Linz is a pleasing Baroque city in the Austrian heartlands. It is a town of industry but also of beauty, art and creativity. Increasingly, Linz is becoming known as a centre of technology and innovation, with gleaming new inventions competing for interest with more historical attractions.
Many people, when they think of Linz, will think of the sweet confection named after the city. The Linzer torte is said to be the oldest cake in the world. The recipe for it was first recorded in 1653. This lattice-topped tart, filled with ground nuts and jam, is often eaten at Christmas time in countries across Europe. It may be a delicious treat, but there is more to this Austrian city than a desert. Linz is a UNESCO listed ‘Creative City’, a ‘City of Media Arts’. This is a thoroughly modern city, looking to the future – ironic that this is a city with so many attractions from the Baroque past.
One historical site that everyone should be sure to make the time to visit is the Schloss, or castle, which was the former residence and royal seat of Friedrich III. It now houses a major museum with a lot of information about the history of the area from Neolithic times to the present day. Linz castle is a perfect example of the ways in which Linz fuses old and new in creative and exciting ways. Linz Castle’s south wing was destroyed when the city suffered a major fire in 1800, and was rebuilt daringly in modern glass and steel when Linz was European City of Culture, alongside Vilnius, Lithuania, in 2009. This bold architecture may not be to everyone’s taste, but it is testament to Linz’s desire to innovate and keep moving forward.
Churches of Linz
For more straightforward and typical of Austrian ecclesiastical architecture is the oldest church in Austria, Saint Martin’s Church. Saint Martin’s Church, located in the vicinity of the castle, was built during the Carolingian period. This is one of several interesting religious buildings in the city, one other of which is the Cathedral of St. Mary, a Catholic cathedral in a Gothic-Revival style.
The Pöstlingberg Church, an important pilgrimage site, is dramatically and picturesquely situated atop the Pöstlingberg hill. This 539 metre high hill on the left side of the Danube is one of Linz’s most popular tourist attractions. There is a mountain tramway that takes you up to the viewing platform and church at the top. There is also the Grotto Railway; families can travel on a mini-train past brightly coloured fairy-tale scenes. There is a fantastic vista from the viewing area down over the city, which adds to the popularity of this destination with visiting families.
Half way up Pöstlingberg you will find Linz Zoo, a collection of over 600 animals which also gives lovely views back over the city. It was established in the 1960s and is popular with young children who will like the animals found here, which include red pandas, meerkats and zebras.
Arguably, however, it is Linz’s modern attractions that give most reason to visit this city rather than any other city in beautiful Austria. This is a city that is not afraid to change, grow, and evolve. There are two modern attractions in this city which are major tourist draws.
First is the avant-garde Lentos, a huge steel and glass temple to modern and contemporary art. This aircraft-hangar-like building houses paintings by, amongst many others, Klimt and Schiele. This is a must-see for those interested in the contemporary art scene and in modern artists of the 20th Century.
Ars Electronica Centre
The second modern attraction is the Ars Electronica Centre, an unusual museum dedicated to technology and science. A number of high-tech, multi-media exhibits will astound you with the latest developments in various fields. Perhaps foremost among these exhibits is the ‘CAVE’, where 3D projections on the walls and floors create a virtual reality environment.
Danube Boat Ride
If you want to escape the modern city and find some respite in nature then you should consider a boat tour on the Danube. There are many tours and cruises to choose from. Why not take a boat ride that allows you to leave Linz behind and explore some of the surrounding countryside?
Alternatively, you could stay in the city and visit the tranquil and lovely botanic garden. This is a wide area of 43,000 metres squared and has over 10,000 types of plant to view and enjoy.
So, while you might enjoy a Linzer torte as you stroll through the Baroque and modern streets of Linz, you will find that there is plenty to see, do and experience in this interesting and creative city.
Linz – the city of cake and creativity by Elizabeth Waddington
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