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Austria Danube River Cruise
of Scenic & Historic Sights


Vienna, Melk, Durnstein, Mondsee, & Salzburg

Cathedrals, Churches, Abbeys, Castles, & Palaces

Danube River, Gardens, Music, & Mozart

Globus, Avalon Waterways, & Tapestry

St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna.

St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna.

Tours

We use the best tour operators to book all kinds of tours to Austria including independent tours, escorted tours, and packages. Contact us to book your travel. We book travel worldwide. Check out our Special Promotions.

River cruise Budapest to Prague

The river cruise on the Avalon Waterways Tapestry began in Budapest, where we spent two nights. For a stretch of 58 miles (93 kilometers) west the Danube River was the dividing line between Hungary to the south and Slovakia to the north. Next we cruised through Austria, which is described here, then into Germany with the seven-night cruise ending in Nuremberg. We were then taken by motor coach to Prague where we spent two nights. For a description of the ship and onboard activities see the Avalon Waterways Ships. Contact Us for more information.

Nave in St. Stephen's thedral.

Nave in St. Stephen's Cathedral.

Vienna

Vienna is one of the great cities of Europe. It is on the Danube Canal. Its history includes being controlled by the Romans for about three centuries. They established a military presence in Vienna beginning in about 100 AD. For a longer period of 640 years Vienna was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire beginning in 1273, and controlled by the Hapsburg dynasty.

When you think of Vienna you think of music. In fact, many great composers called Vienna home during part of their lives. Included are Beethoven, Brahms, Bruckner, Haydn, Mahler, Mozart, Schubert, and Strauss. On our first evening in Vienna we were taken to a wonderful concert of orchestra and song featuring Strauss waltzes as well as other music. It was a great evening.

In the Nave in St. Stephen's Cathedral.

In the Nave in St. Stephen's Cathedral.

Vienna has a lot to offer. Places to visit, for example, include St. Steven's Cathedral (Stephansdom), which is pictured above and below and is not to be missed (described below). If you like palaces go to the Schoenbrunn Palace, which is magnificent with a very large building and beautiful grounds (described with pictures below). If you go to the Belevedere Palace you will find two palaces and a collection of paintings by Austrian artists. Museums to consider are the Museum of Fine Arts (Kunsthistorisches Museum) and the Albertina Museum. The Museum of Fine Arts has an impressive collection, and is rated as one of the best fine arts museums in the world. The Albertina Museum has a large collection of drawings from the great masters including Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Rembrandt. For music lovers there is the State Opera House (Staatsoper), which is one of the finest opera houses in the world and a popular place for the great opera stars to perform. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart lived for a time in Vienna. You can visit Mozart's House (Mozarthaus), a place where the great composer lived, and learn about his time in Vienna. There is a famous building for famous horses in the Spanish Riding School (Spansiche Reitschule), which you will want to see (described with pictures below). The National Library (Hofbibliothek) contains a large collection of books in an attractive setting. The Imperial Treasury (Schatzkammer) displays relics and objects that are treasures, some quite old. The Imperial Crown is on display. There is much more to see in Vienna, and you can easily spend a week seeing the sights. It is a city to go back to.

The chimes in St. Stephen's Cathedral.

The chimes in St. Stephen's Cathedral.

St. Steven's Cathedral

St. Steven's Cathedral (Stephansdom) is one of the main attractions in Vienna, and is not to be missed. It is a world famous cultural heritage site and monument. St. Stephen's is considered a treasure trove of art history and architecture. This magnificent building was originally built starting in 1144 and finished three years later. The south tower is 450 feet (137 meters) high and was added between 1359 and 1433. You can climb up into the tower to see the surroundings. Unfortunately, the cathedral was badly damaged by fire in the last days of World War II; it was rebuilt in seven years. Inside the building you find the very attractive Nave and impressive chimes, as seen in the pictures above. You can go down into the catacombs. The Tomb of Rudolph IV is found within the cathedral.

There is an absolutely marvelous DVD video that has great views of the inside of St. Steven's. The DVD is of a concert given by Sarah Brightman called Symphony. The cameras continually switch between Sarah Brightman and stunning scenes within the cathedral. The music, with an orchestra, is great too.

Spanish Riding School in Vienna.

Spanish Riding School in Vienna.


Statue in Spanish Riding School.

Statue in Spanish Riding School.

Spanish Riding School

The Spanish Riding School (Spansiche Reitschule) is found in a magnificent building with a dome, as is seen in the picture above. It was built between 1729 and 1735. The riding school continues a tradition that has gone on for four centuries. Sixty-eight stallions are in the Riding School. The show put on by the white lipizzaner horses is very popular. The school in Vienna is closed during some months. Also, the leading horses and riders tour throughout the world. The picture of the fascinating statue shown above was taken at a corner of the building.

Schoenbrunn Palace in Vienna.Palace.

Schoenbrunn Palace in Vienna.


Statues on the grounds of the Schoenbrunn Palace.

Statues on the grounds of the Schoenbrunn Palace.

