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Small Town Series: Austria

Good Morning!

Here is another installment of the Small Town series. Today's country is Austria. All of these small towns have 50,000 inhabitants or less. I will be covering 8 different towns in today's post. I have included as much as I can about each small town.

Population numbers come from


Dornbirn- 49,278 inhabitants

Dornbirn is a city in the Austrian state of Vorarlberg. It is the administrative centre for the district of Dornbirn, which also includes the town of Hohenems, and the market town Lustenau.

Dornbirn is the largest city in Vorarlberg and the tenth largest city in Austria. It is an important commercial and shopping centre. The earliest evidence of human presence in the Dornbirn area can be dated from the Mesolithic era. The name "Dornbirn" derives from 'torrin puirron', meaning the 'Settlement of Torro' (the name of an Alemannic farmer living there) and thus has nothing to do with "pears" (German "Birnen"), although this fruit is prominently portrayed on the town emblem. This name is mentioned for the first time in 895, in a document from St. Gallen (Switzerland).

Dornbirn became part of the Habsburg Monarchy in 1380. In 1793 it was elevated to a market community. It was not given municipal status until 1901. In 1932 the mountain village of Ebnit was annexed. In 1969 Dornbirn became the seat of the new Dornbirn district administrative authority. The Mohrenbrauerei was founded in Dornbirn in 1834, which makes it the oldest brewery in Vorarlberg that still produces beer.


Feldkirch- 33,420 inhabitants

Feldkirch is a medieval town in the western Austrian state of Vorarlberg, bordering on Switzerland and Liechtenstein. It is the administrative centre of the Feldkirch district. After Dornbirn, it is the second most populous town in Vorarlberg. The westernmost point in Austria lies in Feldkirch on the river Rhine, at the tripoint between Austria, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein.This beautiful medieval town, which remains well preserved to this day, was mentioned as a city for the first time in 1218, after Count Hugo von Montfort built the "Schattenburg", a castle which still is the major landmark of Feldkirch. Other sights in the town include the Gothic-style cathedral of St. Nikolaus.

Feldkirch was the birthplace of Rheticus, and is currently the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Feldkirch. From 1651–1773 and from 1856–1979, Feldkirch was the home of the Jesuit school Stella Matutina. March 1799 saw two clashes between the forces of the First French Republic and the Habsburg Monarchy. On the 7th, Nicolas Oudinot, with 9,000 French soldiers, defeated Friedrich Freiherr von Hotze and his 6,000 Austrians. The Battle of Feldkirch occurred on 23 March, when André Masséna and 12,000 Frenchmen were beaten by Franz Jellacic and a force of 5,500 Austrians.


Baden bei Wien- 26,286 inhabitants

Baden, unofficially distinguished from other Badens as Baden bei Wien (Baden near Vienna), is a spa town in Austria. It serves as the capital of Baden District in the state of Lower Austria. Located about 26 km (16 mi) south of Vienna, the municipality consists of cadastral areas Baden, Braiten, Gamingerhof, Leesdorf, Mitterberg, Rauhenstein, and Weikersdorf. The celebrity of Baden dates back to the days of the Romans, who knew it by the name of Aquae Cetiae or Thermae Pannonicae. Some ruins are still visible. The settlement was mentioned as Padun in a deed from ad 869. The nearby abbey of Heiligenkreuz's Romanesque church was constructed in the 11th century; it subsequently served as the burial place for members of the Babenberg family. The castle Rauheneck was constructed on the right bank of the river at the entrance to the valley in the 12th century; the castle Rauhenstein was built on the opposite bank at the same time. The town received its legal privileges in 1480. Although repeatedly sacked by Hungarians and Turks, it soon flourished again each time.

The town was largely destroyed by a fire in 1812 but was excellently rebuilt in a Biedermeier style according to plans by architect Joseph Kornhäusel, it is therefore sometimes referred to as the "Biedermeierstadt". Archduke Charles, the victor of Aspern, constructed the Château Weilburg at the foot of Rauheneck between 1820 and 1825. In the 19th century, it was connected to the railway running between Vienna and Graz, which led to thousands of Viennese visiting each year to take the waters, including members of the imperial family, who constructed extensive villas nearby. The town boasted a theater, military hospital, and casino. The composer Ludwig van Beethoven stayed a number of times in Baden and his residences still form local tourist spots. The location at Rathausgasse 10 now forms a museum open to the public. Mayerling, a hunting lodge about 4 mi (6.4 km) up the valley, was the site of Crown Prince Rudolf's murder-suicide in 1889. Its primary export in the 19th century were steel razors, which were reckoned of excellent quality.


