burghers’ houses were adorned with splendid…

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Mauthausen concentration camp and the Stairs of Death.

The Mauthausen concentration camp, located about 20 kilometers east of the city of Linz in Upper Austria, was one of the largest labor camp in the German-controlled part of Europe, and between 1938 and 1945 had a central camp near the village of Mauthausen, and nearly one hundred other subcamps located throughout Austria (and southern Germany). It had the most brutal detention conditions, and was classified “Grade III”, where the most political enemies of the Reich were sent to be exterminated, often after a terrible forced labor. The SS called…

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Waldviertel Pyramid, an austrian pyramid of unknown origin.

Lost in the forest between Zwettl and Gross-Gerungs, there is a pyramid high approximately 7 meter. The pyramid is made of loosely stacked natural stones, in a circular layer style with 14 meters of diameter, like a wedding cake overly big. It is the only known structure like this found in Europe. This pyramid is all a mistery…because its origin and its age are totally unknown. Some people believe it to be a ancient Germanic monument, but this is very unlikely because there aren’t archeological evidence of a known prehistoric…

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Hallstatt Beinhaus, an Austrian house of bones filled with hundreds of painted skulls.

The town of Hallstatt it’s the typical Austrian town, located on a beautiful forested mountain, next to a beautiful blue lake, with nice houses dated back 19th-century. All nice, but the room filled with skulls it’s definitely creepy. Behind the Hallstatt’s Catholic parish Church, near the 12th-century St.Micheal’s Chapel, in a small and lovely cared cemetery there is the Hallstatt Beinhaus (or Charnel House). A small chapel has been filled with over 1,200 skulls. Skull painting was carried out especially during the 19th century and belonged to a cultural area…

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The Austrian Grüner See, the lake that fills up only 4 months a year.

This time i want speak about the Grüner See (in english Green Lake), a lake in Styria, Austria in a village named Tragöß, surrounded by the snow-capped Hochschwab Mountains and forests. The emerald green waters of this mountain lake offer the chances to do some of Austria’s most unusual dives, in this nation not particularly famous for scuba diving. But apart from that, something unique happens in this lake. You can find fish swimming among the benches and the branches of the trees, or small crustaceans sheltered among the blades…

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