Schoenbrunn Palace

The Schoenbrunn Palace (Schonbrunn Palace) is located within the city, and it is one of the most popular places to visit in Austria. Both the palace and grounds are very large. The palace dates from 1696, and it is where the Hapsburgs' spent their summers. There are 1,441 rooms in the palace. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart entertained in the palace when he was only a child. Near the palace is a theater and a carriage museum. On the impressive grounds you find gardens, fountains and many statues. Note the pictures above and below. On the west side of the grounds there is a large greenhouse, and not far from that is a zoo. A little further south is the Tiroler House, which has a restaurant.

Grounds of the Schoenbrunn Palace.

Grounds of the Schoenbrunn Palace. On the hill is Gloriette, a pavilion.


Making apple strudel at the Schoenbrunn Palace.

Making apple strudel at the Schoenbrunn Palace.

On the grounds you see displays that were made to look like Roman Ruins. On the hill is Gloriette, a pavilion. It is seen in the picture above. From this lofty place you can view the palace and grounds. There is also a cafe there where you can stop for food and drink. After having time to walk around the grounds we were taken into the palace and given a demonstration on how they make apple strudel. The lovely lady in the picture above was showing us how she does it. We were also able to sample the apple strudel and a drink. It was all refreshing and very good. The excursion to Schoenbrunn Palace was very nice, and we could easily have spent more time there.

Melk Abbey in Melk on the Danube.

Melk Abbey in Melk on the Danube.


Nave in the Abbey church.

Nave in the Abbey church.

Melk Abbey

In Melk is found the absolutely gorgeous Melk Abbey. Pictured above is the front of the abbey, which leads to the entrance. The abbey with its twin towers overlooks the Danube River. It rests on a sight where the Romans once had a fort. It is a Benedictine abbey, and is world famous as a monastery. It dates from 1089 when a castle that had been the residence of Leopold I was given to Benedictine Monks by Leopold II. The present abbey building was built between 1702 and 1736. Walking throughout the abbey you are in awe of its beauty. The nave in the abbey is magnificent, and is pictured above.

Some of the magnificent beauty in the Abbey Nave.

Some of the magnificent beauty in the Abbey Nave.


A ceiling fresco at Melk Abbey.

A ceiling fresco at Melk Abbey in the library.

Another picture in the impressive nave is shown above. The abbey also has a very attractive library with numerous volumes. It is part of a school that has been associated with the monastery since the 1100s. The ceiling fresco in the library, shown above, is very colorful and quite beautiful. There is also a restaurant at the abbey.

Group learning about Durnstein on the Danube.

Group learning about Durnstein on the Danube.

Durnstein

We did a shore excursion in Durnstein, which is a small but interesting town on the Danube River. In the picture above our group is walking with a guide learning about the town and the surrounding area. There are vineyards, as this is wine country. On a hill above Durnstein is the castle where King Richard the Lion-hearted of England was held prisoner from 1192 to 1193. It is now known as the Richard the Lion-Hearted Castle. Richard was captured while on his way home from the Third Crusades by Duke Leopold V of Austria. The duke had been offended by Richard during a battle when Richard cast down his standards. The main attraction in the town is the church with its blue tower. The church tower can be seen in the picture above. We walked the streets including the narrow one with cobble stones pictured below.

The main street in Durnstein.

The main street in Durnstein.


River scene on the Danube River.

River scene on the Danube River.

Cruising the Danube River

When river cruising you have scenery on both sides of the river at all times. There are many photo opportunities such as the river scene shown above. From time to time you go through locks that take you from one water level to another. If going downstream you are lowered in water lever, and raised if you are going upstream.

St. Michael's Church in Mondsee.

St. Michael's Church in Mondsee.

St. Michael's Church

We did an all day shore excursion away from the Danube River to Salzburg. On the way we stopped to visit St. Michael's Church in Mondsee. The lovely twin-towered church, seen above, began with the Benedictine monastery and dates from 1470. This church became famous throughout the world when it was used in the wedding of Maria to Captain von Trapp in the movie The Sound of Music.

Nave in St. Michael's Church.

Nave in St. Michael's Church.

The nave is very attractive as can be seen from the picture above and below. The monastery, which is next door to the church, includes a museum displaying sculptures. Every year in September there is a chamber music festival in the monastery building. The town of Mondsee is a nice place to walk around for shopping or to stop for coffee or a meal. There is a lake nearby.

Seen in the Nave of St. Michael's Church.

Seen in the Nave of St. Michael's Church.

Salzburg

Salzburg has always been a popular destination. But in 1964 after the movie The Sound of Music was filmed there it became even more famous. In fact, there are tours that will take you to the places in and around the city where the movie was filmed. But there is a lot more to see in Salzburg. For one, it was the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), and you can see where he lived and performed. It is an easy city to walk around. Salzburg is divided by the Salzach River. On the south side of the river is Old City (Altstadt). New Town is on the north side of the river. We were taken on a guided walking tour of Salzburg, and started out in New Town. We explored Mirabell Gardens, pictured below.

Mirabell Gardens. The castle, Fortress Hohensalzburg is high on the cliff in the background.

