Early the next morning, Kane announced through the ship’s speakers that we had just entered the Wachau Valley, a site not to be missed! We hurried up to the top deck, hastily taking our breakfast with us.
Magnificent Wine Country
And there it was… the Wachau Valley… THIS.IS.WINE.COUNTRY…, where world renowned wines are produced. This magnificent, fertile 20 mile stretch of valley is located northwest of Vienna further along the Danube River. It also has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its cultural landscape.
Mostly dry white wines are produced here; Reislings and Gruner Veltliners. These award-winning wines result from a magical mix of the region’s sunny, dry climate, fertile soil and wind patterns along with other ideal conditions.
Some of the Most Beautiful Country in the World
As we cruised along the river past lush, stone terraced vineyards lining the steep, rocky hillsides, centuries old villages and castle ruins, Kane gave running commentary, providing names, history and legends about the sites.
Castles Strewn About!!
Nestled among these vineyards are medieval castle ruins atop strategic, rock-strewn peaks on tree covered hillsides overlooking the river and the regions they controlled. Below these fortifications lay centuries old villages with flowery, bright window boxes overhanging narrow cobblestone streets. Church steeples and clock towers rise behind old homes, some still using thatched and ceramic tiled roofs. It’s the scene of fairytales.
Every town in medieval times had a clock tower, often located on the church steeple. People of that period could not afford timepieces, so a large clock was placed at a high elevation central to the village in order for all residents to be able to see it and keep time.
Where Richard the Lionheart was Imprisoned
Of the many crumbled remnants of centuries old castles along the Wachau Valley, the most famous one was the ruins of Dürnstein Castle, originally built in the 12th century. Richard the Lionheart was believed to have been imprisoned there between 1192 and 1193.
Up next: Melk, Austria
Start at the beginning of this Viking Grand European Cruise!
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