Walled Town of Zwettl

The forest clearing in the Waldviertel - a wallflower everyone likes.

917 meters of ancient walls and six towers: Zwettl is one of the towns in Lower Austria still protected today by historical town walls. A stroll along them sets you off on a fascinating journey. On the way, you encounter history, tradition, 300 years of brewing expertise and a host of experiences. Just beyond the place where the town gates once stood long ago is a paradise for cyclists and hikers. What else could you ask for?

Behind the town walls

Zwettl is a name of Slavic origin and means a forest clearing or an area cleared of trees. However, there is no known Slavic legacies or settlements here other than the interpretation of this name. The Kuenring family founded the town in 1139. In the Battle of Zwettl in 1427, it was besieged three times by the Hussites under their commander Andreas Prokop but never taken – the nearby abbey, however, was plundered. Zwettl suffered severely during the Thirty Years’ War, at the hands of the Bohemians (in 1618) and the Swedes (in 1645). The municipality of Zwettl was established in 1850. The point at which traffic flows into the city today was the site until 1868 of the Weitra Gate integrated in its own gate tower. On July 4, 1896, the local Schwarzenau-Zwettl rail line opened up and around the turn of the century, the town wall was razed as far as today’s Berggasse. The municipality of Zwettl-Lower Austria in its current form came into being in 1971 when 13 smaller municipalities were merged together. In August 2002, heavy rainfalls caused disastrous flooding that resulted in major damage. This is the most catastrophic flood ever recorded in the town’s more than 800-year history. Zwettl covers an area of 256 km², making it one of the largest municipalities in Austria.

Invaluable witnesses to the past

A tower (“Antonturm”) on the northwestern corner of the town wall has become the landmark of Zwettl, Town of the Kuenrings. It is readily recognizable with its irregular seven-sided floor-plan and also its four-story tower, the highest one still preserved. It is a stately structure, right on the steep banks of the Zwettl River. Another tower (“Schulturm”) houses the natural history collection of Gustav Schneider consisting of hundreds of mounted exotic animals. What else lies hidden behind these ancient walls? From the old town hall to the modern artwork of Leslie de Melo – Zwettl offers variety and flair for plenty of fun and fascinating moments. There are many guided tours to choose from – check them out and stay awhile!

300 years of brewing expertise

Waldviertel hops and premium malt from Waldviertel malting barley have been the ingredients Privatbrauerei Zwettl has relied on since 1708. Drawing on its powers of innovation and a 300-year brewing tradition, this private brewery delivers a delightfully frothy taste experience every time. Tip: The Zwettl beer experience. Be prepared to become an avid fan of the local brews!

Zwettl town-and-country experience

The Water Wonders Trail No. 55a is a linear hiking trail that bears the Austrian quality mark for hiking and begins in the heart of Zwettl. You can set off from the Hundertwasser Fountain for a hike in the scenic Kamp Valley. Or just hop on your bicycle or mountain bike and pedal away – the Zwettl region is freedom on two wheels for the whole family. If you are more in the mood for culture, explore the nearby Cistercian Abbey of Zwettl. Off you go!