Bad Gastein: Belle Époque, Spa-Resort, Radontherapie und Geschichte

In the midst of Hohe Tauern National Park and in the heart of Austrian state of Salzburg lies at elevation of 1,000 meters Bad Gastein. Its distinctive townscape, which includes beautiful "Belle Époque" buildings, blends harmoniously into its natural setting.

The Gastein valley /Germ. Gasteiner Tal/ was settled by Bavarian peasants in the 9th century. Field names in the highest-lying southern parts also denote a Carantanian (Slavic) colonization. Gastein is first mentioned as Gastuna in a 963 deed, when the area belonged to the German stem duchy of Bavaria. It was originally an alpine farming and gold mining area and the site of an ancient trade route crossing the main ridge of the Central Eastern Alps. In 1297 Duke Otto III and his brother Stephen I, both highly indebted, sold it to the Prince-Archbishops of Salzburg. Already about 1230, the minnesinger Neidhart von Reuental had referred to the hot springs in his Middle High German poem Die Graserin in der Gastein; the spas were visited by the Habsburg emperor Frederick III as well as by the Renaissance physician Paracelsus.
Gastein valley
In the 19th century the waters of Bad Gastein became a fashionable resort, visited by European monarchs as well as the rich and famous. Some notable guests of the past included Empress Elisabeth of Austria (Sisi) and the German Emperor Wilhelm I with his chancellor Otto von Bismarck as well as Subhas Chandra Bose, a leading Indian nationalist, Tsar Ferdinand I of Bulgaria, King Faisal I of Iraq, King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia and Iran's last king Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, industrialists like Wilhelm von Opel and artists like Heinrich Mann, Robert Stolz and W. Somerset Maugham.

Bad Gastein, Austria
On 14 August 1865 Bismarck had signed the Gastein Convention with Austria concerning the joint administration of the provinces of Schleswig and Holstein after the Second Schleswig War. The composer Franz Schubert was once believed to have sketched a Gmunden-Gastein Symphony (D. 849) during his stay in August and September 1825. Though no score appears to have survived, it is often identified with the Symphony No. 9 in C major (D. 944).
Hotel Weismayr in Bad Gastein, Austria
Mass tourism was pushed by the opening of the Tauern Railway station in 1905.  The name "Bad" means "spa", reflecting the town's history as a health resort. The local Heilstollen (literally 'healing tunnel') thermal spring water earned the town its early fame. Theophrastus Parcelsus (1493–1541) had studied the spring water to discover its secrets. Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist Marie Curie (1867–1934) and Austrian physicist Heinrich Mache (1876–1954) helped to discover that it contained radon and as a result radon therapy began in the town.
Gatz Mountain Club in Bad Gastein, Austria
Beside its water treatments, the town is popular for winter sports. Bad Gastein hosted the 1958 World Championships in alpine skiing and regularly is a scene of the snowboarding and boardercross worldcup.

Source: Wikipedia /shortcut/.
Images: Images: Public Domain and,

Hohenwerfen castle as the Schloss Adler: Where Eagles Dare

Hohenwerfen Castle (German: Burg Hohenwerfen) stands high above the Austrian town of Werfen (623 m asl) in the Salzach valley, approximately 40 km south of Salzburg.
The castle is surrounded by the Berchtesgaden Alps and the adjacent Tennengebirge mountain range. The fortification is a "sister" of Hohensalzburg Castle both dated from the 11th century.

The former fortification was built between 1075 and 1078 during the Imperial Investiture Controversy by the order of Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg as a strategic bulwark atop high rock. Gebhard, an ally of Pope Gregory VII and the anti-king Rudolf of Rheinfelden, had three major castles extended to secure the Salzburg archbishopric against the forces of King Henry IV: Hohenwerfen, Hohensalzburg and Petersberg Castle at Friesach in Carinthia. Nevertheless, Gebhard was expelled in 1077 and could not return to Salzburg until 1086, only to die at Hohenwerf.
Village in Berchtesgaden Alps not far from the Hohenwerfen castle
The Hohenwerfen castle was extended in the 12th century and a lesser extent again in the 16th century during the "Bauernkriege", when looting and rioting farmers and miners from the South of Salzburg moved towards the city in 1525 and 1526. More adaptations followed during the 30-years-war between 1608 and 1638. This included the erection of a gunpowder tower during the reign of Prince Archbishop Paris Lodron in 1623. After Bavaria conquered Salzburg in an alley with the Napoleonic France, all cannons had to be delivered to the French troops. After the wars were over, Salzburg was secularised and Europe about to start settling again, the question arose what to do with the now useless - since old-fashioned - Hohenwerfen Fortress. The officials argued about one suggestion to destruct the building or another to use it as a prison.
Prince Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau
Emperor Franz I. of Austria prevented Hohenwerfen from being destroyed, but the Bavarians, who temporarily held Salzburg as part of their territory, neglected the building and left it to decay. The first renovation was done under Austrian rule between 1824 and 1833. Archduke Eugen purchased the castle in 1896. In 1931, large parts of Hohenwerfen were destroyed or seriously damaged in a great fire. It was re-constructed within a year and in 1938, Hohenwerfen became a property of Salzburg province, or the "Gau Salzburg", as it was called during the Nazi-reign.
Beyond its function as a strategic military building, Hohenwerfen has served as a court and prison over centuries. Prominent prisoners were Prince Archbishop Adalbert III., who stayed in the dungeon for 14 days. The governor of Styria was kept prisoner in Hohenwerfen during the Bauernkrieg wars in 1526.
Finally, the most famous prisoner of Hohenwerfen was Prince Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau, who was held here in 1611 before he was transferred to Hohensalzburg Fortress. Until a few decades ago, Hohenwerfen was headquarter for the regional police academy.
"Where Eagles Dare", Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood
Hohenwerfen was used as the castle 'Schloss Adler' in the famous action film 1968 "Where Eagles Dare" (germ. Agenten sterben einsam), starring Richard Burton, Clint Eastwood, and Mary Ure, based on screenplay by Alistair MacLean.
Today the Hohenwerfen castle is the feathered hunters of the province’s falconry centre, the and museum of dashing weaponry.
Text source:, Wikipedia.
Image source:,,, Wiki and blog archive.

