Mauthausen Circular Route
"Mauthausen goes around"
The Pragstein Castle, which was established on a rock island and is separated by a watercourse from the bank, was established by Lasla of Prague in 1491 and can be seen on the coat of arms. The coat of arms shows Pragstein Castle in its original appearance in the municipality colours red-white-blue.
Market since 1335, since 1985 partner municipality of the following European municipalities: Prachatice in Bohemia (CZ), Cogollo del Cengio in Venetia (I)
Altitude: 243.44 m
Area: 13.89 km2
Inhabitants in Sept. 2004: 5.093
Households in Sept. 2004: 2.130
E-mail address: email@example.com
Website: www.mauthausen.at; www.mauthausen.biz; www.mauthausen.info
Mauthausen stands on an old settlement area, which is verified by findings from the Neolithic period.
The importance of the location increased over the centuries, because two trade routes crossed here: The Danube ship route ran along the old Roman Imperial border from west to east. The salt and iron route came from the south, and continued over the Danube ford to the north in the direction of Bohemia and Moravia.
The Babenberg established a toll station here at the end of the 10th century.
The place prospered and soon came to wealth. The customs and goods reloading point were here and Mauthausen received many privileges: an own market regulation, staple right, road obligation and lower jurisdiction.
In 1189, Emperor Friedrich I. Barbarossa had the whole of Mauthausen burnt to the ground, because the toll station insisted on levying the Danube tariff from the crusaders, although the Babenberg Duke Leopold V. had assured them of toll exemption.
The settlement founded here was mentioned with the name "Muthusen" for the first time in 1208. Mauthausen is described as a free market in the "Baumgartenberger Urbar" for the first time in 1335.
Many houses of Mauthausen were destroyed by the Hussites in 1424 – the later religious wars in the 16th and 17th century left their traces.
The market Mauthausen with all its rights was pledged to various pledgees repeatedly, until it finally came to Lasla of Prague in 1490. He had the Pragstein Castle built on a small rock island in the Danube. A firm bridge was constructed over the Danube for first time in 1505.
The peasants' revolts, the Thirty Years' War war and the war with the Turks left traces of devastation in the 16th and 17th century. The favourable location on the Danube resulted in many soldiers passing by.
The most well known guest of Mauthausen was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The, at that time six-year-old, was on his way to Vienna to the court of the Empress Maria Theresia when he stopped in Mauthausen in the company of his family on 5th October 1762.
The French wars at the beginning of 19th century brought strong repressions under which Mauthausen suffered extremely.
The granite quarries replaced the salt trade over time. Many pavements, bridges and foundations in Linz, Vienna and Budapest still remind of this fact up to today. Up to 1.200 stone workers were occupied with quarrying granite in Mauthausen in peak times in the 19th century.
The 20th century brought above all horror and death to the municipality. A prisoner of war camp was located to the east of the municipality during the First World War. The international soldier cemetery still reminds of this fact today.
Mauthausen is also however inseparably connected to the horrors of National Socialism: Approx. 200,000 persons were deported to the concentration camp during the seven years in which the concentration camp Mauthausen (1938 – 1945) and its auxiliary camp existed. Approximately half of them died of the consequences and agonies of the detention or were murdered.
This dock was called Johanneskai in former times. Today's name comes from the property and quarry owner Leopold Heindl. He was also a member of the provincial parliament and mayor of Mauthausen (1870-1909) and thus one of the most respected people in the town.
The ferry memorial stone made of Mauthausen granite in the Heindlkai park continues to remind of the meaning of the ferry. It transported people and goods from one Danube bank to the other. Operations ceased in 1961 after a new bridge over the Danube had been built.
The market municipality organised a symposium with six European sculptors in 1995 on the occasion of 50th anniversary of the liberation of the Mauthausen concentration camp. They created sculptures, which are exhibited in the municipality area of Mauthausen. One of them – a monolith with bicycle – is on the green at the Heindlkai. The hole above the wheel steering bar allows a view of the Danube and of the Enns-Danube confluence.
Lasla of Prague received the right from Emperor Friedrich III in 1491 to build a castle on a rock island near to the bank of the Danube; it was completed around 1506. It was originally a moated castle, surrounded by the Danube. Access was only possible by means of a suspension bridge.
