Linz Introduction Walking Tour, Linz

Linz Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Linz

The Romans called it Lentia. It was, from its founding, a Roman city. Straddling the River Danube, it connected vital trading routes to Poland, Bohemia and Italy.

In 799 Count Gerald, Prefect of Ostland and Charlemagne's brother-in-law, obtained tenure of Saint Martin's Church with its fortified "castrum." The location is described for the first time as "Linz." In the Carolingan period, Linz was a market and customs center mentioned in the Customs Book of Raffelstetten of 903.

By the 12th century the town under the Castle was transferred from the Lords of Haunsberg to the Babenbergs. In 1205 AD, under the rule of Duke Leopold VI, the Main Square became the city center. Linz had evolved into a city by 1242.

The city became the last refuge of declining Holy Roman Emperor Friedrich III in 1489. He made his last residence in the Castle Linz. He died in 1493. While he lived, the city was named "capital of the Duchy of Austria upstream of the Enns."

French and Bavarian troops occupied the city during the war of the Austrian succession in 1741. Austrian forces eventually drove them out but not before causing a disastrous fire. A repeat catastrophe occurred in the Napoleonic wars.

Industrialization transformed the city by the end of the nineteenth century. A new Cathedral had been built, and an electric tramway was operating. The city was the home town of a notorious figure in history named Adolf Hitler. World War II brought devastating air raids.

In the post war period Linz had become a city of learning and culture. Johannes Kepler University was founded in 1966, the Fine Arts Academy in 1973. The Arts Electronics Center appeared in 1996 and the Lentos Art Museum in 2003. In 2009 Linz was selected as the European capital of culture.

There is much to see in Linz. The restored Castle of Linz and Saint Martin's Church, the Main Square with its towering Holy Trinity column. The early Baroque Town Hall, the New Cathedral and the 16th century Country House patiently await a visit.

Ride the Narrow-Gauge Railway to the top of the hill. Enjoy the incomparable views. Eat a Linzer torte. Come, see and enjoy.
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Linz Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Linz Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: Austria » Linz (See other walking tours in Linz)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 Km or 2 Miles
Author: EmmaS
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Hauptplatz (Main Square)
  • Altes Rathaus (Old City Hall)
  • Trinity Column
  • Linz Castle
  • Martinskirche (St. Martin's Church)
  • Landhaus (Country House)
  • Mariendom (New Cathedral)
  • Landstrasse (Country Street)
  • Ursulinenkirche (Ursuline Church)
  • Alter Dom (Old Cathedral)
Hauptplatz (Main Square)

1) Hauptplatz (Main Square) (must see)

Follow the Land Street (Landstrasse) to the Pigeon Market and arrive at the Main Square (Hauptplatz) of Linz. The square was established in 1230. In the center of the square is the Holy Trinity Column, a towering monument to souls lost in the plagues, wars and disasters.

The square is near the Danube river and it is lined with buildings of historical and architectural interest. The Baroque old city hall dating from 1509 houses the mayor and city council. In the Feichtinger House is Linz's famous glockenspiel which tolls out melodies from Mozart, Hayden and others.

The Kirchmayr House, a Gothic and neo-Baroque building, is a rebuilt 1700s residence. The Carl Spangler Bank is in the Schmidtberger House, a late Gothic courtyard house from the 16th century.

The two neo-classical bridgehead Buildings on the north side of the square connect to the Nibelungen Bridge spanning the Danube. The buildings are symmetrical. They flank the bridge entrance on each side, east and west. Each building has an arcade and a fountain.

The Main Square is the center of Linz. It is a popular shopping center and a venue for events and happenings the year round.
Altes Rathaus (Old City Hall)

2) Altes Rathaus (Old City Hall)

The Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall) is one of the key sights of Linz, located on the east side of Hauptplatz (Main Square).

Like many of the buildings in Linz's Rathausviertel (Town Hall District) and Altstadtviertel (Old Town District), this building has an arcaded courtyard. The Old Town Hall in its current form was designed by Master Christoph after the town fire of 1509. In 1658/1659 it was extended and received today's baroque facade.

During the Anschluss (annexation) of Austria by Nazi Germany in March 1938, Adolf Hitler, greeted with jubilation by locals in the city of his youth, announced from the balcony of the Rathaus the emergence of the so-called Grossdeutsches Reich (Greater German Reich). Thereupon, the German Reich Chancellor gave his first speech on Austrian soil that was frequently disrupted by thunders of applause from the audience below.

Today, the Old Town Hall is the seat of the mayor and the municipal council; it also contains the Tourist Bureau and the Linz Museum for the History of Dentistry.
Trinity Column

3) Trinity Column

In 1716, the pillory, a device used to torture and humiliate offenders and other unfortunates was removed from the Main Square of Linz. It looked like the end of an era in Austrian penology, but no, the pillory was merely moved to the Taubenmarkt to make room for the Trinity Column.

The city of Linz had been lucky in dealing with the fates. It had neatly dodged the last great plague, the Turkish Wars of 1683 and the War of the Spanish Succession of 1704. Foreign invasions had fizzled out and in 1712, a major fire had done the same. The Emperor, the estates and the people were grateful.