Günzburg’s Frauenkirche

The Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche) in Günzburg, Swabia, Bavaria, Germany built in 1735 by Dominikus Zimmermann, who was a German Rococo architect and stuccoist.
Günzburg Frauenkirche, Nonnenempore - the nuns' gallery 
Günzburg Frauenkirche
The Church of Our Lady in Günzburg was renovated in 2002 for a cost of about EUR 5.5 million and is today a Günzburg's showpiece.
Günzburg Frauenkirche Miraculous Image
Photos: Elisabeth Fazel.

Österreichische Parlamentsgebäude, wie "ein griechischer Tempel"

The Parliament building in Vienna, Austria was constructed between 1874 and 1884 as the seat of the Reichsrat, the Imperial Parliament representing the Austrian part of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy.
Austrian Parliament in Vienna
The building is located on the Ringstraße boulevard in the first district Innere Stadt, near Hofburg Palace and the Palace of Justice. Its a beautiful area in close to museum quarter, Volksgarden and Stephen's platz. The architect responsible for its Greek Revival style was Theophil Hansen. Following heavy damage and destruction in World War II, most of the interior has been restored to its original splendour.
Austrian Parliament in Vienna
The parliament building covers over 13,500 square meters, making it one of the largest structures on Ringstraße. It contains over one hundred rooms, the most important of which are the Chambers of the National Council, the Federal Council, and the former Imperial House of Representatives (Abgeordnetenhaus). The building also includes committee rooms, libraries, lobbies, dining rooms, bars and gymnasiums.
The Greek theme is continued with the Athenebrunnen, a monumental fountain in front of the Parliament Building, named after the Greek goddess Pallas Athena - goddess of wisdom - who is portrayed with a colossal statue on top of a fluted column.  Built by Hansen from 1898 to 1902 and it is an imoprtant Viennese tourist attraction.
Source text:,
Photos courtesy Piotr Piekarski.

K.K. Theater an der Burg Wien

The Burgtheater in Vienna, Austria, also known in English as a Imperial Court Theatre and  K.K. Theater an der Burg was built from 1874 to 1888 according to designs by Gottfried Semper and Karl von Hasenauer.
Wien Burgtheater in 2015. Fot. Piotr Piekarski.
Ever since 1776, when Emperor Joseph II founded the Court and National Theater, the institution preceding the present-day Burgtheater, this theater, with its distinguished company, has held a leading position in the dramatic arts of the German-speaking countries. 
"Michaelerplatz altes Burgtheater" by Michael Frankenstein. Fot. 1860-1910  Public Domain.
In September 1922, the Akademietheater on Lisztstraße was affiliated as an additional stage. During the last days of the Second World War, the Burgtheater was extensively damaged by a bombing raid and a fire of unknown origin, and the company took up temporary residence at the Etablissement Ronacher, a variety theatre. In 1955 the company returned to its home on the Ringstraße which had been restored to its former glory and equipped with up-to-date technology.
"Wien Burgtheater um 1900" by Uknown, Public Domain.
For the season 2014/15, the Burgtheater was awarded "Theater of the Year" by the German-language journal "Theater heute".After the Comédie Francaise, the Burgtheater in Vienna is Europe’s second-oldest theatre. Today, the Burgtheater, originally known as the K. K. Hoftheater nächst der Burg, complete with its three affiliated venues – the Akademietheater, Kasino and Vestibül  is one of Europe’s largest theatres and plays a seminal role in the German-speaking theatrical world.
Source text:,

Günzburg eine kleine romantische Stadt in Schwaben

Günzburg is a little romantic city located on the banks of the river Danube, Swabia, Bavaria, South Germany. The city of Günzburg dates back nearly 2000 years and has a population of about 20.000 inhabitants.
Günzburg, city markt and cow tower
Günzburg was founded in about 70 BC by the Romans to defend the borders of their land along the Danube, it was known as Castellum Guntia. After the Romans left in the fifth century, the Alamanni tribe settled there.
Gunzburg, former Austrian military barracks
In 1301 the town became part of the Habsburg house and was developed into the centre of the margraviate of Burgau; for a time it was even the capital of all Further Austria. Very near Günzburg is the site where the "Leipheim Horde" was defeated by the Swabian army in 1525 during the German Peasants' War.