If you regard the external dimensions of the castle exactly, you can see that it is tapered on the west side. This was a great advantage during floods especially in the wintertime, when ice floated on the Danube. The pressure caused by the flood on the castle was reduced and water and ice were lead past the side of the castle.
The Danube arm, which separated the castle from the mainland, was filled in the middle of the 19th century.
Today Pragstein Castle accommodates the local historic museum and the provincial school of music. It also accommodates a pharmacy museum and the Prof. Gerstmayr museum (steel cuts) as well as a hunting trophy collection. The registry office and some meeting rooms are likewise in the castle.
The B3 road passes in between the castle and Danube. It was built the beginning of the Sixties to accommodate the traffic that used to pass through the town.
The flood water level markers are still attached to the north gate of the castle. The coat of arms of Lasla of Prague can be seen at the south side of the Pragstein Castle.
Paving opposite the Pragstein Castle:
You should look at the plaster of the lane opposite the north gate of the castle. They seem to be cut through in the middle. These paving stones were originally on the Salzberg (today Kirchenberg). The gap in the centre of the paving stones gave a foothold to the horses on their steep uphill path.
Johannes Nepomuk statue:
The Johannes Nepomuk statue is in the proximity of the elementary school.
It is said that the queen of Bohemia selected Johannes, who became vicar-general of the diocese Prague in 1398, to be her confessor. King Wenzel IV. wanted to force Johannes to breach the confessional secret. When he refused, he was tortured and thrown into the Vltava. By a miracle – allegedly, the queen had a vision of five stars, which revealed the site of discovery - the dead person was found.
The body was buried in the Prag Veits cathedral and soon revered as a martyr. The bones and the tongue were found to be intact when the grave was opened in 1719. Johannes Nepomuk is considered to be the patron of the confessors, priests, mariners, raftsmen, bridges, millers and of the confessional secret; Johannes Nepomuk also helps in the case of all water dangers and stands for discretion.
The statue of the saint itself has a much-moved history. It was made in 1730 and erected on the Salzplatz as protector of the salt boaters. The statue was assessed as a "worthless concrete casting" in 1941 demolished. However, the married couple Ilsa and Anton Poschacher managed to save it from complete destruction, until it was re-erected at today's location in 1954.
The elementary school, which was built in the style of the period of promoterism is particularly noticeable by the clock in the gables.
Anton Poschacher gave the market municipality Mauthausen the "Froeschl garden" in 1892, so that a new elementary school could be established here. The school was ceremoniously opened after two years. The gable with the clock was demolished after the Second World War. It was re-established during the redevelopment of the attic in 2000 and provided with a new clock.
The building was established 1901 as savings bank building. Nowadays it is the city hall of the market municipality Mauthausen. The old coat of arms of the market municipality with the duke’s hat and striped shield over the Pragstein Castle is well visible on the right side of the house.
The octagonal market well on which the years 1607 and 1716 are marked is located in the centre of the market place. The well was always a popular meeting place of the Mauthausen population.
A basin with drinking water is located on the southern side of the well. The well is still an enticing resting point in the market place.
Plane trees were planted on both sides of the well at the end of the 19th century. The impressive trees - with a trunk circumference of approx. 4 ½ m and a height of approx. 25 m - have been under nature protection since 1984.
The old pillory stands at the eastern end of the market place. This displays the engraved year 1583 and was the symbol of the low jurisdiction in the 16th and 17th century. The pillory was also called the disgrace pillar. Everyone, who had to stand here, had not only to bear the mockery of the entire market but also the disgrace.
Whoever was condemned to the pillory had to account for cheating, theft, brawling or the like. Cantankerous women and gossipers were also condemned to the pillory and chained to it with neck iron and foot chains, so that escaping was almost impossible.
It was taken away around 1800 because this kind of enforcement of sentences was not used any longer. The pillory was set up next to the Heinrichskirche from 1905 to 1936 and was only placed at its current location in 1936.
Markings can be seen on the four sides of the pillory, which refer to the various offences.
Parish church St. Nikolaus:
The parish church St. Nikolaus can be best reached by means of the small or lower church staircase. The staircase with its ornamented beginning stones is particularly worth seeing. You also can enjoy a unique view over the market Mauthausen and the Danube from here.
The entrance to the church is nowadays on the north side.