A memorial totem was needed and what better place to put it but the Main Square of the thankful city. The Holy Trinity Column was created by Salzburg stonemason Sebastian Stumpfegger as designed by Antonio Beduzzi. It is almost 66 feet (20 meters) high. It is in the Baroque style, made of white Untersberg marble.

On the base of the twisting ornate column, on three sides, there are panels of coats of arms that symbolize the earthly trinity of Emperor, City and estates. The pedestal holds the three plague saints Sebastian, Karl Borromeo, and Florian. On the tippy-top of the column, the gilded Father, Son and Holy Ghost hold sway.

Saint Maria Immaculata stands on a crescent moon on the column, surrounded by playful, ecstatic cherubs. All-in-all, an unforgettable "thank you" monument.
Linz Castle

4) Linz Castle (must see)

In Roman times a "castrum" existed in Linz when Linz was called Lentia. This was more of an armed camp than a castle. The mention of a masonry strongpoint appears during the reign and by the order of Charlemagne in 799, when a deed of gift was made concerning the "Castle in Linz."

Holy Roman Emperor Friedrich III, stripped of his many holdings and titles by his younger sibling, Albert, moved about quite a bit. The aging Friedrich at last found a home in Linz Castle. The castle was completely rebuilt by Friedrich. The remains of its defensive walls and bastions and the Friedrich Gate are visible today.

Friedrich's motto, carved in stone, was expressed in the letters "AEIOU", in Latin. In English, it means "All the World is ruled by Austria." Friedrich died in his castle in 1493.

In the 17th century the castle was remade again by art-loving Rudolf II. In 1600 the fortress was enlarged following the designs of architect Anton Muis. Only the "Rudolf Gate" has survived. During the wars of Napoleon the castle served as a hospital and a prison. From 1851 until 1945 it saw duty as a barracks.

In the period 1953-1963 the castle was rebuilt. The focus was on housing a branch of the Upper Austrian State Museum. The Castle Museum has rich, wide ranging exhibits including paintings by Gustav Klimt, Ego Schiele, Anton Bruckner and Johannes Kepler. Also featured are archeological, scientific, and cultural items.
Martinskirche (St. Martin's Church)

5) Martinskirche (St. Martin's Church)

This is the oldest original church still around in Austria, first mentioned in a "deed of gift" also involving Linz Castle. The deed was granted by Charlemagne, also known as Charles the Great, in 799. The remains of a rectangular building reaching into the nave most likely dates from 788 in the Agilofingian period. More reconstruction took place by the Carolingians after 788.

The main structure of the church was built using debris salvaged from the old Roman structures. The building was redesigned in the 11th century as a bay church. At that time the pillar arches were filled in. Romanesque and Gothic arches date from more recent alterations.

Inside are Roman gravestones from the 3rd century and a furnace from the same time period which is still usable. Gothic windows and portals were added and a presbytery built in the middle ages. In the 15th century frescoes of the Virgin Mary were painted on the north wall. There is also a copy of a painting of Christ. The original is in Lucca, Italy.

Visitors may enter the church only with a guide. Tours are twice a week, on Wednesdays and Sundays. If you are not lucky enough to come on Wednesday or Sunday, you can peek into the church through a glass door.
Landhaus (Country House)

6) Landhaus (Country House) (must see)

Country House is HQ for the government of Upper Austria. The original building was built in 1570. The courtyard is bounded by elegant arcades surrounding a fountain. The fountain is called "Fountain of the Planets" in memory of Johannes Kepler who taught at the Country House School from 1612 to 1626.

The land was acquired by the estates in 1563. Most of the old Minorite Monastery occupied the site on the Kloster Street (Klosterstrasse) and had to be demolished. The architects and builders were Christoph and Hans Canevale. The stonemasons were Caspar Toretto and Peter Guet. The Minorite Church is still in place today.

The Renaissance north portal was built in 1565. It is modeled on the Swiss Gate of the Vienna Imperial Palace. On the parapet of the window are the coats of arms of Upper and lower Austria. The Country House was seriously damaged in 1800 by a fire that started in Linz Castle. The building was reconstructed in 1802 with Classicist facades.

The Country House tower, looming over the entire complex, has an ornately shaped helmet top. The assembly hall of the estates, the "Stone Hall", is furnished with pillars of marble. There is a Brown Room, a Blue Room, the small Club Room, the Gallery Room, the Elisabeth Room, the Green Room and the Government Meeting Room.

In front of the house is the Fadinger Column, the Hessian Monument and the monument to the poet Adalbert Stifter.
Mariendom (New Cathedral)

7) Mariendom (New Cathedral) (must see)

Franz-Josef Rudigier was an ardent "brick and mortar" priest of the 19th century. He would proselytize by building. He laid plans for the largest church in Austria, then and now. Largest, but not the highest. By law it was not allowed to be taller then Saint Stephen's Church in Vienna. The New Cathedral is a mere two meters shorter.

