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Pöstlingberg

The most popular day trip from Linz is to Pöstlingberg, 5km (3 miles) northwest of the city on the north bank of the Danube. You can drive here via Rudolfstrasse on the left bank of the river, taking a right turn onto Hagenstrasse; or, you can take the electric railway.

Pöstlingberg has a botanical garden with exotic tropical plants, and the summit terrace is a riot of blooming flowers in summer. A defensive tower now houses a grotto with a miniature railway, a favorite with children. The pilgrimage church is worth a visit for its 18th-century carved wood Pietà, but most tourists make the ascent mainly to take in the view over the Danube Valley, with Linz spread out below. The panorama stretches all the way to the foothills of the Alps and to the Bohemian Forest in the Czech Republic.

Mauthausen: The Concentration Camp

You can make a sobering outing from Linz to Mauthausen, 29km (18 miles) down the Danube (southeast) from the provincial capital. The village is very beautiful in its own right and is often visited for its medieval architecture. Overshadowing its attractiveness is the fact that during World War II, the Nazis operated a concentration camp and extermination center about 3km (2 miles) northwest of the village. Austria's Jews were slaughtered in great numbers, and the camp remains a horrifying testament to the evils of Nazism. Thousands of other so-called undesirables were also annihilated here, including homosexuals and Gypsies.

The Austrian government doesn't try to hide the site of so many atrocities. The camp was declared a national monument in 1949, and often schoolchildren are brought here and taught what went on in this notorious camp. Various countries that lost citizens here have erected memorials outside the camp to honor their dead. It's believed that the Nazis killed some 200,000 victims here, although exact figures are not known.

You can visit the huts where the condemned, most of whom almost surely knew their fate, were kept. You are also led down the infamous "Stairway of Death," which the prisoners took on their last walk. To visit the ghastly site is a shattering experience, but still people come here to be painfully reminded of a cruel and savage era.

To reach Mauthausen from Linz, take one of the dozen or so local buses departing from Linz's main railway station for Mauthausen (trip time: 1 hr.).

It takes about 1 1/2 hours to take a tour of the camp. The camp is open February to April and October to December 15 daily 9am to 4pm, and May to October daily 9am to 6pm; it's closed November to January. For more information, call tel. 07238/2269. Admission is 3€ ($4.80) for adults and 1€ ($1.60) for children.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.