Whilst staying in the Salzkammergut, Austria’s wonderful ‘Lake District’, you should definitely not miss out on a chance to visit Mondsee, both the name of the town and indeed, one of the 76 magical lakes here.
One of the most popular attractions in Mondsee has to be the medieval Mondsee Abbey – the St Michael Basilica, which also happens to be the most photographed church in the world, due to its fame as the site of the marriage of Maria and Baron Georgg Von Trapp in the Sound of Music. The Basilica, a former monastery founded in 748 stands proudly in the lovely market square of Mondsee, its two towers stretching 52 metres in to the sky. Inside= boasts a wonderful pulpit, seven famous baroque altars and various other examples of similarly splendid baroque furniture. Now, you’ll see many travel especially, to walk down the central aisle, as Ms Andrews did 50 years ago, and again this March when she made her very first visit back to Mondsee since 1965!
Immediately next to the church is the ‘Pfahlbaumuseum’, the Mondseeland museum, which houses marvellous displays of artefacts dating back to the Stone Age. Other interesting museums in Mondsee include the Mondsee Salzkamergut Local Railway Museum which has displays of narrow gauge railways and also the Rauchhaus, or ‘smoke house’ which operates as an ‘open air museum’ demonstrating countryside life from years gone by.
Away from the square is the colourful main street of Mondsee, together with the ‘Rathaus’, town hall and several restaurants, bakeries and cafes, all with arrangements of pretty outdoor tables and chairs which lure you in for an obligatory ‘cafe und kuchen’ – my personal downfall is delicious hot apfel strudel with vanilla sauce! Choose from any of the cafe-konditorei establishments such as ‘Braun’, ‘Fraueschuh and Obauer and remember that when you see the word ‘konditorei’ you are guaranteed fresh, home-baked culinary delights!
A stroll along the side of a boulevard of beech trees will set you in the direction of the ‘moon’ shaped Mondsee. En route you can test your body with the 5 pillars of Kneipp therapy – short, physical tests for the body and for health wellness, brought to us by the learned Sebastian Kneipp, whose wise philosophy dates back to the late 1800’s.
There is much to do and see once you arrive at the lake – your initial thought might be to go for a ‘dip’…this indeed would be a most pleasant one, as Mondsee is one of the warmest lakes of the region, around 27c, hence it’s popularity with all the water sports you can imagine! You can also enjoy a midday trip across the lake, or even a romantic sunset boat cruise.
The lake here never stops and there are weekly ski shows, sailing boat regattas, swimming events and on July 25th there is the ‘Dirndl Flug Tag’, when those dressed in the national dress enjoy the pleasure of throwing themselves off a jetty, at a lofty height, in to the water. Never fear though gents, this sport is not just for the ladies! It’s for anyone… but you really do have to be wearing a dirndl.
If sitting and watching the world go by is more of your thing, then there are a profusion of benches to sit back and enjoy the natural beauty of the crystal clear waters. Across the lake you have fabulous views of the Drachenwand (Dragon’s wall) which is a vast and distinctive landmark of bare rock which attracts courageous climbers from all over.
During the summer months the town regularly hosts a splendid artisan crafts market which boasts an array of locally made products made from materials such as cloth, wood, ceramic and glass. Once you have enjoyed the delights of the lakeside, you can stroll back in to the town, or if your legs refuse to do so, you can take a seat on the little ‘noddy’ train, and let it ‘chug’ you back!
As with all of Ingham’s holiday resorts and day excursions in Austria, a visit to majestic Mondsee is highly recommended and should be right up there on the to do list!
Words and images by Julie Barber, Resort Representative in Fuschl.