Thursday, May 22, 2008

Vienna - Archaeological Park Carnuntum

Recently we visited the Archaeological Park Carnuntum (very nice website). It is a museum of the Roman Empire sites along the Danube River east of Vienna. Carnuntum was a big city on an important border. There was a civilian city, a military outpost, an amphitheater and other facilities.

You can visit the open air museum in Petronell-Carnuntum, the amphitheater in Petronell and an indoor museum in Bad Deutschaltenburg. Here's a photo of a grave stone along a walkway in Bad Deutschaltenburg.

We took the train from Vienna Mitte (Landstrasse) station. We got off at Petronell-Carnuntum and there was a shuttle bus waiting to take us to the open air museum.

We spent about an hour exploring the museum which is the partly excavated ruins of the civil city. Most interesting for me were the sewers, as the descriptions said, Romans were very interested in good sanitary facilities! It was cool to see the main sewer (about 1800 years old) still in place (though not in use). Also the streets. They have re-built a villa, which was quite interesting.

Then we got on the shuttle bus for a ride to the amphitheater. It's a (much) smaller version of the Colosseum in Rome. It did not take much time and the very nice thing was that the shuttle drive had re-organized his schedule so that he waited there 15-minutes - enough time for a quick look - and then drove on to the indoor museum in Bad Deutschaltenburg. I mention his 15-minute stop because that is his idea, the schedule is for the bus to arrive every hour. So he leaves the open air museum a little early and arrives at the indoor museum a little late. A nice compromise. So, on your way from the train station to the open air museum, be sure to ask your driver when he leaves for the amphitheater.

The indoor museum is really great. There are lots of exhibits with statues and articles from daily life. It has many descriptions in English and you get a good idea of what it must have been like to live in Roman times at the edge of the Empire.

You buy one ticket for all three museums (including the shuttle!). It was 8 Euros for adults. We walked to the railway station in Bad Deutschaltenburg (about 15-minutes) and took the train directly back to Vienna from there.

There is a great restaurant in Bad Deutschaltenburg called Wirtshaus an der Donau (Restaurant on the Danube). Walk towards the Danube from the museum, bear to the left and you can't miss it. We ate outdoors on a nice patio overlooking the river. The restaurant features some Slovakian dishes that were fantastic. We both had Oravska-Placka as a main course. This is pork cooked in a tomato sauce with majoriam and a bit of pepper served inside a potato pancake with sour cream and grated cheese on top.

On a second visit we tried a pirogi-like dish that was also very fine. I had a very nice poppy-seed/sour cherry strudel (Mohn-Weichsel Strudel) and we drank draft Krusovice beer from the Czech Republic (one of my favorite beers). The meal cost about 25 Euros, highly recommended.

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