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 Hof, Austria

    The splendiferous baroque palace (1725) in the Marchfeld was once the hunting lodge of Prince Eugene of Savoy and is now a Unesco World Heritage Cultural Site. Don´t hesitate to visit this great palace with its huge paradise gardens, restaurant and workshops! Bike locker and a luggage room are available.

  • Sandberg, Slovakia

    Sandberg is an important paleontological site, the main feature of which is a large residuum of sandy sediments left over from a sea that existed in the Vienna Basin in the Tertiary Period. There are clearly recognizable layers of sediments of various geological age and many impressive sandstone boulders and cliffs. Paleontological finds of more than 300 species have been discovered here. The site is nice place for walking and resting with spectacular views of the 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 on the way there.

  • Brücke der Freiheit, Austria

    The "Bridge of Freedom" leading over the March River was finalised in 2012 on the area where there was a bridge and a furt long time ago leading to UNESCO Weltkulturerbe Schloss Hof. The name was selected in purpose to remember the people loosing their lives while trying to escape by traversing the March River.

  • Bratislava, Slovakia

    The Slovakian capital city is located in the South-West corner of the country on the Danube River and the border with Austria. This meant that the city, as part of Czechoslovakia, was literally situated on top of the Iron Curtain for nearly half a century. Thanks to the influence of the diverse ethnic and religious groups that have called the city home over the centuries, including Germans, Slovaks, Hungarians and Jews, Bratislava is a charming multicultural city, ideal either as a start or end point for those wanting to explore this part of the Iron Curtain Trail or as a taste of city life for those on much longer journeys. Photo credit: Jonik

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