Kreuzenstein castle was constructed on the remains of an early medieval castle that had fallen into disrepair and was then demolished during the Thirty Years' War. Intended to be a family vault for the Wilczek family, it was rebuilt in the 19th century by Count Nepomuk Wilczek with money from the family's large Silesian coal mines. Kreuzenstein is interesting in that it was constructed out of sections of medieval structures purchased by the family from all over Europe to form an authentic-looking castle.
The origins of Kreuzenstein, like most castles in Lower Austria, date back to the 12th century. Originally built by the Counts of Formbach (now Vornbach, Bavaria), the castle passed into the possession of the Counts of Wasserburg through marriage. Through Ottokar II of Bohemia, the castle came into the possession of the Habsburgs, in 1278.
In July 1527, the Anabaptist preacher Balthasar Hubmaier was arrested under the pretext of causing riots in Mikulov, Moravia and transferred to Burg Kreuzenstein. He was interrogated there but refused to renounce his beliefs and was burned at the stake in Vienna. Until the Thirty Years War, the castle had never been conquered but then it fell into the hands of the Swedish Field Marshall Lennart Torstensson, who, on his departure in 1645, blew up three parts of the building.
Today the castle is a much-loved tourist destination and museum in the surrounding countryside of Vienna. At one time, a classical concert known as the Burgserenade was held in the great hall of the castle, at the end of June each year. This has been discontinued. Through the year from April to October, a falconry show, known as Adlerwarte Kreuzenstein is held on the estate. The recently renovated Burgtaverne Kreuzenstein is a restaurant, furnished to provide the atmosphere of a medieval tavern.References:
Situated in the basement of Metropol Parasol, Antiquarium is a modern, well-presented archaeological museum with sections of ruins visible through glass partitions, and underfoot along walkways.
These Roman and Moorish remains, dating from the first century BC to the 12th century AD, were discovered when the area was being excavated to build a car park in 2003. It was decided to incorporate them into the new Metropol Parasol development, with huge mushroom-shaped shades covering a market, restaurants and concert space.
There are 11 areas of remains: seven houses with mosaic floors, columns and wells; fish salting vats; and various streets. The best is Casa de la Columna (5th century AD), a large house with pillared patio featuring marble pedestals, surrounded by a wonderful mosaic floor – look out for the laurel wreath (used by emperors to symbolise military victory and glory) and diadem (similar meaning, used by athletes), both popular designs in the latter part of the Roman Empire. You can make out where the triclinium (dining room) was, and its smaller, second patio, the Patio de Oceano.
The symbol of the Antiquarium, the kissing birds, can be seen at the centre of a large mosaic which has been reconstructed on the wall of the museum. The other major mosaic is of Medusa, the god with hair of snakes, laid out on the floor. Look out for the elaborate drinking vessel at the corners of the mosaic floor of Casa de Baco (Bacchus’ house, god of wine).