Wachau Valley - Austria

The Wachau Valley is a beautiful 24-mile (30km) stretch of the Danube River between the Austrian towns of Krems and Melk. It boasts rolling hills bedecked with forests, castles, vineyards, some of the most famous medieval monasteries in central Europe, as well as ruins from the Stone Age, the Celts, the Romans, and the Hapsburgs. It rivals the Rhine Gorge and consequently is one of the most prominent tourist destinations of Lower Austria. The valley was settled in prehistoric times and along its route you will find the picturesque town of Durnstein, where King Richard the Lion-Heart of England was held captive by Duke Leopold V. The Wachau has been added to the UNESCO list of world heritage sites and is well known for its production of apricots and grapes, both of which are used to produce specialty liquors and wines. Wachau is a source of Austria's most prized dry Rieslings and GrĂ¼ner Veltliners. These wines have great elegance, derived from the steep stony slopes that the vines are planted on next to the Danube.