Industrieviertel of Lower Austria:
the "Industrial Quarter" Outside of Vienna
The province of Lower Austria is divided into four distinct cultural regions, the "Viertel" ("Quarters"): Mostviertel, the Waldviertel, the Weinviertel and Industrieviertel. The Industrieviertel is also called "Viertel unter dem Wienerwald" (Quarter before the Vienna Woods), but to me, the term "Industrievertel" is significantly more revealing and honest.
To make it short: Most of the Industrieviertel is just as appealing as its name would suggest - not at all. There are a few exceptions to this rule, though. The geographic extensions of the Industrieviertel are marked by the Danube along its northern border, the western border to the Mostviertel is marked by the so-called "Thermenlinie" (spa line), following Mödling, Baden and the southern tip of the Vienna Woods. The southern and eastern borders are the political ones to Styria, the Burgenland and Slovakia.
In terms of landscape, the Industrieviertel bridges the hills of the Mostviertel and Vienna Woods (the outskirts of the Alps) and the plain of the Wiener Becken. It is shaped by many vineyards and extensively used agricultural land (fields). In addition to that, the Industrieviertel is characterised by (you guessed it) a great deal of heavy industries, motorways and commuter′s towns, especially in the vicinity of Vienna. The latter ones have been portrayed in the movie "Dog Days" and to me, they represent the ultimate suburban nightmare. Noteworthy exceptions are the towns of Baden, Bad Vöslau or Mödling, with several pleasant villages and the monastery of Heiligenkreuz in their surroundings. The southern parts of the Industrievertel are also more attractive, at least those of the Semmering and the Rax.
Industrial Towns in sphere of Vienna
The name "Industrieviertel" is not as recent as one might think. The region owes it rather to the fact that it was among the first in the Habsburg Empire to develop manufactories and proto-industrialisation. Ever since 1780, the direct access to wood, coal and steel (iron ore from the Eisenwurzen area is being mined and refined since the Middle Ages) ensured the Industrieviertel of a prospering economy.
Even today, long after these comparative advantages have become insignificant, many steel producing companies and other industries can be found in such places and Wiener Neustadt, Neunkirchen, Berndorf or Schwechat. Only that today, they often operate in high-technology fields. Another important aspect of the local economy are logistics and transportation, as the local motorways are Vienna′s primary links to the country′s south and Slovakia (as well as the countries east of it). Vienna′s airport can also be found in the Industrieviertel, and trains have been significant ever since the 19th century.
Industrieviertel since WWII
The most serious blow to the Industrieviertel′s industries came in the years following WWII: After heavy damages due to bombings (to hit the enemy′s industry), the Industrieviertel was part of the Soviet′s occupational zone. The Soviets dismantled many machines and other essential parts of factories and moved them to the USSR as part of compensations or reparations for war losses. Given the millions of dead Russians the Wehrmacht had left behind, I think Austria made still a relatively ′good′ deal and was lucky to get around paying an even higher price than machinery.
Note that the area north of the Leithagebirge is rather agricultural than industrial. Here you will find remote landscapes and villages that manage to be ugly even without having factories. Noteworthy exceptions are Petronell-Carnuntum with its impressive Roman excavations, as well as Bruck an der Leitha, Hainburg and Rohrau. If you want to visit this area, note that it can be easily combined with a tour of the Marchfeld or the northern Burgenland (Seewinkel).