Austria / SlovakiaAustria / SlovakiaAustria / SlovakiaAustria / SlovakiaAustria / Slovakia

Austria / Slovakia

Despite being only 90 km long, the section of the Iron Curtain Trail on the Austrian and Slovakian border is well worth visiting thanks to its many attractions and its picturesque riverside routes. The trail includes a visit to the Slovakian capital of Bratislava and the historic Devín Castle, a national monument dating from Roman times.

First, the route runs along the River March. A few kilometres later you will discover the first traces of history at the side of the road: a well-preserved, complex defensive system consisting of some 100 bunkers and fortifications in the alluvial meadows. The Czechs built them in the 1930s as an ultimately futile defence against Hitler’s Germany.

You then come to the delightful nature reserve of Záhorie, where the Trail runs for several dozen kilometres through a mainly flat landscape of alluvial forests and meadows.  You continue through forests, past the picturesque towns of Moravský Svätý Ján and Hohenau, with its ancient fortress that once offered protection against invasion by the Turks.  You also pass a former barracks used by the border troops.  After cycling along the Malolevarsky Canal and the Lakšársky Potok stream you come to the little town of Malé Leváre. Once again, you will find relics of the Second World War: a line of defence with several bunkers was built here on the model of the Maginot Line.

The trail carries on through expanses of forest, and you will still see some concrete roadblocks and tangled barbed wire left over from the past. The next stop is Suchohrad, which was regarded as a “place with no prospects of development” during the period of Communist rule. Consequently no new building or settlement was built there and strangers had to be registered on arrival. The same fate struck Záhorská Ves, the westernmost place in Slovakia, which today looks like an open-air museum of the Communist era.

After Vysoká, where barbed-wire fencing split people’s gardens in two during the Cold War, you pass through the wetlands of the March-Schwemmland nature reserve, one of the most important in Slovakia.  Soon afterwards the River March joins the mighty Danube, which is where Devín Castle, a national monument dating from Roman times, is located on a rocky outcrop. Not far from there, you will find a memorial to the victims of Communist rule. The trail then continues along the Danube, between the slopes of the Carpathian foothills, through the suburbs of Bratislava and to the Austrian-Slovakian border crossing at Petržalka.

Finally, you reach the capital of Bratislava, which is well worth a visit if only for its historic centre. This section of the Iron Curtain Trail ends just beyond Bratislava at the intersection of the borders between Hungary, Austria and Slovakia, which was the site of a large complex of barracks during the Cold War.

  • 93
    Length
    KM
  • 415,000
    population
    of Bratislava
  • 78 m
    the height
    of Devin Castle peak

 

  • Schloss Niederweiden

    The baroque palace "Schloss Niederweiden", used in former times as hunting lodge by the imperial family, nowadays is location of exhibitions.

  • Sandberg, Slovakia

    Sandberg is an important paleontological site. The main asset of the site is large residuum of sandy sediments of the sea which existed in the Vienna Basin in the Tertiary. There are well recognizable layers of sediments of various geological age, many impressive sandstone boulders and cliffs. Paleontological finds of more than 300 species were discovered here. The site is nice place for walking and resting with spectacular views of lowlands of Austria. Though the site is not far from the Iron Curtain Trail, only 750 m on good asphalt streets, be aware it is mostly ascending route.

  • Gate to Freedom Memorial, Slovakia

    More than 400 men and women died on Czechoslovak border to Austria and Germany in period of 1945-1989. The memorial, open in 2005, commemorates their names engraved in the gate’s walls directed from Slovakia to Austria. Its pillars are riddled with bullets (of border guards); however the iron bars are torn out as a symbol of final victory of freedom. Very impressive memorial is located directly on the Iron Curtain Trail under the Devin Castle’s cliff.

  • Memorial of Iron Curtain, Devínska Nová Ves, Slovakia

    The Iron Curtain, a close watched dividing line between free and communist parts of Europe, was place of many personal tragedies. Citizens of communist countries were not allowed to travel to Western Europe at all, not even to leave the country permanently and begin new life in free world. That is why many individuals and families attempted to escape from communist countries illegally through the Iron Curtain, the system of fences and monitored prohibited zones. Unfortunately, border guards didn’t hesitate to open fire so there were many victims. The memorial shows names of 42 victims killed in the region when tried to escape from communist Czechoslovakia. There is also barbed wire fence to symbolize the Iron Curtain. The memorial is located directly on the Iron Curtain Trail under the Cycle Bridge of Freedom, just next to the kids’ playground and the resting point with shelters.

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