Austria / Slovakia Austria / Slovakia Austria / Slovakia Austria / Slovakia Austria / 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

 

  • Gate to Freedom Memorial, Slovakia

    More than 400 men and women died along Czechoslovak's borders with Austria and Germany between 1945-1989. This memorial, opened in 2005, commemorates this victims with their names engraved in the gate’s walls. Its pillars are riddled with bullets (of border guards); however the iron bars are broken as a symbol of the final victory of freedom. This very impressive memorial is located directly on the Iron Curtain Trail under Devin Castle’s cliff. Photo credit: weepingredorger

  • Devin castle, Slovakia

    Devin Castle’s ruins are located high above Devín, one of Bratislava's suburbs. Its strategic location - on a cliff over the confluence of the Danube and Morava rivers - meant that it has been an important lookout point for centuries, protecting the western frontier of the Hungarian Kingdom. The castle was destroyed in 1809 by the retreating army of Napoleon. It is a often used as a symbol of Slovakia and has been glorified by some popular Slovak romantic poets. Visitors can relax in the castle park, visit the museum inside the ruins and enjoy the wide view of the Danube River and beyond into Austria. Photo credit: Bart van Poll

  • Memorial of Iron Curtain, Devínska Nová Ves, Slovakia

    The Iron Curtain, a closely watched dividing line between free and communist parts of Europe, was the place of many personal tragedies. Citizens of communist countries were not allowed to travel to Western Europe at all, so many individuals and families attempted to escape illegally through the Iron Curtain. Unfortunately, border guards didn’t hesitate to open fire so there were many victims. This memorial shows the names of 42 victims killed in the region when trying to escape from communist Czechoslovakia. There is also barbed wire fence to symbolise 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 a resting point with shelters.

  • 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.

  • Certified EuroVelo Route
  • Developed route with EuroVelo signs
  • Developed route
  • Route under development
  • Route at the planning stage

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The stages