Krems an der Donau, located 70 kilometers southwest of Vienna, is the oldest city in Austria. The wine-producing town is now a cultural and university center, as well as a particularly beautiful destination for a city trip or a short vacation. The city is situated at the end of the Great Krems River where it flows into the Danube and the Wachau Valley stretches around the idyllic city by the water. The city has been appointed a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its authentic cultural landscape.
Krems, the city and its history
Although archaeological findings indicate settlements that existed around the present-day Krems as early as 32,000 years ago, the city itself was first mentioned in a document in 995 AD. However, it is certain that viticulture had already played an important role in the economy in ancient times. In 1305, Krems and the neighboring town of Stein were granted a joint city charter, which led to rapid growth. Viticulture contributed to the city’s wealth, but trade also became increasingly important due to the city’s favorable location on the river.
At the beginning of the 19th century, the construction of the Krems harbor led to the increasing industrialization of the economy. The establishment of the Danube University Krems and the increasing number of cultural events also made the city increasingly attractive to tourists. Today, it is a popular destination for Danube cruises and counts over 290,000 overnight guests per year.
The most beautiful sights in and around Krems
The old town of Krems an der Donau has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. It features charming old streets, churches, monasteries, and part of the original city wall.
Also located in the old town is the Steiner Tor, which is the symbol of the Krems old town and the former city gate. It was renovated in 2005 and is now open to visitors again.
The Piaristenkirche towers over the old town and is sometimes referred to as the counterpart of the St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna. It dates back to the 17th century and was built in the neo-Gothic style. St. Veit, the parish church, is completely in the baroque style.
The Kunsthalle Krems is located in a former tobacco factory and serves as a venue for the Danube Festival. It is primarily dedicated to contemporary art.
In the summer, the Badearena in Krems is a classic family swimming area. Bicycle tours along the Danube are also popular in good weather.
Finally, visitors should definitely stop in at one of the many small wine cellars in and around Krems. The varieties Gruner Veltliner and Riesling are particularly famous. But red Zweigelt is also grown here.
Why to visit Krems an der Donau?
Not only is the city of Krems itself of picturesque beauty, but the surrounding area, characterized by the river and the vineyards, is sure to captivate visitors. There are cultural highlights throughout the year, such as the Wachau Marathon and various wine festivals in the autumn, Christmas markets in the winter, and the Danube Festival, a series of events for contemporary art, from April to May. In addition, there is a variety of culinary delights to be had, as Krems is considered a gourmet paradise.
Despite the diverse offerings, the city never feels overcrowded, and strolling through the old town is as comfortable as taking a walk through the surrounding vineyards.