Lustenau in Vorarlberg:
Austria′s Biggest Market Town
Lustenau is a community in Austria′s western-most province, Vorarlberg. It is a market town (Marktgemeinde) with a population of over 20,000; normally, communities of this size are elevated to the rank of a city. This was not the case with Lustenau, which now claims to be the biggest market town of Austria. Lustenau is situated by the Rhine and has an attractive town centre; but despite Vorarlberg′s strong performance in tourism, Lustenau itself can hardly be considered to be at the focus of attention when it comes to international visitors.
A few words about sightseeing opportunities: Due to frequent flooding from the Rhine river, there are no significant churches that pre-date the 17th century. The biggest church of Lustenau, the Pfarrkirche or Parish Church, was built relatively late in 1832, according to plans by Alois Negrelli. Between 1872 and 1875, the church was altered into a central hall building and renovated after 1950. In 1991, the church was modernised and drastically altered - causing a lot of debate in and beyond Lustenau. It includes Europe′s largest non-supported (thus, sort of free-floating) roof. For traditionalists, the church of pilgrimage Maria Loretto might be more attractive.
Maria Loretto is the oldest church of Lustenau and dates back to 1645, when it was endowed by a local family. The Baroque chapel is part of the parish of Rheindorf. The Antoniuskapelle is yet another chapel, built between 1898 and 1901. The Pfarrkirche zum Heiligen Erlöser is a proper parish church, built between 1933 and 1935 - thus another modern church, designed by Willibald Braun and Emanuel Thurnherr. Not the last modern sacral building of Lustenau: The church Kirche zum guten Hirten was built between 1969 and 1975, designed by Heinrich Tritthart (the surname means "kicks hard"). That much about churches.
Modern Sightseeing & History of Lustenau
In case that you wonder about the recent building activities: Lustenau was a village for most of its history; only in the 20th century, the textile and lace manufacturing of Lustenau started to prosper and turn into a major branch of Vorarlberg′s economy. Through this development, Lustenau and its surroundings benefited tremendously and grew a great deal within a few decades. This explains the relatively low number of historic buildings. That being said, Lustenau is anything but a recent foundation. Oldest findings of settlements in Lustenau date back to Neolithic days and Roman rulers left various coins and other remains in the area. The name Lustenau was first mentioned in a Karolingian document dating back to 887.
Lustenau′s medieval and early modern history was turbulent and ended with its fall first to the Habsburgs, then to Bavaria and finally back to Austria (thus Habsburg again) between 1806 and 1817. In a way, this reflects the colourful past of much of Vorarlberg. Around 1900, the training of the Rhine set an end to the previously frequently occurring floods. This and the textile manufacturing mentioned above led to a rapid growth of Lustenau. In 1902, the village was elevated to a town by Emperor Franz Joseph I. In the years after 1930, Lustenau developed a reputation as a backbone for the prohibited Nazi-party. Bombings during the war cause fairly little damage; a factory for military aircraft binoculars was opened in Lustenau. For its support, the Nazis opened a slave labour camp in Lustenau, which also supplied dozens of other local companies with cheap labour force.
In May 1945, Lustenau was occupied by French troops. The first local elections led to a conservative victory, but ever since the second election, Lustenau is dominated by the right-wing Freedom Party. If you want to learn more about Lustenau, note the local museums: The museum "Rheinschauen" presents the Rhine and tells the story of the people living by its shores. The Stickereimuseum will teach you more about the textile industries that once gave rise to Lustenau′s early-20th-century boom. For people with a specialist interest, the Radiomuseum gives an overview on the history of radios - with 400 of these devices. Attractions and noteworthy cities nearby Lustenau include Bludenz, Feldkirch and Hohenems.
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