Exact data from the early period of the church are missing. Remainders of a tower and a high-roman church building were found from the period around 1200 during excavations.
he late gothic church dates from the middle of the 15th century. The baroque remodelling took place in the 17th and 18th century. The altar panels of the famous baroque painter Johann Martin Schmidt, called Kremser Schmidt, were also purchased at this time.
The church tower of the Mauthausen parish church St. Nikolaus, which is visible from afar, was built in the first years of the 20th century. It was decided at that time to attach a neo-Gothic pinnacle in place of the baroque pinnacle.
A new altar and an ambo have adorned the parish church St. Nikolaus since 2001.
A "Light staircase" at the inner south wall reminds of the events in the municipality of Mauthausen during the national socialist period.
There is a round window on the west side with the St. Florianer cross formy, which refers to the affiliation of the parish Mauthausen to the monastery St. Florian.
The octagonal building from the 13th century stands in the midst of the former municipality cemetery. It is dedicated to St. Barbara, who is also the patron of the dying. She was probably represented as a wooden figure or in a painting. The frescoes, which were made around 1260, are noteworthy and were rediscovered in 1907.
Six medallions with pigeons can be seen on the triumphal arch and a medallion with the lamb of God is to be seen on the vertex. There are different interpretations of this: e.g. seven sacraments, seven gifts of the Holy Spirit etc.
The basement served as a ossuary. The bones of the old relinquished graves were bedded in the ossuary, if there was not enough room at the cemetery.
Nowadays the chapel serves as a blessing chapel during funerals.
Kirchenberg – in former times Salzberg:
The salt transport was led over today's Kirchenberg in earlier times. The salt came from the Salzkammergut and was then temporarily stored in Enns and Mauthausen.
The old salt tower, which served as a watchtower, is located on the southwest side approximately in the middle of the Kirchenberg. Horses were used for transport on the steep Salzberg. The paving stones were divided in the middle so that the hooves of the horses could find a hold to prevent the animals from slipping on the smooth paving. This special paving disappeared with increasing motor traffic and was newly laid opposite the Pragstein Castle.
The old salt road is also considered one of the first roads of Austria with a "traffic light regulation"; the traffic was regulated from the salt tower. The salt carts waiting at the foot of the mountain could proceed, if the white flag flew from the tower. They had to stop however, if the red flag was to be seen. This "traffic light" was used until the 17th century.
This house was bought and remodelled by the dentist Dr. Josef Königshofer in 1973. "Schindta castle" can be read in large letters on the eastern side and it shows a self-portrait of the dentist. The name "Schindta castle" is meant to humorously remind entering persons of possible pain during the dental treatment.
The villa was built in 1903 and is still private property.
The Poschacher family is inseparably connected to the market Mauthausen.
Anton Poschacher established the granite works in Mauthausen in 1839. The Poschacher family was firmly integrated into the economic life of the market in the middle of the 19th century. The son Anton took over the largest granite enterprise of the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy with several quarries as a sole owner in 1876. A new economic highlight began in the history of Mauthausen. Many of the well-known buildings of the Ringstrasse in Vienna, the Linz cathedral, representation buildings in the entire monarchy as well as seven Danube bridges were built with Poschacher granite. Anton Poschacher however also created company accommodations, a pension system and further social measures for his workers.
On 26 February 1904 Anton Poschacher inspected the stone barges, which were anchored to the bank of the Danube. He thereby fell into the Danube and drowned. The search for his body was first unsuccessful. A dream the house labourer Wassili indicated where the body was to be found. This was actually found after three days at the location seen in the dream.
Horse stables were accommodated in the house opposite the Heinrichskirche until 200 years ago. The horses were needed as change horses for pulling ships, i.e. they had to pull the ships up the river. If you look into the courtyard, you can see a horse head reminding of the stables.
Emperor Heinrich II. "The Saint" (973-1024) is the founder of the Heinrichskirche according to the legend. Some stairs lead down to the entrance of the Heinrichskirche nowadays, since the Danube bank was raised later. Directly next to the church was a cemetery, in which drowned, washed ashore and "poor" persons were buried. It often happened that sailors drowned in the Danube. Raftsman and sailors had to be nonswimmers for a long time, so that they would not leave their goods in case of danger.
A green is now in place of the former cemetery. The pillory, which can now be seen on the marketplace, stood here from 1905 to 1936.
