Krems in the Wachau:
Ancient Alleys & Wonderful Wines

The parish church of Krems - not the only attraction in the medieval Wachau city

Before I can start with the article on Krems, a short introduction to the German language: "Und" means "and" (rather self-explanatory, isn′t it?). "Krems Und Stein" therefore meanů? "Krems and Stein", well done. Now you are fit to understand your first Austrian joke (or rather funny phrase) in the original language: "Krems Und Stein sind drei Städte" means "Krems and Stein are three cities". Doesn′t make sense? It does: "Und" was the stupid name of a small town, which was - together with the town of Stein - merged into what is Krems today. Don′t worry, there′s better jokes in Austria.

Anyway, Krems is an exceptionally beautiful town, especially if you ignore the thousands of tourists that flock its centre every summer. It consists of the old centre (Krems), the quarter of Stein and the two are connected by the neighbourhood of Und. Krems has a fairly new university (Donau Universität or "Danube University") and a bit of studenty life, adding a fresh note to the otherwise rather tourism-oriented town. The other fresh dash comes from the Kunsthalle Krems, a brand new art centre (see below).

Austria′s Most Scenic Medieval Town?

Krems has been a proper settlement for a very long time, growing rich on its vineyards and the trade along the Danube during the Middle Ages. Its success peaked in the 13th century, and continued until Krems was plundered in the early 17th century in the course of the 30 Years′ War. To make things worse, the significance of the Danube as a trade route had decreased, too, and so building activities suddenly came to a halt. This means that Krems has a remarkable amount of Medieval architecture, as there was little re-modelling going on during Baroque days unlike in most other towns of Austria.

Start your tour at the Landstraße, the obligatory pedestrian′s zone filled up with shops and supermarkets. However, it is here that you will find the Bürgerspitalskirche Church. It was built in the 1470ies on the site of the former Jewish Ghetto and served as a church to the associated hospital (the name means "burgher′s hospital church").

Have a look inside not to miss out on the interiors, then continue to go to the Rathaus or Town Hall. Its base is a Renaissance court, but the nearby Fellnerhof building with its arcaded courtyard is even more impressive. From here, you are probably doing best by walking up and down the cobbled streets and alleys of Krems, sneak into courts and chat to the people. You are at the very heart of the medieval city.

The biggest of Krems′ numerous square is the one in front of the parish church. The church was originally built in Romanesque style, but it was re-modelled in the 17th century. It is among the relatively few Baroque buildings, which you can tell immediately after entering: The interiors overwhelm with hardcore frescos, stucco work and elaborate altars. There is another church, called Piaristenkirche nearby, which again features Baroque interiors in an older building (Gothic, in this case).

Continue with "Krems - Part II"

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 Krems

Official Website of Lower Austria