Wachau is one of the most beautiful valleys of the Danube River, the valley where nature meets history known for its high-quality white wines, apricots, picturesque landscapes and medieval villages. The valley is located just 80 kilometres west of the capital Vienna, and it is well-connected with the rest of the country. The main western railway and motorway A1 that connect Vienna with Salzburg passes either directly or next to the valley. Due to a combination of beautiful landscapes and rich history, the Wachau Valley was included in the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites in the year 2000.
The Wachau is probably the most prominent tourist destination in Lower Austria. It is 40-kilometre long valley that includes the river landscapes and villages, between the towns of Melk and Krems on the Danube. The landscape is characterised on the one hand by the beautiful blue Danube and the low hills with a mild climate, and on the other by the high hills (up to 1000 m) with its harsh winters. The warm weather of the valley and a lot of sunny days led to the cultivation of apricots and grapes and production of high-quality wines and liquors. The wine specialities of the region include the Riesling, Grüner Veltliner and Neuburger. You can taste the wines in numerous wine taverns, mostly owned by the winemakers who offer the home-made wine and simple dishes. The grapes for the wine production are grown at the terraced vineyards, which together with numerous apricot orchards embellish the surrounding. More information about wine growing culture of Wachau and its quality wines you can find in the text "The valley of top white wines" and about apricot growing culture in a text "The orange gold of Wachau".
The Wachau Valley has been inhabited since the Palaeolithic, since the time of the immigration of Homo sapiens to Europe. Therefore, it is very famous in the archaeological circles for its sites from the Stone Age. If you are interested in the most famous findings in the valley, you can check the text "A paradise for archaeologists".
Two oldest Austrian works of art, the figurative depictions of women Venus of Galgenberg, which is also the world's earliest stone representation of a human being and the Venus of Willendorf, the best preserved and the most known piece of art from the Old Stone Age, were found here, as well as the only toddler grave of early Homo sapiens so-called Ice Age Babies.
The other important highlight of the valley is a landscape of beautiful villages with perfectly preserved medieval architecture, castles and abbeys. All these sights can be seen and visited by the steamer boats, and a lot of tourists use this opportunity. The best season to visit the Wachau is spring and summer time, when everything flourishes.
Wachau has always been an important spot on the European map. Numerous historical towns and villages are located here. Melk and Krems are the biggest ones. There is also Dürnstein, with a beautiful blue church and the Castle where Richard the Lionheart was held a prisoner, and Weißenkirchen, rich in old homestead buildings. Spitz and Stein, the small villages with the medieval cobbled streets, with inns and cafes and the romantic views of the Danube valley, surrounded by the vineyards are worth mentioning and visiting.
There are over 5000 historical monuments in the Wachau, and the most important are the Benedictine abbeys in Melk and Göttweig, the Schallaburg and Dürnstein Castle and the Burgruine Aggstein home of the notorious Danube pirates.
There are numerous reasons to visit Wachau, so do not hesitate to catch the first train, bus, steamer boat, get on a bike and enjoy this valley where nature meets history.
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