Hollabrunn in Lower Austria

Hollabrunn is a town in the western part of the Weinviertel quarter in Lower Austria. It has approximately 11,000 residents and is a county town (Bezirkshauptstadt). The name Hollabrunn means "elderberry well" and makes just as much sense in English as it does in German. I guess it refers to a settlement that had a fountain and a lot of elderberry, which reminds me of my basic ecology lectures in which I learned that elderberry indicates high levels of ammonium, which in turn usually originates from excessive spread of manure – at least in Austria. Back to Hollabrunn.

Hollabrunn has a few sightseeing attractions to offer. Note for example the main square, which is nothing to shout about in comparison to any other historical market town square – in a way, they all look pretty much the same. The market square of Hollabrunn is neat, framed by Baroque town houses and comes with a Pestsäule or Trinity Column at its centre, in commemoration of the bubonic plague. It was built in 1681, only two years before the Turkish invasion that led to the Second Siege of Vienna. In 1713, the Pestsäule got an upgrade: Four statues of saints were added, St. Rochus, St. Sebastian, St. Franz Xaver and St. Johann von Nepomuk. In 1862, Hollabrunn′s market square was enhanced once again, this time by a fountain. The "Florianibrunnen" comes with a near cast-iron statue by St. Florian.

The parish church of Hollabrunn is dedicated to St. Ulrich. Its core is a Romanesque church that was built in 1160. This original church was extended towards east in the late 13th century. This church was severely damaged by Bohemian troops of King Johann in 1336 and re-built in the following years in Gothic style. In the late 17th century, Hollabrunn had accumulated enough wealth to afford the refurbishment of the church in Baroque style. In 1784, a cemetery around the parish church was dissolved and the tombstones attached to the façade of the church′s outer walls. To make things worse, the parish church was re-Gothicised in the 19th century. First, in 1823, the Baroque interiors were removed; later, in 1880, a neo-Gothic altar was built.

More Sightseeing Attractions of Hollabrunn

A sharp contrast to the ancient church St. Ulrich is the small church in the Gartenstadt district of Hollabrunn. It was built in 1972, note the glass windows in the eastern wall by Franz Deed. The mosaic on the outer wall was made by Hermann Bauch. Another noteworthy building is the Alte Hofmühle or "Old Court Mill". It was originally the residence of a local noble family and later transformed into a mill. So in a way, it is both a court and a mill. Since 1974, the piazza in front of the Hofmühle holds a Baroque shrine. Today, the Hofmühle is home to the town museum.

People with an interest in modern and post-modern Austrian architecture might know Hollabrunn from a building project called "Bachpromenade". This lane of detached houses were designed by Ottokar Uhl, who involved the residents of the area and the future owners of the buildings. The Bachpromenade was built in 1972. My personal favourite among the many attractions of Hollabrunn, however, is the "Pinkelstein" ("Wee Stone"). According to legend, the great master Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart himself took a piss at this very stone when he was on a journey from Vienna to Praque. The town folk of Hollabrunn uses this historical event as a reason for holding an annual festivity at the wee stone, the "Ringelreihn am Pinkelstein".

History of Hollabrunn in Lower Austria

Finally, a few words on the history of Hollabrunn: The area around the modern town has been populated since Neolithic days. In 1135, a settlement and land in this area was first mentioned in a written document. Since 1288, the name "Oberhollabrunn" ("Upper Hollabrunn") is recorded. In 1220, this place became a parish and later, received market privileges at some point before 1377.

In 1530, Hollabrunn became a post carriage stop on the line between Vienna and Prague, a coat of arms was granted to the prospering town in 1565. In these years, most of Lower Austria turned protestant. This changed for Hollabrunn after 1662, when the Princes of Dietrichstein became landlords and supported the counter-reformation. In 1667, a Capuchin monastery was founded, but dissolved again in 1782 upon orders of Emperor Joseph II.

The Napoleonic Wars led to a battle near Hollabrunn in 1805; this is why the town′s name is mentioned in the Arc de Triomph in Paris. The first half of the 19th century saw a rapid recovery of Hollabrunn, accelerated greatly by the establishment of county administration facilities in 1848. In 1872, Hollabrunn′s station was built to link it to the "Süd-Norddeutsche Verbindungsbahn" (South-North German Link Train).

Since then, Hollabrunn prospered even more; in 1875, a hospital was built. In 1908, the town was elevated to the rank of a city; in 1928, the name Oberhollabrunn was finally changed into the current Hollabrunn. Today, Hollabrunn is a wealthy and neat market town with good links to Vienna; this might make it a convenient stop-over destination. Keep in mind, though, that Hollabrunn is by no means a very touristy place and that there are towns in Austria which definitely appeal more to international visitors than this one.

Back to: "Lower Austria Sightseeing Guide"

Sightseeing by Austrian Province

Bregenz and Vorarlberg - Innsbruck and Tyrol - Salzburg - Salzkammergut - Graz and Styria - Klagenfurt and Carinthia - Wachau and Lower Austria - Vienna - Burgenland

Further Reading

Official Website of Lower Austria