Waidhofen an der Ybbs, © Niederösterreich-Werbung/Martin Matula

Medieval meets modern: Waidhofen an der Ybbs

There is plenty to discover on the way to Waidhofen. Special highlights include the architectural witnesses of the city's fortified history, a magnificent concert hall with impressive acoustics and the rich range of cultural offerings, which will tempt you to return.

In Rothschild’s footsteps

Our first destination is the impressive, Neo Gothic Schloss Rothschild [Rothschild Castle], with a striking glass cube atop the castle’s tower. The star architect Hans Hollein also designed the spectacular crystal room, which is an ideal venue for weddings, public events and concerts thanks to its perfect acoustics. The castle hosts a programme of cultural events throughout the year. Every summer, the picturesque inner courtyard with arcades is the venue for the castle courtyard plays performed by Waidhofner Volksbühne theatre group and the Schlosshofkino castle cinema attracts film lovers to enjoy classic cinema under the stars. At Christmas, the courtyard is the idyllic setting for the ‘Flammenden Lichterweihnacht’, which is a candlelit event with Christmas stalls. In addition to the Schlosswirt, a gourmet restaurant with an excellent wine menu, the Rothschild Castle is also the location for the 5 Element Museum – an interactive treat for all ages!

The city of seven towers

As early as 1400, a weir system was set up around the flourishing city of Waidhofen. It’s no wonder that we book onto a guided tour to find out more exciting details. Evidence of Waidhofen's turbulent past can be seen on a stroll through the city. The Virgin Mary statue, the Woman of the Apocalypse, who is enthroned high above a marble pillar, erected in 1665 is a real eye-catcher at the upper city square. The first city tower can be admired opposite the sculpture. The time on the clock face on the north-western side of the tower is permanently set to 11.45 to commemorate the hour of the historic victory over the siege of the city by Turkish fighters in 1532. The fantastic view from the top of the tower over the old rooftops of the city stays with you for a long time. Four church and three city towers still form part of the late medieval cityscape today. Having built up an appetite from our ascent to the top of the tower, we then wander across to Bio-Konditorei Hartner [Hartner organic patisserie] for a bite to eat. The wonderfully fruity Kardinalschnitten [Cardinal slices] are sublime and the nougat-filled ‘Waidhofner Stadttaler’ chocolates are the perfect souvenir. Locals and holidaymakers staying longer also look forward to trying the delicacies from the weekly Waidhofen market, which has been a lively meeting place since the 1200s.

Folklore to pastries

There is a house in the lower city square we go to for several reasons: The Volkskundemuseum [Folk Museum] is located on the first floor and the ground floor is home to a bakery and bread maker's run by the Piaty family. The best cream cakes and arguably the best ice-cream in the city is served here, which is designed to look like a typical Viennese coffee house. Fans of the multi-layered Esterhazyschnitte cream cake will find themselves in heaven in the patisserie Konditorei Erb, which is not far from the old post office. There are many shops to discover in the arcades of the old post office building. Our tip: Take your time and go to the first floor of the inner courtyard. If you prefer a longer wander, we strongly recommend the dresses from Freiwild by designer Christa Doris Steinauer, who has made a name for herself with her extravagant dirndls. The well-stocked household supply shop Brandl and the paper specialist shop Kappus, which is a genuine Waidhofen institution with its creaking wooden floor and floor-to-ceiling shelves packed with goods, are both worth a visit.

Unspoilt nature awaits you around Waidhofen

The last detour takes us to a tower once again. We stroll along the elegant surroundings of the idyllic pedestrian zone in Waidhofen, which is the venue for the market selling regional produce every Saturday morning. We reluctantly leave the delicacies behind and continue towards the city centre, via the Ybbsturm [Ybbs Gate], which is currently being renovated. As it spans the street, we can easily walk through it. Just a short distance from the city centre, we find ourselves surrounded by nature along the banks of the Ybbs. We plan on starting a nice walk from here along the river tomorrow and then visiting the Adventure Park Buchenberg. For now, we want to save our energy and choose to stop for a bite to eat at the family-run Hotel Mooshamer, where we can relax at the end of the day.