Lilienfeld in Lower Austria:
The Unexpected Mother of Austria′s Skiing Craze
Lilienfeld is a town in Lower Austria. It has a population of a mere 3,000 souls. Nevertheless, Lilienfeld is a county town (Bezirkshauptstadt), which makes it the administrative, economic and educational centre for the entire region. Within Austria, Lilienfeld is mostly known for its monastery, "Stift Lilienfeld".
In terms of tourism beyond the monastery, Lilienfeld is of rather limited appeal. The town advertises itself as the "green lung of Lower Austria" and promotes its natural beauty. There are numerous hiking paths up and down the hills that surround Lilienfeld (most notably the Muckenkogel, almost a mountain); however, do not expect a great deal of Alpine scenery.
Even the celebrated Muckenkogel peaks at a humble 1248 metres above sea level. Nevertheless, the hill comes with its own ski lift and ski resort during winter. In 1904, the Muckenkogel ski lift even made history, when the first giant slalom in the history of skiing mankind was held here under the guidance of local skiing pioneer Mathias Zdarsky.
History & Attractions of Lilienfeld
Lilienfeld is the logical centre of the Traisental valley. Historically, this was determined by the important Cistercian monastery, which was founded in 1202. The monastery prospered, yet it did not undergo the massive developments of the Baroque age that transformed many other Austrian monasteries in the 18th century.
Therefore, the tourist information office tries to sell the monastery as Austria′s biggest Medieval one. This is somewhat dubious, but the facility is well worth seeing nonetheless. Beyond that, note the various town museums in the region – they are of purely regional interest, but a good starting point if you are interested in local history.
Otherwise, cycling tourists might enjoy Lilienfeld for the "Traisentalradweg", a bicycle route running through the Traisental Valley. It connects Lilienfeld with Mariazell, runs through a very scenic piece of Austria and makes a good route of pilgrimage. With the revival of pilgrimage culture in Austria, this route has recently seen an increase in the interest it received. Lilienfeld is fairly easy to access from St. Pölten; however, don′t expect it to be urban in whatever way – Lilienfeld is remote, rural and non-touristy.