A cold wind cut through Durnstein as we walked along the Danube into the tight corridors of this petite Austrian town in the Wachau region.
In some ways Durnstein reminded me of the small villages that dot the central California coast–wine shops, little bars, and shops selling crafts and handmade goods. It is the kind of place I had hoped to find during our travels in Europe last year.
We had gotten some great information the night before about the village from our Gate 1 cruise directors, but there’s nothing quite like finally seeing a place for yourself. After an informative tour, we were left to explore the city, which by this point was looking downright moody.
Now known for its wine and schnapps (we can vouch for both), Durnstein’s first claim to fame came when Duke Leopold V of Austria imprisoned the King Richard Lionhert of England in the town’s hillside castle. The story plays out something like a Bravo reality show. Leopold took offense to Richard at the Battle of Acre, when he committed the grave error of “casting down Leopold’s standard from the walls” (not entirely sure what that means) during the Third Crusade. But wait, it gets worse. Leopold also suspected that Richard was the one who put a hit on his cousin, Conrad of Montferrat in Jerusalem. Unfortunately, this revenge tactic didn’t bode well for Leopold because Pope Celestine III excommunicated the Duke for capturing a fellow crusader.
Durnstein Castle is a bit more battered and bruised than it was during Richard’s day–it took on devastating damage from the Swedish Empire in 1645; however, visitors to the town are free to explore its stone remains. Because of the low clouds that blanketed the village, Beth and I chose to pass on the castle hike and explore the village instead before heading back to our ship, The Sound of Music, for a lunchtime cruise up the Danube.
So now that you know a little bit more about Durnstein, we’d like to invite you a little photo tour of the Austria’s most charming towns.
Do you like to visit small towns or big cities when you travel?
*While we were hosted by Gate 1 Travel, our thoughts and opinions are entirely our own.
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*Please remember all photos on this website, unless otherwise noted, are copyrighted and property of Beers and Beans Travel Website & Bethany Salvon. Please do not use them without my permission. If you do want to use one of them please contact me first. Thanks!
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