Oberndorf: The Flachgau Contribution
A while ago I was having a conversation with a few friends about my plan to do a website that would provide local advice on Austria for international visitors. We discussed the things that would have to go into such a guide and where to send people. As we were all from the Salzburg region, we were obviously focussed on the attractions of the city of Salzburg and the Salzkammergut. At some point, we started to think about places that would make a worthwhile attraction for a trip in the Flachgau county.
The Flachgau is the region in the very north of the Salzburg province, north of the city of Salzburg. It is where most people from Salzburg live and quite a scenic bit of Austria: Smooth hills mark the outskirts of the Alps, there are several lakes in various sizes and shapes and the villages, despite of being mostly commuter′s places, preserved a lot of their rural charm. The Flachgau has only one big problem: For everything that is pleasant about it, there is something better nearby.
Michaelbeuern is a pretty Benedictine monastery with friendly monks - but Kremsmünster or St. Florian nearby in Upper Austria are a completely different scale. The hills around Lake Wallersee and Lake Fuschlsee have some good hiking routes, but there are higher and more dramatic mountains just south of the Flachgau county. The brewery of Obertrum does a good job with making beer, but Austria′s biggest brewery with an attached museum is the Stiegl Brewery in the city of Salzburg, only some 15 minutes by car.
The lakes of the Flachgau are great, and popular with domestic tourists as well as locals during the summer. But to the critical eye, he lakes of the nearby Salzkammergut are simply more scenic, with towns and villages that offer more culture than the generally younger Flachgau towns. We got the Flachgau Blues.
The one Spot of International Interest
Is there really nothing that would be of interest to an international visitor? I was thinking hard, came up with Mattsee and its charming mix of a small castle, three lakes, a hill and a collegiate convent′s church. There is an interesting Freilichtmuseum featuring old farms and folk culture in Großgmain - but even that is of rather local interest. Not even the bloody "Sound of Music Tour" stops by in any place in the Flachgau and goes straight into the Salzkammergut. Finally, I realised that the one unique, special, original and internationally recognised place is (drum roll)…Oberndorf.
Oberndorf is an old outpost of Salzburg, located by the Salzach river and has a Bavarian sibling called Laufen on the other side of the River (which marks the Austrian-German border). It is full of burgher′s houses built at some point between medieval days and Baroque times, when the town grew rich on salt trade and taxation (even though Oberndorf is not quite as pretty as the river-towns of Braunau or Schärding in Upper Austria).
Strolling around Oberndorf and Laufen is a relaxing experience, and you should keep an eye on the Baroque heritage notable in the churches and merchant′s houses. There′s also the obligatory ensemble of Austrian sights: A main square, a Rathaus town hall and alike.
Continue with "Oberndorf - Part II"
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