Bad Vöslau near Vienna
Bad Vöslau is a town in Lower Austria (Niederösterreich) about 35 kilometres south of Vienna. It has a population of approximately 11,500, its reputation is the one of a commercial/industrial town with the odd wealthy Viennese who maintains a countryside retreat there. Bad Vöslau is situated in the Industrieviertel area, more precisely in the district of Mödling and just south of the spa town of Baden. Just like its northern neighbour, it is a spa town with hot springs. The area of Bad Vöslau has been populated since Neolithic days, but it was the Romans who discovered the hot spring and utilised it. The first time that Bad Vöslau was mentioned in a written document was in 1136 - back then, it comprised of one castle and one bailey.
This castle was destroyed by the Hungarians under Matthias Corvinus in 1483, but re-built afterwards, when it became an important strategic facility. In the 18th century, the castle was extended, modernised and transformed into a palace: In 1773, all of Vöslau became property of the Family von Fries, high-ranking nobility. They revamped the building, presumably with the help of the court architect Johann Ferdinand von Hetzendorf (he of the Gloriette and Palais Pallavicini in Vienna). Sadly for the Fries family, the dynasty went bankrupt and sold the property.
In 1827, Sir Johann von Geymüller (he of the Geymüller Schlössl in Vienna), who built up some textile company in Bad Vöslau. Throughout the 19th century, Bad Vöslau lived from this industry, only after approximately 1850, spa tourism becomes an additional source of income. That being said, the first spa was already built in 1822 and extended in 1837. The current spa building was completed in 1926. In 1954, Bad Vöslau was officially elevated to the rank of a city. In 1974, the palace/castle Schloss Vöslau was renovated and became the city hall.
Things to See in Bad Vöslau & Surroundings
In terms of sightseeing, concentrate on the city centre for Schloss Vöslau and the spa (Thermalbad). Note that the spring also feeds one of Austria′s most eminent mineral water companies, Vöslauer. The company obviously has a branch in Bad Vöslau. For more local history, see the town museum. The so-called Harzbergturm (the official name is a less crispy "Kaiser Franz Joseph Jubiläumswarte") is a tower and look-out worth seeing. It was built for the 50th jubilee of Emperor Franz Joseph in 1898 and designed by Anton Kainrath. The Harzbergturm is 21 metres high, adding this height to the 466 metre high Harzberg hill.
Note also Schloss Merkenstein, a Historicist, neo-Tudor building. It is based on a countryside manor from 1801. This manor was built for Count Joseph Carl von Dietrichstein (them of the Palais Dietrichstein in Vienna), president of the Imperial and Royal National Bank (k.k. Privilegierte Nationalbank). In the garden, they built historicist follies, such as fake ruins and a look-out tower. Above Schloss Merkenstein, there are the ruins of a castle destroyed by the Turks in 1683.
The manor predating Schloss Merkenstein was sold to Count Joachim Eduard von Münch-Bellinghausen, who had the manor demolished and built the current Historicist building in 1829. It is considered to be Austria′s oldest neo-Tudor building (woo-hoo!). Later, Schloss Merkenstein changed hands a couple of times. After WWII, it was occupied and looted by the Soviets. With the re-establishment of the Austrian independence in 1955, Schloss Merkenstein became public property and was used by the Bundesforste (Federal Forestry Administration). In 2000, it was sold to a private individual, renovated to the standards of 1826 and now serves as a private residence.