In 1694 a fishermen found a washed ashore statue of the Virgin Mary in the Enns estuary, which was set up in the Heinrichskirche after its restoration. A place of pilgrimage gradually developed here. The church became the pilgrimage church "Maria Trost". Emperor Karl VI., father of Maria Theresia, attended a mass in the Heinrichskirche on 5 October 1732.
Emperor Joseph II. had the church closed in 1786, because "a mass could also be celebrated in the parish church". The Mauthausen population however protested so vehemently that the church had to be opened in 1787 again!
The Heinrichskirche was also very important for the salt traders. The salt ship jetty was next to the Heinrichskirche in the 18th century. Masses were dedicated to the safe transport of the salt in the beginning of March when the Danube was already ice-free. The church was renowned far over the borders. There were many pilgrimages and processions from Passau to Mauthausen. The Heinrichskirche was one of the the richest churches in the Machland due to the income from the pilgrimages.
The Heinrichskirche was in such a bad condition at the end of the 19th century that the nave was demolished and the gothic sanctuary renovated. Nowadays only the eastern sanctuary of the original building exists.
The worshiped statue of the Virgin Mary was taken to the parish church St. Nikolaus in 1892, where it can still be seen.
River master house:
The late Gothic window frames and the sgraffito paintings of 1562 are worth seeing. The illustration of a gigantic pike, on the southern house front, which allegedly remained ashore after the flood had receded in 1787, is also remarkable.
The river masters were responsible for the Danube ships and responsible for all problems on the water.
Further objects of interest are the granite flood marks. It is noticeable here that there were particularly frequently floods during the winter months. These were more dangerous, since there was also the danger of the ice floes. The ice on the Danube during the winter could severely damage the houses.
The highest water level record dates from 11th July 1954 and the oldest measured water level from 27th January 1682.
The house accommodated the blue pike tavern in former times.
This house likewise belongs to Dr. Josef Königshofer. He bought the former tavern Wedl in 1984, renovated it and completely changed the front. Water and fruit bowl carriers frame the entrance to the present cafe – they are based on figures on the Babenberg cathedral. St. Nikolaus greets the passing Danube ships from the highest position on the front.
Narrowest lane of Mauthausen:
A small, narrow lane leads between the former tavern Wedl and the Lebzelter house up to the Marktstraße. This minute lane is only approx. 70 cm wide and was also an escape route in earlier times in case of rising water. The Mauthausen inhabitants could save their possessions during a flood and did not have to always run along the long dock with all their property.
Lebzelter (Gingerbread) House:
The Lebzelter House is one of the oldest houses of Mauthausen. The broad oriel on the left side and the round oriel at the right side of the house are noteworthy. In the centre of the front above the first floor is a niche with life-size statue of Maria Immaculata.
Gingerbread is old speciality. The same basic ingredients are still used today - honey, rye flour, nuts, fruits and spices. The gingerbread was then baked in artfully carved wooden moulds. There were such moulds for the most different ecclesiastic and lay causes. The mould makers used the everyday way of life as well as faith and superstition of the population for their models.
The honey for production was produced in the gingerbread workshops, the resulting by-product wax was then further processed to candles.
This house ranks likewise among the most beautiful houses of Mauthausen and has an eventful building history. The house originates from in the 15th century and the core is Gothic. The two oriels over the entrance and on the right side of the house are from the Renaissance period. The baroque front was constructed in 1736. The stonemason sign on at the lower side of the windowsill on the eastern side of the house is noteworthy. Only stonemasons were allowed to use such signs after they had been released after their 6-year training. It was a decoration and was conferred by the master. This sign also served for accounting with the clients, since each stonemason applied his personal sign to the stones he had worked on.
The wheel deflector on the right lower house corner is well recognisable Wheel deflectors were attached, in order to force the iron-fitted wheels of the horse and ox carriages away from the house, so that the house walls were not damaged.
The Danube is considered to be the most important European river. With its natural access to the Black Sea and the connection to the North Sea via the Rhine-Main-Danube canal, the economic meaning of the Danube is undisputed.
The marking of the Danube is unique. Kilometre 0 is in the estuary in the Black Sea at the lighthouse of Sulina, ascending counting commences from here. River kilometre 2884, thus the origin of the Danube, lies in Donaueschingen in the Black Forest.
Mauthausen is located at river kilometre 2112,0.