Touring the Marchfeld Plain & Eastern
Danube Area - Part II
Finally, let′s have a quick look at Marchegg. This town, which still has some of its original town walls, sits just by the border to Slovakia and has another castle. A lot more humble than Niederweiden or Schlosshof, Schloss Marchegg contains a Museum of Hunting ("Jagdmuseum"). Hunting is a big deal in upper-class and rural Austria, so checking out this aspect of the Austrian soul might be interesting for international visitors. Particularly if you are fond of stuffed animals, guns and falconry.
If not, you might prefer to stroll around in the castle or go to the "Afrikamuseum" ("Africa Museum") in the side-buildings of the castle, with a wild array of "Afriatica" (intellectual′s speak for "ethno-stuff from Africa"). However, the reason why most visitors come to Marchegg is the WWF nature reserve, which comprises of a big chunk of swamp around the River March. Here you can find interesting water snails, Austria′s only native species of turtles (if you are lucky - I was once and got a blurry photograph to prove it) and Europe′s biggest colony of white storks.
They nest in the high trees (mostly oaks) and you can conveniently observe them between March and August from wooden platforms. Beyond that, there are paths running through the reserve with information plates about the ecology of the place. It is a good place to watch herons, too.
Town & Castle of Orth, Danube & Eckartsau Castle
If you want to combine your visit to the Marchfeld with the National Park Donauauen, I suggest you start the second part in Orth an der Donau, which has another castle with a museum dedicated to fisheries ("Fischereimuseum") and a visitor center. If the nobility didn′t come to this part of Austria for hunting, they came for fishing, after all.
There is also a museum dedicated to beekeeping ("Bienenmuseum"). Both museums target people with specialist interests, but Orth makes a good starting point for an in-depth experience of the Donauauen. You can attend guided walks or boat tours or rent a boat yourself. If you haven′t had enough of castles, stop by Schloss Eckartsau, some five kilometres off Orth. This was another hunting lodge for high-ranking nobility, the Counts von Kinsky (their city palace in Vienna can be found to the opposite of the Schottenstift Abbey).
It was built in the 1720ies (right after the Turkish Wars ended), but bought by the Habsburgs in 1760. They didn′t use the chateau very often, though, and it was a sleeping beauty until Archduke Franz Ferdinand decided to re-vamp it in 1908. This was done upon the occasion of a hunting party, for which he had invited Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany.
The Habsburgs' Final Destination
These days, however, Austrians remember Schloss Eckartsau rather for its big appearance on the stage of Austria′s history only eleven years after the hunting party: In 1919, the castle was the place where Emperor Karl and his family were arrested. Since Karl refused to formally abduct, he and his immediate family was forced to emigrate to Switzerland.
A move that he prepared from Eckartsau. Today, you can pick up information on these events in the castle. Beyond that, Schloss Eckartsau also houses a visitor centre of the National Park Donauauen.
Other nearby attractions include even more hunting lodges or castles: Rohrau Castle of the Counts of Harrach (who still live there), the Habsburg′s castle of Laxenburg and various smaller chateaux. The Roman town of Carnuntum is close and so are the attractions of the Seewinkel area in the Burgenland. There is a wildlife park in Gänserndorf north of Marchegg, which will appeal to the little ones.
Return to "Marchfeld & Danube - Part I"