Mödling: A Classic Day-trip from Vienna - Part I
Going southwards from Vienna, you will quickly get to the town of Mödling without even leaving urban-looking surroundings - the Lower Austrian city has essentially merged with the capital and now struggles with it dual identity of a suburb and something with independent life.
Trains from Vienna′s Südbahnhof station leave every couple of minutes and so Mödling has become a popular residential area for commuters. This did not really add to the city′s appeal, especially near the station (which is where most day-trippers from Vienna arrive), Mödling is about as appealing as diarrhoea. You will have to move on and go for the city centre to find the charming spots.
The rich historic heritage of Mödling is quite obvious in the city centre: A few quite attractive squares around the pedestrian zone of Schrannenplatz offer some notable sgraffito houses from Renaissance days and there are the obligatory Rathaus City Hall, small churches and lanes as well as Baroque burgher houses, fountains and a trinity column. An outstanding landmark is the parish church of St Othmar, which was built in the 15th century in order to serve as both a church and a fortress.
Sightseeing in Mödling City Centre
Despite of St Othmar′s impressive walls, essentially the entire population of Mödling was killed in a massacre when the Turkish troops advanced to Vienna in 1683.
Thus, most of the more impressive buildings date from the years after the siege. Right next to St Othmar, you can find a Charnel House with a very well-carved Romanesque base and a Baroque roof. The roof was added after the Turkish massacre, as the Charnel House now also served as the bell tower of the city.
St Othmar makes an excellent starting point for exploring an area of the Vienna Woods that is called the "Naturpark Föhrenberge" or "Nature Reserve Fir Hills". This remarkable piece of landscape consists of the Eastern-most extensions of the Northern Calciferous Alps and is shaped by strongly eroded limestone, on which fir trees grow (this the name - surprise).
Mödling's Church: Access to the Vienna Woods
The landscape resembles Croatia much more than anything else in Austria and surprised me quite a bit when I was there the first time. Especially during the summer, the odour of the trees and the over-all atmosphere makes you feel like hiking in a Mediterranean country. Unfortunately, the sea is rather far - but you might be lucky and find a spot where you can see to Bratislava.
There is a dense network of hiking paths up and down the hills and it is not big deal to go for a walk - no special hiking gear required for that one. Sprinkled between the hills are several small villas, castles and chateaux of various Viennese aristocrats, mostly 19th-century-neo-Classical crap. However, there are a few buildings worth being noted and so an excursion is certainly worth the effort.
Continue with "Mödling - Part II"