The same site saw the first flight by a Messerschmitt Me 262 in 1942. On the ninth of October, 1805, elements of the Sixth Corps of Napoléon's Grande Armée assaulted Austrian positions in Günzburg. In 1806, through the Franco-Bavarian alliance, Günzburg was integrated into the Kingdom of Bavaria.
Günzburg, the Korczak monument. 
Janusz Korczak, the pen name of Henryk Goldszmit (1878 or 1879 – 1942), was a Polish-Jewish educator, children's author, and pediatrician. After spending many years working as director of an orphanage in Warsaw, he refused freedom and stayed with his orphans when the institution was sent from the Ghetto to the Treblinka extermination camp, during the Grossaktion Warsaw of 1942.
In April 1945, near the end of the WWII, the city of Günzburg was bombed by the allies.
Günzburg is the birthplace of Dr. Josef Mengele /Nickname Angel of Death/, medical officer at Auschwitz. 
Günzburg Frauenkirche
The main historical atraction in Günzburg is the rococo-style church named Frauenkirche, which has been built by Dominikus Zimmermann from 1736 until 1741. In 2002 Legoland built a theme park near the town.
Fot. Elisabeth Fazel.

Der ehemalige Wien: Palais Lanckoroński

The Palais Lanckoroński was a palace in Vienna, Austria, located at Jacquingasse 16-18, in the Landstraße District. It was constructed in 1894-95 for Count Karol Lanckoroński and his family as a personal residence, and it housed the count's enormous art collection. The palace was built in a neo-baroque style. The palace was severely damaged in World War II, and was torn down in the 1960s.
Palais Lanckoroński in Vienna, 1895
Count Karol Lanckoroński (1848 in Vienna - 1933 in Vienna) was a Polish writer, art collector, patron, historian, traveler, and vice-president of the Society for Cultural Protection in his native Galicia. He was one of the wealthiest and most cultivated magnates in Austrian partition of Poland and in the whole of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was a member of the Polish Academy of Learningand also served as chamberlain to emperor Franz Joseph I.
Portrait of Count Karol Lanckoroński and his wife Małgorzata (née Princess Lichnowsky) by Polish painter Jacek Malczewski.
The noble family Lanckoroński assembled a major art collection through the generations, including Italian Renaissance paintings as well as German, French, and Dutch pictures, antique sculptures, bronzes, glass miniatures and porcelain: included antique sculptures, as well as paintings by Tintoretto, Canaletto and Rembrandt. The art collection in the Lanckoroński Palais became one of the largest in Vienna under his stewardship. 
Lanckroński collection: The Scholar at the Lectern (known as The Father of the Jewish Bride), by Rembrandt.
Frequent visitors to the palace were the artists Hans Makart, Viktor Oskar Tilgner, Arnold Böcklin, Kaspar von Zumbusch and Auguste Rodin. Writers and authors such as Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Rainer Maria Rilke also paid visits. After the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Count decided to return to Poland and began to move a large part of his collection to the his family’s ancestral estate in Galicia.
Here stood the Palais Lanckoronski, Vienna, Jacquingasse 16-18. Fot. Piotr Piekarski.
During World War II  the collection of Count Lanckroński have been plundered by the Nazi Germany. Many art objects were brought to Schloss Hohenems in the state of Vorarlberg for safekeeping during World War II. Unfortunately most of the objects brought there fell victim to fire.  The art objects that remained after World War II were sold by the three heirs to the National Gallery, London as well as the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. Some objects were also presented as a gift to Poland by Count Lanckoroński's youngest daughter Countess Karolina Lanckorońska in the 1990s. Items from the Lanckoroński collection can be seen in the Wawel Royal Castle in Kraków and the Royal Castle in Warsaw.
The Royal Castle In Warsaw, Poland
Sell Art Online

The legendary Profesor Countess Karolina Lanckorońska (Gars am Kamp, Lower Austria 1898 — 2002 Rome, Italy) was a famous World War II Polish resistance fighter, prisoner at Ravensbrück concentration camp for women, postwar historian as well as art historian and writer. 
Countess Karolina Lanckorońska before II WW
In 1967 Countess Lanckorońska established the Lanckoroński Foundation, which promotes and supports Polish culture, awarding over a million złotych per annum (US $330,000) for scholarships, publication of learned books, research into Polish archives in countries such as Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine, and similar projects.
Source: Wikipedia and my own.
Photos: public domain except where indicated.