There’s nothing like a good story…and legends are the best kind of story. Legends abound along the picturesque Wachau Valley, Lower Austria. As our Viking Riverboat cruised the Danube River, the landscape was dotted with castles overlooking small hamlets where legends have been passed down for generations.
The Ghost of Hinterhaus Castle:
Hinterhaus Castle close to the village of Spitz
As the legend goes…Henry the Iron was married to Adelheid. While giving birth to one of their children in Hinterhaus Castle, she died in childbirth. The unwritten law was that a husband should wait one year before re-marrying.
The town of Spitz
But, Henry became smitten with a beautiful young girl in the village of Spitz (just down the hill from the castle). He decided he didn’t want to wait a year before marrying her. Shortly after their marriage, Henry died. His sudden death was attributed to the fact that he disobeyed the law and didn’t wait a year.
The window where Adelheid’s ghost can be seen screaming on the anniversary of her husband’s death.
Now, every year on the day of Henry’s death, the ghost of Adelheid can be heard screaming from the window.
Imprisonment of Richard the Lionhart
The town of Durnstein. The castle is on the left indicated with a red oval.
In the 12th century there was a feud between Duke Leopold V of the Babenberg Court over Richard the Lionhart for throwing the Austrian flag into manure. Leopold vowed revenge. Richard grew a beard to disguise himself on his return from the Crusades, but then he made a tactical error. He paid for his drink in an Austrian inn in Endberg near Vienna with an English coin. Of course, the coin had his picture on one side, he was recognized and put in prison in Durnstein.
The castle is now in ruins.
In an effort to find where Richard was being held, one of his minstrels knew a song that only Richard would know the words to.
The modern statue depicting Richard the Lionhart sitting on a horse and the minstrel who sang a song only Richard would know the words to, in order to find him.
He traveled around the countryside singing the song. At Durnstein, when he got to the chorus, he heard Richard singing. Richard was sprung from captivity and was able to return to England.
The seven rabbits of St. Michael’s Church
St. Michael’s Church in Wehrkirche, built around 956, has seven stone rabbits along the roof.
Front of St. Michael’s Church in Wehrkirche
Legend says that these rabbits lived on the mountain side. One day the snowfall was so severe that the gap was filled between the mountain and the roof of the church. When the snow melted, the rabbits were stranded on the roof of the church with no way to get back to the their mountain home.
The seven rabbits on the roof of St. Michael’s Church
Mother Nature felt sorry for the stranded rabbits and turned them into stone so they could remain on the roof forever.
The Wachau Valley is such a magical area. These legends seem to merely enhance its beauty.
About the Author:
Annie and Bruce acting silly on a hammock near the boat.
In 2010, Annie Coburn created Fab Placez. In 2014, she changed the name of her website to FAB Senior Travel to better define her target audience, mature travelers. In order to provide diversity of locations and topics for her subscribers, she publishes travel articles from other writers, as well as her own.