Wachau World Heritage Site: A Diverse Riverine Landscape

Riedl, Doris; Roetzel, Reinhard; Pöppl, Ronald E.; Sprafke, Tobias (2022). Wachau World Heritage Site: A Diverse Riverine Landscape In: Embleton-Hamann, Christine (ed.) Landscapes and Landforms of Austria. World Geomorphological Landscapes (pp. 163-178). Cham: Springer 10.1007/978-3-030-92815-5_10

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The Wachau is a famous and picturesque riverine landscape along the Danube River in Lower Austria. It is a valley incised into the crystalline rocks of the Bohemian Massif. Middle Miocene (Badenian) sediments in the eastern part between Krems and Spitz indicate a pre-existent fjord-like bay of the Badenian Sea. Fluvial sediments in valleys north of the recent course of the Danube show a different, more northerly course of the Palaeo-Danube in the late Miocene. In the late Pliocene and Pleistocene, the Danube deeply incised into the southeastern margin of the Bohemian Massif along its recent course, presumably triggered by uplift caused by the northward moving Alpine units. Due to the influence of a warm Pannonian climate, the Wachau is suited for wine and apricot production. Since the Middle Ages terraces with simple rock walls, which are now a characteristic feature of the valley, have been constructed for easier cultivation. The Wachau has been inhabited since Palaeolithic times. Several important artefacts like sculptures of women found in Stratzing and Willendorf document the early human habitation that led to a continuous development until today. Along the valley historical buildings from Roman times, the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Baroque can be found. In 2000, the Wachau became a UNESCO World Heritage Site to protect the unique combination of cultural and natural sites. The World Heritage Trail connects the 13 municipalities of the Cultural Landscape Wachau and encompasses 20 ruins and castles, monasteries and the Wachau wine region. Natural hazards threatening the World Heritage Site are mainly floods and rockfalls.

Item Type:

Book Section (Book Chapter)


School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences HAFL
School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences HAFL > Agriculture


Riedl, Doris;
Roetzel, Reinhard;
Pöppl, Ronald E.;
Sprafke, Tobias0000-0003-1198-4482 and
Embleton-Hamann, Christine


D History General and Old World > DB Austria
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GB Physical geography
Q Science > QE Geology




World Geomorphological Landscapes






Tobias Sprafke

Date Deposited:

20 Mar 2024 10:26

Last Modified:

20 Mar 2024 10:26

Publisher DOI:






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