South of the Marchfeld:
Rohrau, Hainburg & Bruck an der Leitha
The area South of the Marchfeld is considered to be part of the "Industrieviertel" or "Industrial Quarter" and about as inviting as it sounds. In fact, I voted it into my list of the least attractive places in Austria. On the edge of this area, however, there are a few pretty spots worth exploring. On the western edge, this includes the towns of Mödling, Baden and Laxenburg. On the eastern edge, before you dive into the remoteness of the Burgenland, the towns Rohrau, Hainburg and Bruck an der Leitha make nice stop-over destinations. The antique Roman town of Carnuntum even makes a good day-trip destination.
Since Carnuntum is covered in a separate article, let′s start with the nearby town Hainburg. Just by the border to today′s Slovakia, Hainburg still bears the marks of centuries as a border-town: Heavy fortifications tell tales of the Turkish threat, most impressively the 13th century "Wiener Tor" gate. There are hills around Hainburg and it is worth driving up one of them if you travel by car. They grant a great view over the Marchfeld plain, the area South of Hainburg towards the Burgenland, as well as to Slovakia.
Vienna′s backyard: Where Nobility retreated to
Moving on to Rohrau, you get a chance to learn more about Austria′s musical heritage. This town is the birthplace of Josef Haydn (and his lesser-known brother Michael, who was a composer himself). The house in which they were supposedly born is now transformed into a charming museum. It starts to feel somewhat fake once you learn that the actual house of the Haydn family burnt down in 1899.
The second claim to fame of Rohrau is the castle of the Harrach family, once ranking amongst the empire′s most powerful noblemen, nowadays simply seriously rich people. The live in Schloss Harrach Castle, a Baroque building of which only parts are open to the public. The core of the exhibition is the extensive private art collection of the Harrach family, from which some paintings were stolen a few years ago.
To the former Border of Austria
Moving on to Bruck an der Leitha, you will follow the Leitha River, which used to be the border between the Austrian-run and the Hungarian-run parts of the Empire. Just like most places in Eastern Austria, Bruck used to be a popular destination for raping and plundering hordes from Eastern Europe, such as Magyars or Turks.
In response to this constant threat, the city bred impressive walls and fortifications. The city has a pretty main square, with nice burgher houses, two fountains and a plague column. The parish church is worth a closer look. There is also another Schloss Harrach Castle, this one has nice formal gardens that are open to the public. The castle itself is private property and closed to uninvited visitors of the touristy kind.
Nearby attractions include the town and castle of Eckartsau, the National Parks Donauauen and Seewinkel-Neusiedler See, the towns of Eisenstadt and Rust as well as Laxenburg with its impressive castle. Travelling in the area is best done by using you own mean of transport.