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Eastern Austria, as it is defined here, consists mainly of Burgenland and most of Styria (Steiermark). The geography varies from haunting steppes and the mysterious Lake Neusiedl (Neusiedler See) in the east to the low, forested mountains of the south; the industrial valleys of the center and west; and the more rugged mountains of the north, where Austrian skiing began. Culturally, Eastern Austria is strongly influenced by neighboring Hungary and Slovenia, most especially in its earthy and flavorful cuisines. Along with hearty food, the region produces notable wines, many of which never travel beyond the borders.
Burgenland. This region is intriguing both for its many castles and for the natural preserve at Lake Neusiedl, where storks come in the thousands to feed. Music lovers will want to make the pilgrimage to Eisenstadt, where the great composer Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) was in the employ of Prince Esterházy.
Graz & Its Environs. Graz, Austria's second-largest city, headlines one of Europe's best-preserved Renaissance town centers, dating to an era when Graz, not Vienna, was the capital.
Styria. Here you have the chance to visit one of Europe's oldest and still-revered religious pilgrimage sites, at Mariazell. The dramatic onward route northward can be accomplished by rail or road; the latter climbs to above 3,000 feet.
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