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Niederösterreich, or Lower Austria, is one of the nine federal lands constituting Austria. The region is located in the northeastern part of the state, contributing to the state border with Czechia to the north and Slovakia to the east. Niederösterreich also neighbors Burgenland on the southeast, Steiermark or Styria on the south, and Oberösterreich on the west. Lower Austria surrounds Austria's capital city, Vienna, which forms a federal state of its own. Thus, the capital city of Lower Austria is St. Pölten, located in the central part of the region. Niederösterreich is divided by the river Danube into southern and northern halves. The south portion of the territory is mostly hilly, with the predominant mountains of the area being the Vienna Alps. To the north of the Danube is located the Forest District and the Wine District, where one-third of Austria's wine production comes from. The territory of Lower Austria is said to be a significant historical area. With Vienna being the capital city of the Habsburg Monarchy for centuries, the adjacent towns, villages, and land have also seen growth through the years. The region offers a considerable number of historical attractions and castles and is considered to be rich in natural heritage. The area also offers a wide range of summer and winter sports and relaxation destinations.
Niederösterreich, also known as Lower Austria, is the region surrounding Austria's capital, Vienna. The city and the adjacent territory bear historical significance, as Vienna was the capital city of the Habsburg Monarchy throughout most of the Middle Ages. Presumably, for these reasons, Niederösterreich is filled with a considerable number of castles and historic sites. Among the best-preserved castles in the region belongs the Kreuzenstein Castle, with multiple collections of artifacts from the Middle Ages on display inside. Another historical destination within the region is the Schallaburg Castle, built almost a thousand years ago. The castle was renovated approximately 500 years ago in the Renaissance style, which still persists in the area. The exhibition of the castle also includes castle gardens and courtyards. The garden is one of the last Renaissance shooting ranges in Europe. The Franzensburg is another of the multiple castles in Lower Austria. The castle was built in the 19th century as a "garden house in the shape of a Gothic castle vestment." It has been furnished in style to represent the living of fairytale knights and princesses. Thus, some relics can be dated back to the 16th and 17th centuries.
Niederösterreich offers not only historical sights but also diverse natural attractions. Wachau Cultural Landscape is a UNESCO-protected portion of Danube Valley between Melk and Krems. Wachau has a landscape of historical diversity and natural attractiveness. The area has been used for agriculture for centuries. Thus adaptations, which can be seen in the landscape, were necessary as a response to changing climate and market. The area is filled with historic cities intertwined with cycling routes and water attractions such as the river Danube which crosses the region.
The Vienna Alps, often nicknamed as "paradise of views," can be found in the southern part of the region. The Semmering Railway crossing Vienna Alps is considered a milestone in railway history and is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Vienna Alps are reportedly a popular winter destination, as a considerable number of winter resorts are located in the area, providing visitors with skiing and cross-country skiing opportunities. The mountains are also filled with hiking and mountain-cycling routes that are used during the summer months.
Weinviertel, also known as the Wine District, located in the northeastern part of Niederösterreich, is home to approximately 14,000 winegrowers that produce a third of Austrian wine. Tours across the wineries offer degustation of the Austrian wines and sightseeing of the local architecture. One such excursion is the cellar lane tour. The Wine District is intertwined by approximately 1,600 km of wine paths which can be explored by bike.
The name Niederösterreich is composed of two words Nieder meaning Lower, and Österreich, which nowadays translates as Austria. However, the word Österreich can be translated from German as the "eastern realm." The capital city of Niederösterreich is currenlty St. Pölten, located in the central part of the region. The city offers various historic squares, such as Herrenplatz and Rathausplatz, with Baroque and Jugendstil buildings nearby. The city's predominant historic buildings are Rathaus and the Cathedral of Sankt Pölten.
