Neuhofen an der Ybbs
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Neuhofen an der Ybbs

Neuhofen is a small town on the Ybbs River, in the foothills of the Alps. Its centre is occupied by a Gothic church with a tall spire. The town was once a stopping place for pilgrims travelling to nearby Sonntagsberg, whose basilica is the central place of worship for followers of the cult of the Virgin Mary. Today, the Ostarrichi Kulturhof, a museum of Austrian history on the outskirts of the village, is the town’s top attraction. The modern building was erected in 1980 to designs by Ernst Beneder, who also landscaped the surroundings in an attempt to make new and old blend in a single composition. The museum was built in record time, at a cost of 28.8 million shillings, and in 1996 it became the focus of Austria’s 1,000th anniversary celebrations. The most important exhibit, from which the centre has taken its name, is the facsimile of a document which first mentions the term Ostarrichi (the original document is kept in archives in Munich). In this document, dated 1 November 996, Emperor Otto III, ruler of the German Roman Empire, presented the land around Niuvanhof (present-day Neuhofen), known as Ostarrichi in the local language, to Gottschalk, Bishop of Freising in Bavaria. It was the first time that this name was used to describe the land that was controlled by the Babenbergs and which eventually, in the 11th—12th centuries, would become Austria. The Bishops of Freising had owned estates in this district from as early as the 9th century, and they regularly toured their territories. The names “Osterriche” and “Osterland”, which appeared later, referred to the land east of the Enns River. It is fairly likely that originally the name referred to the entire country of Eastern Franconia. With time, Niuvanhof became Neuhofen, and if etymologists are to be believed, the present name of Austria (Osterreich) derives from Ostarrichi. According to the most widely believed interpretation, it meant “eastern territories”, but an alternative view also exists: at the time when the name Ostarrichi first appeared, the area in this part of the Danube valley was still populated by Slav tribes, and the names of many surrounding towns and villages reveal a Slav origin. Ostarrichi, as it was then, could come from the Slav word “ostrik”, meaning a hill. Whichever interpretation is accurate, the year 996 is recognized here as the beginning of Austrian history, and the Neuhofen Museum informatively presents the story of the remarkable rise of a small German duchy to the heights of European power as the multi-ethnic Habsburg empire, and the tangled web of history that eventually, in 1918, led to the creation of the Austrian Republic. It also documents the effects of such changes on the population, and demonstrates how the Austrians succeeded in preserving their national identity in the face of the strength of their German neighbours, a culture in many ways akin to their own. The permanent exhibition in the Kulturhof consists of three parts. The first shows a facsimile of the Ostarrichi document in the original Latin version and in its German translation, together with photographs. The second is devoted to the etymological changes that the term has undergone, its geographical, linguistic and political transformations. The third part of the exhibition is devoted to present-day Austria and its provinces. It illustrates how the distinct areas grew together into the Austrian Republic of today, and how each provinces has managed to preserve its own regional identity, customs, traditions, arts and culture.

Neuhofen an der Ybbs Photo Gallery

Neuhofen an der Ybbs
Neuhofen an der Ybbs: 01 photo Neuhofen an der Ybbs Neuhofen an der Ybbs: 01 photo
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