The cornerstone was laid in May, 1862. The ritual was accompanied by a performance of Anton Bruckner's joyful cantata, "Praise the Lord." The building was not officially finished and consecrated until 1924. The honors were done by Bishop Johannes Maria Gfollner. The full name of the church was "Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception."

The plans were drawn by Master Builder Vincenz Statz of Cologne in the French High Gothic style. The Cathedral can seat up to 20,000 souls. It is 130 meters in length and it covers 5,170 square meters of area.

Particular mention should be made of the stained glass windows. The real stand out is the Linz Window, showing the history of Linz. Sponsors' portraits appear in some of the windows. During World War II some windows on the south side of the Cathedral were destroyed. They were replaced with windows showing modern art subjects and styles.

The Nativity Scene in the church crypt with figures by S. Osterrieder is especially noteworthy. The display of the regalia of Venerable Franz-Josef Rudigier also should not be missed.

The New Cathedral is an architectural haven. There is a splendid view of Linz from the spire. Tours of the interior of the church are available, especially tours of the inner gallery. The vast interior is a space of tranquility and composure for busy visitors. Just as the Venerable Franz-Josef imagined it would be.
Landstrasse (Country Street)

8) Landstrasse (Country Street)

The most celebrated street in Linz is Country Street. It is first talked about in the 13th century. Then it was called Lintze aput stratam in German. The country road that went crosstown.

In 1730 the street acquired four sections with names. Inner Suburb to Bethlehem Street (Bethlehemstrasse), Middle Suburb up to Bischof Street (Bischofstrasse), and then of course, Outer Suburb through Long Alley (Langgasse) and New House (Neuhaus) from Long Alley. This changed in 1825 when there was only the inner and outer road to the Carmelite Church on Country Street (it had been there since 1671).

In 1977 the Country Street became the first pedestrianized street in Upper Austria. It is the most popular shopping street in the city. Judging by visitor frequency, it is the most visited street in Austria. It runs south from the Tauben Market (Taubenmarkt) by the Main Square for about a third of a mile to the Westbahn. The Linz tram runs the whole street.

South from the Tauben Market and Mozart Crossing nearly all buildings are retail shops. The Weissenwolft Palace with a shopping arcade dates from 1714. The Winklerbau Freight Building was built by architect Hans Feichtbaur in 1931. Schlagler Stifts House was rebuilt in 1640 from Schlagl Monastery. Lembacher Stifts House is from 1640.

Non-retail establishments include: the Ursuline Church and courtyard; The baroque Manstorff Palace; The Carmelite Church; The Martin Luther Church; the Upper Austrian Regional Library, and; the Music Theater at the People's Garden.
Ursulinenkirche (Ursuline Church)

9) Ursulinenkirche (Ursuline Church) (must see)

The Ursuline Church on Country Street is dedicated to Saint Michael, the Arcangel. It is a Roman Catholic church built in the period 1736 to 1772. It has two towers and a Baroque facade. The church was consecrated in 1757. It was designed by architect Johann Haslinger. The monastery is now the Ursulinehof Cultural Center.

The interior contains ironwork and altarpieces by Bartolomeo Altomomte. The high altar
painting is by Martino Altomonte, probably in 1739. The altar itself is designed by Johann Matthias Kinner and it was erected in 1741. The painting shows Michael with angels Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel.

The 1740 baroque pulpit has reliefs depicting Raphael with Tobias, Jacob's Ladder and the sacrifice of Samson's parents. The pulpit cover shows the four continents as they were known at that time and angels on a globe holding a cross and monstrance.

The organ was built in 1876 by organ master Franz Sales Ehrlich. It was restored in 2006. The organ has 18 registers. Playing and stop actions are mechanical. The church was once the monastery church of the Ursulines. Since its restoration of 1985, it is an art and concert venue and the parish church of the Forum of Saint Severin.
Alter Dom (Old Cathedral)

10) Alter Dom (Old Cathedral) (must see)

The Alter Dom (Old Cathedral), also known as the Ignatiuskirche (Ignatius Church) or the Jesuitenkirche (Jesuit Church), is the former Cathedral of the Diocese of Linz. This single-nave Baroque-style temple, with lateral chapels and galleries and a closed choir, was built between 1669 and 1678 (some say 1683). It was originally consecrated to Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order.

The exact architect is unknown, although some experts attribute the design to Pietro Francesco Carlone in collaboration with Carlo Antonio Carlone. Initially, the cathedral was a Jesuit church. After the Jesuit order was abolished in 1773, the temple stood empty for a while. From 1785 to 1909 it had served as the cathedral of the Diocese of Linz, and has since been called the Alter Dom.

In between 1856 and 1868, the famous Austrian composer Anton Bruckner served here as an organist. Bruckner's organ – gradually adapted to his sound ideas – is an outstanding instrument. Even after moving to Vienna, Bruckner often returned to Linz to improvise on it.

Another notable figure associated with Linz's Old Cathedral is Adolf Hitler. At the age of 15 he underwent a ceremony of Confirmation here and was “anointed with Christ” as a Catholic. Later, Hitler had made a drawing of the Alter Dom, which is preserved to this day.

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 Km or 1 Miles