Dürnstein is a small town on the Danube
river in the Krems-Land district, in the Austrian state of Lower
Austria. It is one of the most visited tourist destinations in
the Wachau region and also a well-known wine growing area.
Dürnstein was first mentioned in 1192,
when, in the castle above the town, King Richard I of England
was held captive by Leopold V, Duke of Austria after their
dispute during the Third Crusade. Richard the Lionheart had
personally offended Leopold the Virtuous by casting down his
standard from the walls at the Battle of Acre, and the duke
suspected that King Richard ordered the murder of his cousin
Conrad of Montferrat in Jerusalem. In consequence Pope Celestine
III excommunicated Leopold for capturing a fellow crusader. The
duke finally gave the custody of the king to Emperor Henry VI,
who imprisoned Richard at Trifels Castle. Dürnstein Castle was
almost completely destroyed by the troops of the Swedish Empire
under Field Marshal Lennart Torstenson in 1645.
Dürnstein Abbey (Stift Dürnstein) was
established in 1410 by Canons Regular from Třeboň and from 1710
rebuilt in a Baroque style according to plans by Joseph
Munggenast, Jakob Prandtauer and Matthias Steinl. The monastery
was dissolved by order of Emperor Joseph II in 1788 and fell to
the Herzogenburg Priory.