Mirabell Gardens. The castle, Fortress Hohensalzburg, is high on the cliff in the background.

Mirabell Gardens & Palace

Mirabell Gardens (Mirabellgarten) is an attractive park with different gardens, many statues including those of dwarfs and the horse Pegasus with wings, a fountain, and a theater. In the The Sound of Music a scene was filmed in the park with Maria and the children singing Do Re Mi. The adjoining Mirabell Palace came into being in 1606. It was the residence of prince-archbishops, and is considered one of the most important buildings in Salzburg. Mozart performed in the attractive Marble Hall; it is now a popular place for weddings.

Fortress Hohensalzburg

On the cliff in the background of the picture of Mirabell Gardens is the Fortress Hohensalzburg. The fortress sits atop the Festungsberg Mountain. This castle was built by Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg in 1077 with help from Pope Gregory II. There was a conflict between church and state as to whether the pope had the power and authority over bishops and kings. Archbishop Gebhard had supported the pope and the Holy Roman Empire, which pleased the Pope. The castle was further expanded by Prince-Archbishops through the centuries. During the Napoleonic war of 1800 the fortress was surrendered to French troops. In the late 1800s the castle became a tourist attraction. Within the building of note is a mechanical organ that has 200 pipes, a chapel, and there are also some impressive rooms.

Marrionette Theater

As we made are way from Mirabell Gardens towards the river we passed the Marrionette Theater (Marionettentheater). This is considered to be one of the world's best theaters to see puppets. You can see the puppets, controlled by strings to the tempo of music, putting on a Mozart opera! The show is taken on world tours. Close to the the river and near the theater there is a statue of Herbert von Karajan, a favorite in Salzburg, and in his lifetime one of the world's great orchestra conductors. In Old City there is also a Herbert von Karajan Plaza.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's birthplace in Salzburg.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's birthplace in Salzburg.

Mozart's birthplace

We crossed the river into Old City (Altstadt) and were soon at the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. See the picture above. This was his residence during his early years until age seventeen. Mozart started performing while a child, and some of his music was composed while he lived here. The second, third, and forth floors of the building are now a museum devoted to Mozart's life. On display are a violin and viola that belonged to Mozart when he was a child.

St. Peter's Cemetery in Salzburg.

St. Peter's Cemetery in Salzburg.

Collegiate Church of St. Peter & Cemetery

The Collegiate Church of St. Peter (Stiftkirche St. Peter) was built at different times. In the present building arches in the church date from about 1240. Major additions were made in the 1770s. The church is part of the Benedictine abbey, and it was originally founded by St. Rupert as St. Peter's Abbey in 696. It was in this church that Mozart's famous Mass in C Minor was premiered in 1783. Mozart directed the orchestra and his wife, Constanze, was the lead soprano. St. Peter's Cemetery (Petersfriedhof) dates from about 700, and is a popular tourist attraction. Catacombs are carved into the rock of the Festungsberg Mountain that the cemetery butts up against. There are two chapels. Many notables are buried in the cemetery including Mozart's sister; she performed with him. It was fascinating to walk through this old cemetery filled with so much history. It is well taken care of, as can be seen the picture above. There is also a connection between St. Peter's Cemetery and the Movie The Sound of Music. Before escaping the von Trapp family hid in a cemetery. Hollywood used a studio set to film this scene. The design of the studio set is very similar to what is seen in St. Peter's Cemetery.

Exploring and shopping in Salzburg.

Exploring and shopping in Salzburg.

Exploring & shopping

After the walk with our guide we were given free time to explore Salzburg on our own. This was also time to do some shopping. Note the picture of the street above where there were many shops. As we walked around we encountered a violinist performing. It is common to see strolling musicians in Salzburg. It is an interesting place to visit.

More sights to visit

In New Town you can also visit the Mozart Residence (Mozart Wohnhaus) where the Mozart family moved in 1783. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart lived there for seven years, but it remained the family residence after he left. Another place you might want to visit is the Nonnberg Convent (near Fortress Hohensalzburg), which was founded in about 700 by St. Rupert. This is the convent that the real Maria was associated with. It is also where she married the real Captain von Trapp.

In Old City (Altstadt) you can visit the Cathedral (Dom), a very special Catholic Church in Salzburg with a long history. There is also Glockenspiel, the famous carillon tower. Another place to visit is the Residence, a palace, which has the reputation of being one of the most magnificent buildings in Salzburg. The Salzburg Museum (Neugebaude) has exhibits pertaining to the history of Salzburg and more. You will enjoy Salzburg.

River cruise Budapest to Prague

The river cruise on the Avalon Waterways Tapestry began in Budapest, where we spent two nights. For a stretch of 58 miles (93 kilometers) west the Danube River was the dividing line between Hungary to the south and Slovakia to the north. Next we cruised through Austria, which is described here, then into Germany with the seven-night cruise ending in Nuremberg. We were then taken by motor coach to Prague where we spent two nights. For a description of the ship and onboard activities see the Avalon Waterways Ships. Contact Us for more information.

Photos by Sunny Breeding. We sell images and prints.