The “Little Rose Garden” of the Wachau Valley

My travel adventures have taken me throughout the United States and every continent. I have fond memories of the terracotta soldiers in China, huge tortoises in the Galápagos, Uluru in Australia, penguins in Antarctica, going inside the Great Pyramid in Egypt, walking around Stonehenge in England, and many more! But I must say that the Wachau Valley in Austria with the Danube River flowing through it is certainly the most beautiful location I have ever visited.

Yesterday, I journeyed to the heart of the Wachau Valley, reminiscent of complicated journeys of the past by tour boat, car ferry, hiking, and bus. The journey itself took plenty of time, particularly when I found myself on the wrong side of the Danube (thus the need for the ferry)! But my digression leads me to the heart of this blog when I visited Burgruine Aggstein, the castle ruin high atop a mountain overlooking the river. There is a fantastic aerial view of the castle by going to this link.

There is a medieval event at the ruins at the moment. People are arriving in costumes and there are tents where people are selling food, drink, medieval-looking toys, jewelry and many other things. My goal was to tour the castle, which I accomplished. However, I also ate a hearty meal of roasted ham, grilled cabbage, and a dough ball that contained I know not what except for the horseradish that lingered through the night!

It is believed that the castle was constructed in the 12th century on a natural rock formation. It is located approximately 300 meters above the river and has excellent views of the river in either direction. The strategic value was to excise bounty from the merchants as they moved their goods past this point by boat. For example, the castle dungeon held many until a handsome ransom would be paid! You can learn more about Aggstein by clicking this link.

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Aggstein Chapel
The castle contains interesting places such as a blacksmith shop, bakery, chapel, etc…but the title of this blog is about the “little rose garden” of owner Jorg Scheck who acquired the castle in 1429. He was a very brutal person. He is someone you just didn’t want to mess with as those he determined he didn’t care for soon found themselves on a rocky outcrop high on the mountain. It is about 1 -2 meters by 7-10 meters. Prisoners had a choice from this perch. They could starve as they were exposed to the elements or they could jump to their death from this steep cliff. Scheck was a cynical person and referred to this outcrop as his “little rose garden.”

The "little rose garden" with a prisoner contemplating his fate
The “little rose garden” with a prisoner contemplating his fate

Rose Garden Entrance
Rose Garden Entrance
I have included a photo leading to the rose garden through the thick castle wall. Note the carved out steps worn smooth over the centuries. And also pictured is the rose garden itself.

Many visit the Wachau Valley but river cruises may not stop at a place convenient to visit Burgruine Aggstein. This is really too bad. If you come to the area, this is one place to not miss.

Inside Aggstein
Inside Aggstein

The Architecture is About the Lines

Hello, Friends.

The past few days as I roamed through parts of the Wachau Trail in Austria, I came to realize that I am taken not only by the beauty of the buildings and ruins but also by their simplicity and unique architectural lines. As I see these buildings with lines that are not straight, have bulges, and often lack symmetry, I understand that I am finding them to be very beautiful. I look at the craftmanship that has gone into the buildings and see works of art.

imageFor example, today I enclose two photos taken in Durnstein and Krems. One is of a Krems house that was built in 1210 and the other is ruins from the Durnstein Castle built in the twelfth century. IMG_0248Notice the lack of symmetry in the house and imagine the castle ruins taking structural shape based on the rocks high in the mountain overlooking the Danube River.

Of course there are architecture representations where engineers of the day constructed buildings that have almost perfect lines, like the Steiner Tor built in the fifteenth century. This photograph isn’t mine as I just can’t seem to capture it well. But it is beautiful at the western entrance to old Krems.

IMG_0271There are numerous statues in Krems many IMG_0181of which are depictions of religious figures. One that I have not yet learned about was constructed in 1682. It appears to me to be an old knight, possibly from the crusades. Crusaders traveled this way.

Signs of Spring are everywhere now! The apricot trees are in bloom and soon the millions of grape vines will be growing again on the Wachau Valley slopes on both sides of the Danube River. Both apricots and wine are specialty products in this area and I am looking forward to enjoying them throughout the Spring and Summer.

One last photo for today is taken from the castle ruins in Durnstein. King Richard I of England was imprisoned here in 1191 on returning from the crusades. The castle overlooks the river valley below, the town of Durnstein, and the numerous vineyards. The Wachau Valley is a very beautiful place!

All for now!

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