Durnstein, Melk and Austria’s Wachau Valley

Emerald Waterways' sleek Emerald Star docked in Durnstein, Austria on the morning of July 16, 2014. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Emerald Waterways’ sleek Emerald Star docked in Durnstein, Austria on the morning of July 16, 2014. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Our Danube Delightsitinerary aboard Emerald WaterwaysEmerald Starwent into Austrian overdrive today as we called on two very small but beautiful towns nestled within the country’s picturesque Wachau Valley.

At 0800, we arrived in Durnstein, a picturesque little village located at Kilometre 2000 of the Danube that is notable for its blue-and-white cathedral and the medieval ruins of Kuenringerburg Fortress that dates back to the 12th Century. Kuenringerburg is rather interesting: it was almost entirely destroyed in 1645 by – of all people – the Swedes, who razed it during the Thirty Years’ War, toasted Skål, and caught the next minstrel-carriage back to Stockholm. Today, you can still hike up to the ruins of the fortress, which held Richard the Lionheart in 1193. Being imprisoned in wine country must have been terrible…

The view of Durnstein from my Panorama Balcony Suite aboard Emerald Star. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

The view of Durnstein from my Panorama Balcony Suite aboard Emerald Star. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Emerald Waterways provides a guided walking tour of Durnstein, which I do recommend taking even though the village itself is quite small and home to just 950 year-round residents. You can walk it yourself, to be sure –but then you’d miss out on the fascinating history of the town.

Richard the Lionheart spent some time in Durstein as an unwilling tourist, imprisoned in the fortress in the upper left. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Richard the Lionheart spent some time in Durnstein as an unwilling tourist, imprisoned in the fortress in the upper left. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Durnstein's medieval history is on display to this day - and also in souvenir form. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Durnstein’s medieval history is on display to this day – and also in souvenir form. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

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