Enns: Great Day-Trip from Linz
Going from Vienna to Salzburg by train is something I have done quite often and still do. It means a long and dull rude across the large and dull province of Lower Austria, with the few exciting moments of rushing by Melk Abbey or the odd pretty church. The first interesting sight - and the sign for entering Upper Austria - is always the distant towers, walls and roofs of the medieval city of Enns. Even from a distant train it always made me curious on how the town might be like.
For sure it makes a great day-trip from Linz: Near Mauthausen, it might also be a good spot to distract you from potentially shocking impressions you bring from an excursion to Austria′s most notorious concentration camp. But Enns is also sufficient to keep you busy for a day by its own if you are looking for an example for pretty little Upper Austrian towns with a lot of history, possibly in combination with a visit in the famous abbey of St. Florian nearby. A lot of history means in the case of Enns: Streching back to Roman times.
Medieval things to See in Enns
A settlement for quite a while, the Romans made "Lauriacum" as it was known back then the civil capital of the province Noricum (formerly known as the independent Celtic kingdom Noricum). They also built a military base for an entire legion; this was due to the excellent strategic position that the site offered: securing the Danube and isolating the region towards what is Lower Austria today. This strategic location secured the importance of Enns for the following centuries. The town is best explored by a relaxed stroll around the town centre.
Start at the Hauptplatz or Main Square, which has all the features that a proper historic main square in Austria typically has: Burgher houses with Baroque facades, cafes and inbred people sitting around. If you climb up the enormous Stadtturm or town tower, you will also have an opportunity to see some of the arcaded courtyards that many of the - originally medieval - burgher houses have hidden behind their colourful facades. The Stadtturm was built in the 16th century and is the most prominent sightseeing feature of Enns. If you stand on top of the tower, watch out for the train and think of all the people travelling between Vienna and Salzburg and wondering what Enns might be like.
Back to the Roman Roots
Go to the Museum Lauriacum, housed in the 16th century town hall, to learn more about the Roman past of Enns. Here you will find a wealth of finds from the area, including silver ware, items of daily use and a 2nd-century fresco.
The civilian town of Lauriacum was a bit outside of today′s Enns, but you can still chase its traces in the St Laurenz Basilika. It might be a 15-minute-walk to get there, but it is pretty amazing to learn how the current basilica was built on the foundations of a Roman temple. Parts of the Roman walls are incorporated in the church as the Romans turned Christian - it remained a church ever since and traces of the centuries can be found in different parts of the building. Probably nothing particularly fancy for an Italian, but considering that this is Austria, it′s bloody fascinating!
Back to: "Upper Austria Sightseeing Guide"