Amstetten- 23,656

Amstetten is a town in Lower Austria. It is the capital of the Amstetten District and the centre of the historical region Mostviertel (“Most” – cider, “viertel” – a quarter of the province Lower Austria). There are traces of human settlements from the Stone Age and the Bronze Age in the area. The first permanent settlement in the area to be mentioned in written sources was Ulmerfeld, mentioned in 995. The first mention of Amstetten itself is dated to 1111. In 1858, the town was linked to the rest of Austria-Hungary by railroad. Since 1868, it has also been the seat of the local district administration. During World War II, there were two subcamps of the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp in Amstetten. The town was home to Josef Fritzl and Josef Hickersberger.


Lustenau- 22,821 inhabitants

Lustenau is a town in the westernmost Austrian state of Vorarlberg in the district of Dornbirn. It lies on the river Rhine, which forms the border with Switzerland. Lustenau is Vorarlberg's fourth largest town. Until 1830, Lustenau was an independent county ruled over by theCounts of Waldburg-Zeil-Lustenau-Hohenems. After 1830 it became part of Austria. The name Lustenau derives from a document, signed by the Carolingian king Charles the Fat, with the title "Lustenauua curti regali," meaning "Royal Court of Lustenau."


Schwaz- 13,728 inhabitants

Schwaz is a city in the Austrian state of Tyrol. It is the administrative center of the Schwaz district. Schwaz is located in the lower Inn valley. The Counts of Tyrol guarded Schwaz from nearby Burg Freundsberg. At the town's height during the 15th and 16th centuries, it was an important silver mining center, providing mineral wealth for both the Fugger banking family and, through them, for the Austrian emperors. During this period, its population of about 20,000 inhabitants made it the second largest city in the Austrian Empire, after Vienna. Schwaz received its city rights in 1898 by Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria.


Hallstatt- 778 inhabitants

Hallstatt is a small town in the district of Gmunden, in the Austrian state of Upper Austria. Situated between the southwestern shore of Hallstätter See and the steep slopes of the Dachstein massif, the town lies in Salzkammergut region, on the national road linking Salzburg and Graz. Hallstatt is known for its production of salt, dating back to prehistoric times, and gave its name to the Hallstatt culture, the archaeological culture linked to Proto-Celtic and early Celtic people of the Early Iron Age in Europe, c.800–450 BC. Hallstatt is at the core of the "Hallstatt-Dachstein/ Salzkammergut Cultural Landscape" declared as one of the World Heritage Sites in Austria by UNESCO in 1997. It is an area of overtourism. The problems and opportunities of greatly-increased tourism in Hallstatt were covered by The Washington Post in August 2019. Halstatt's tourism began in the 19th century but greatly increased after it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. It became popular among Asian tourists in 2006 when it was featured on a South Korean television show. Social media images of it, captioned "the most Instagrammable town in the world," went viral in Southeast Asia. A replica was planned and then built in China in 2011.

In 2011 tourism estimates were just over 100 per day. In 2020 the town had a population of 780, and estimates of 10,000 to nearly 30,000 tourists per day, primarily via bus tours which bring tourists briefly into the town for photo opportunities, then quickly move on. Hallstatt's economy depends on tourism, but according to locals the day-visitors drive away tourists who would stay longer. Hallstatt became the prime example of overtourism in Austria and led to controversies around limiting the number of tourists. The Austrian Public Broadcasting Organization made multiple documentaries about the situation. The town in 2020 was focusing on "quality" tourism. From fall 2020 there will be assigned time slots for tour buses to cope with the problem. The arrivals will be limited to 54 per day, which is about half of the current number. Buses with an overnight booking in the town will receive preference.


Rattenberg- 400 inhabitants

Rattenberg is a town on the Inn River in the Austrian state of Tyrol near Rattenberg mountain and Innsbruck. With just 400 inhabitants and a surface area of 10 ha, it is the smallest city in the country. Founded in the 14th century, it was built in the literal shadow of Rat Mountain to protect itself from marauders. Maximilian Ihad the original town citadel expanded to a formidable fortress.


There you have it 8 more small towns. I hope you are all staying safe and healthy. Have an awesome day :)


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