Niederösterreich is located in the easternmost part of Austria, neighboring Czechia and Slovakia. Lower Austria is divided by the river Danube into the northern low-lying and southern mountainous parts. The northern part of the region is composed of the granite plateau, the so-called "Mühlviertel" or "Mill District" in English. The northwestern part of the Mühlviertel is represented by "Waldviertel," or also known as the Forest District. In contrast, the northeastern part of the region, called "Weinviertel," or Wine District, is mainly composed of lower hills with extensive loess soil cover. The state's capital, Vienna, is bordered to the north by the Vienna Woods. The Vienna Basin, Austria's most productive farmland, stretches east of Vienna. To the south of the Danube is located an economically vital part of the region, the Alpine foreland, with relativley productive agriculture. In general, the southern part of Niederösterreich is of mountainous character, as parts of the Central Alps stretch to the territory, with altitudes exceeding 1980 m above sea level. Concerning the region's lakes, Lower Austria is relatively poor in natural lakes. Thus, several artificial reservoirs have been established in the territory. On the other hand, the region has a significant number of caves in its territory. The largest is the Ötscher cave system, approximately 27,003 m long.
Flora in the eastern and western parts of Lower Austria differs significantly. On the east part of the region, south-Siberian-Pontic-Pannonian flora can be found, which stretches there from Siberia through Ukraine, Romania, and Hungary. As a result, many floral species can be found only in the Lower Austria territory. The western part of the area belongs to the Central European floral region. Concerning nature protection, two national parks can be found in the Niederösterreich territory. The Thayatal National Park is located on the country's northern border, stretching to Czechia across the border. Donau-Auen National Park can be found to the east of Vienna and towards the edges of Slovakia. The national park protects one of Europe's most extensive still intact river floodplains. In general, over half of Lower Austria's land is used for agriculture, and over one-third is forested. The main crops cultivated in the area are wheat, rye, corn, barley, potatoes, sugar beets, and fodder beets. Weinviertel (Wine District), together with Danube Gorge, is known for its rather extensive wine production. Fruit is grown in those areas as well.
Lower Austria is one of the warmest regions in Austria, with varied seasons of cool winters and warm summers. The warmest month is July, with an average daily temperature of 25°C, while January is the coldest month, with an average temperature of 1°C. January also tends to be the driest month, with an average of 34 mm of rainfall. On the other hand, July receives the most precipitation, with an average of 94 mm.
Niederösterreich has been inhabited since ancient times. Traces of the human population have been found in Danube Gorge (Wachau), in the southeast, and in the Vienna Basin. In the 2nd century BC, Celtic tribes inhabited the area. Later, the Lower Austrian territory fell under the rule of the Roman Empire as one of the Roman districts, Pannonia. Due to migrations and the decline of the Roman Empire, by the 6th century, the Roman influence on the territory dropped. At that time, Avar and Slavic tribes settled in the Niederösterreich territory.
The history of Niederösterreich during most of its existence is generally very similar to the history of Austria in general. In the center of the Lower Austria territory is the city of Vienna, which was the capital city of the Habsburg Monarchy for centuries. The area of Niederösterreich first came under Habsburg rule in the 13th century, after the Battle of the Marchfeld. One of the most significant conflicts Niederösterreich and Habsburg Monarchy endured during the Middle Ages was the Turkish invasion in the 16th century. The oppression led to severe population decline in the Lower Austria territory. Later, the Habsburg Monarchy connected with Hungary, creating a dual monarchy called Austria-Hungary, which lasted until 1918. After World War I, Niederösterreich became a border region with Czechoslovakia. As a result of the Treaty of Saint-Germain, part of the Lower Austrian land became part of Czechoslovakia. From 1934, the building of the Czechoslovak Wall, which would shield Czechoslovakia from Austria and the National Socialist German Reich, was planned. However, the plan was never been executed. During the Second World War, a number of Czech settlements became part of Austria. The area of Döllersheim was at the time the largest military training area in the German Reich. Several Forced labor camps were established in the territory as well. In 1945, the Soviet Red Army occupied Vienna territory and eastern Austria as well. Soviet occupation troops withdrew from the Austrian territory in 1955 as a result of the Austrian State Treaty.
Nowadays, Niederösterreich, or Lower Austria, is the largest federal state of Austria and the second largest in population. Austria's capital, Vienna, is surrounded by Niederösterreich; however, Vienna is its own federal state. Thus, the capital city of Lower Austria is St. Pölten, located in the central part of the region. Niederösterreich borders Slovakia to the east and Czechia to the north, with a number of Czechs and Slovaks working over the borders. The prevailing religion is Roman Catholicism.
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