Amstetten in Lower Austria:
You all know what it′s famous for
Amstetten is a county town (Bezirkshauptstadt) in the western part of Lower Austria and the most significant city in the region. Amstetten has a population of approximately 23,000 people, is ugly like hell and gained global fame (or rather infame) in summer of 2008. A young woman whose mother had mysteriously disappeared some 20 years earlier was taken to a hospital in Amstetten.
National media noticed the incident – but for a few days, the whole case remained only a side-line in the news. Until it finally turned out that the mother of the young woman had been kept in her father′s basement for 18 years, supposedly as a sex slave – there the man had fathered several children and raised four of them underground in the basement; including the young woman who was taken to the hospital.
Austrian authorities were somewhat used to such a situation from the Kampusch case, which had been solved only two years earlier. The liberated family was isolated in the hospital of Mauer, a quarter of Amstetten. The international media, which besieged the clinic, was successfully prevented from penetrating the premises. Within days, Amstetten was top in the international news. What used to be an industrial centre that few people noticed beyond Amstetten station, now even attracted a reliable stream of tourists with peculiar sightseeing preferences. For more on this, please see my article on "Austria for Freaks".
Sightseeing in Amstetten in Lower Austria
A few words on sightseeing attractions of Amstetten: The "Mostviertler Bauernmuseum" is based on a private collection of agricultural devices. A sub-section is dedicated to the local arms manufacturer Urschitz, which supplied the Swiss Guard of the Vatican with arms until recently. Note Schloss Ulmerfeld, a local castle; the parish church of St. Stephan with a noteworthy Gothic vaulted ceiling. There is also the Romanesque church of St. Agatha, one of the oldest churches in western Lower Austria. Note the English-style landscape park of Edla-Park with the chateaux of Landschloss Edla at its centre. The Schulpark has a memorial for the many Amstetten people killed in WWII. A modern church was built in Allersdorf, called Pfarrkirche St. Marien, built in 1973.
Note the city hall (Rathaus) at the market square, with a Classicist façade. You can explore Amstetten′s 19th century industrial heritage at the water tower from 1880 or the electicity plant at the Ybbs river. The latter one has repeatedly been modernised and is still being operated. The now world famous psychiatry building of Mauer (the one where the Fritzl family was isolated after the liberation) is a noteworthy Art Nouveau or Jugendstil building, built according to designs by Carlo von Boog. In nearby Ardagger, there is a former collegiate convent (Stift Ardagger), a museum of oldtimer cars and the "Mostgalerie Ardagger" (Cider Gallery Ardagger).
Another "attraction" of the entire Mostviertel area is of course the local cider. Even though Amstetten might not offer a great deal for the normal tourist, it is home to a significant population and the administrative, educational and economic centre of a region called "Mostviertel" (Cider District - thanks to a local agricultural speciality). I will concentrate on the history of Amstetten in the second part of this article.
Continue with "History of Amstetten"