Burgenland literally means "Land of castles," and fewer place names are more apt, as this area protected nearby Vienna from marauding Turks centuries ago. This is one of Austria's best wine-producing regions - its Heurigens are especially worth visiting. Bird lovers will love Lake Neusiedel and affiliated Seewinkel National Park, especially its storks. Esterházy Palace in Eisenstadt, long associated with Joseph Haydn, is another lovely destination. Rust, an authentic medieval town, has a charming church dedicated to fishermen.
A tour through the wine country of sunny Burgenland is pure pleasure – for oenophiles as well as architecture fans: over the past several years more and more Burgenland vintners have favoured a building style that presents the centuries-old art of viticulture in a modern, aesthetically appealing ambience, thus demonstrating how successful the symbiosis of wine and architecture can be.
Spectacular wineries in a picturesque natural setting:
The Hillinger Winery, for example, charms visitors with its spectacular architectural style but is integrated into its environment in the most literal sense: to take advantage of the earth’s climate, most of the building is buried deep into a slope, which is planted with grapes. The visible part of the structure, with the cube-shaped tasting lounge, rests on slender columns, seeming to virtually hover above the ground. The large panorama window affords views far across the vineyards and the Leitha Mountains. Wherever possible, nature was incorporated into the planning process. For example, natural light for the underground production facility, which is among the most modern in Europe, is supplied by eight pyramid-shaped skylights protruding from the ground.
Many traditional wine estates have not been rebuilt but rather expanded in a very aesthetic manner, such as the Heinrich Winery in Gols. Despite its large dimensions, the wine-production hall gives off an unmistakable feeling of lightness. The structure is also remarkable for a number of well thought-out details: the large overhang of the facility’s roof provides additional open-air storage and work space that is protected from the elements, while the natural transverse ventilation moderates the temperature in the interior.
Delectable wines, impressive architecture, breathtaking views
One must not sample the internationally acclaimed Burgenland wines right at the winery; there are many tempting alternatives – although contemporary architecture remains a constant companion. The cube-like, glass-walled "Mole West", for example, located literally on top of Lake Neusiedl, is completely surrounded by water. One can bask in the warm sun not only on the large terrace but also in the restaurant’s interior, which faces south and can be shaded if necessary through a membrane construction on the outside of the building. From inside as well as out, one enjoys spectacular views across the enormous steppe lake as far as the horizon.