About our town - History

A - 3601, 630 feet above sea level
Population: 936
1019 mentioned for the first time in a document, town since 1476.

The name "Dürnstein" - in earlier days "Tirnstein" - originates from the rocky area, "dem dürren Stein", where the settlement was founded. Dürnstein has kept its historic character and is regarded as the most romantic place in the Wachau. The villages Oberloiben, Unterloiben and Rothenhof, situated east of Dürnstein - along the road to Krems - have been part of the town since 1971.
During the Middle Ages Dürnstein was an ideal location. The steep rock riverbanks gave protection against floods and left enough space for settlement and fortification. In this narrow part of the valley, road and river can be closed off easily. This was of great importance of the local ruler. The dukes of Babenberg as liege-lords granted Dürnstein and other parts of the Wachau to the Kuenring dynasty, descendants of Bavarian and Saxon nobility.

From December 1192 to March 1193 the English King Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned at Dürnstein.
1231 Rebellion of the Kuenrings against the Babenberg Duke Frederic II. who finally conquered Dürnstein and Aggstein
1289 Parish church "St. Kunigunde" is mentioned for the first time.
1289 Foundation of the order of St. Clara Nunnery
Around 1330 construction of the Roman-Gothic charnel house at the cemetery
In the 13th and 14th centuries the town wall with towers and gates was built
Around 1330 the church of the Order of St. Clara - nunnery was erected
1347 Dürnstein is recorded as town for the first time
1355 The Dürnstein dynasty of the Kuenrings became extinct
1356 The Habsburgs acquired Dürnstein as sovereigns
(Duke Albrecht III. of Austria)
1410 Foundation of the monastery of the Order of St. Augustine ("Augustiner-Chorherren") and erection of the gothic monastery until 1440
1476 Dürnstein receives municipal coat of arms from Emperor Frederic III.
1547 Alteration of the Town Hall in the renaissance style
1571 The order of St. Clara's nunnery was dissolved, the Augustinian monks took over their convent
In the 16th century most of these houses were built, which still determine the character of the town
In the 1630 the New Castle was built
1710-1740 Erection of the baroque monastery
1714 The "Wine Cellar Castle" was built ("Keller-Schlößl")
1788 The Augustinian monastery was dissolved by Emperor Joseph II.
1805 Battle against the French
1850 First free election of the mayor
1909 Opening of the railway-line along the Danube.
1958 The new Wachau road was built with a tunnel, that diverts most of the traffic from the small town.
1986 The baroque Tower of the monastery was restored and painted in the original blue color of the baroque.

Visit also: Themenweg "Löwenherz in Dürnstein - Ein Weg durchs Mittelalter".