Durnstein might be a very small town with just 100 or 200 people living in it, but it is full of history. The ruined castle might be the most famous attraction in the city as it is where Richard the Lionheart was held for ransom upon his return from the crusades. We chose to do the active excursion that day which was a guided hike up to the castle. Along the way our guide told us the fable of Richard the Lionheart and how much of the town displays icons associated with the story. One part of the story that is displayed is that his faithful servant traveled around Europe disguised as a minstrel, going castle to castle, looking for Richard. He would sing a verse of a childhood song that Richard knew and wait for Richard to sing back. So the icons of a minstrel and lions are found throughout Durnstein. To move to a more modern Royal tale, Princess Diana is said to have stayed in 5 Star Hotel Schloss Durnstein.
Our hike up to the castle was pretty strenuous but we were rewarded with incredible views of the valley below.
There was also a little bit of humor as we passed by a local plumber’s truck.
Then, we had a wonderful midday sail up the Danube through the beautiful Wachau Valley. This is the wine region of Austria where the slopes along the Danube provide ideal growing conditions for Austrian wine Makers. We sailed past the town of Durnstein which gave us another perspective on this lovely little town.
Another site just outside of town was a monument to Richard the Lionheart and his faithful servant. Something else I learned is that you cannot use the phrase “Lovely little town with church steeple and ruined castle on the hill” to differentiate one town from another along the Danube. That pretty much describes ever little town on the Danube, with every little town looking picture perfect.