Since my OCD-like tendencies during the week mean there are few if any errands to run, or chores to do, on the weekend, we awoke on Sunday to a day replete with options. I tossed a pork roast into the slow cooker (which, amazingly enough, I had to order from Amazon.uk because I was unable to find one anywhere in Vienna. Meat slicers? Everywhere. Rice steamers? You bet. Slow cookers? All I received were blank stares from the store clerks) and off we went.
Wotrubakirche was our first destination. The church, built in the 1970’s, sits atop Georgenberg more or less between the unattractive modern buildings of Vienna’s 23rd District and the beautiful villas that trim the edge of the WienerWald, the Vienna Woods. (During the Third Reich, the church site was used as Wehrmacht barracks.)
Continuing to wander through the scenic WienerWald, before long Burg Liechtenstein came into view. Built in the 12th century, parts of it were destroyed by the Ottomans. The castle holds no special significance other than to impress us as we approached. And impress us it did. I hope that we never cease to enjoy the sight of a real castle!
Journeying back toward home we detoured to Seegrotte, a former gypsum mine in Lower Austria. A blasting accident in 1912 caused 20 million gallons of water to rush into the mine, creating what is now Europe’s largest subterranean lake (6200m2). The mine is no longer operational, except for tours and a boat ride through parts of the lake.
There is more sadness associated with this mine, though, in addition to the lives lost in the accident. During WWII the mine was used by German military forces as an underground aircraft factory; the labor for the factory were the prisoners from a Mauthausen concentration sub-camp located above the mine. The prisoners were, quite literally, worked to death building German’s “secret weapon,” the HE 162 Salamander.