Scenic Route 210 takes you through the quiet Helenental valley west of Baden to Mayerling—the scene of a tragedy that is still passionately discussed and disputed by the Austrian public, the press, and historians at the slightest provocation. On the snowy evening of January 29, 1889, the 30-year-old Habsburg heir, Crown Prince Rudolf, Emperor Franz Josef's only son, and his 17-year-old mistress, Baroness Marie Vetsera, met a violent and untimely end at the emperor's hunting lodge. Most historians believe it was a suicide pact between two desperate lovers (the pope had refused an annulment to Rudolf's unhappy marriage to Princess Stephanie of Belgium). There are those, however, who feel Rudolf's pro-Hungarian political leanings might be a key to the tragedy. Given information gleaned from private letters that have more recently come to light, it is also possible Rudolf was hopelessly in love with a married woman and killed himself in despair, taking Marie Vetsera with him. The bereaved emperor had the hunting lodge where the suicide took place torn down and replaced with a rather nondescript Carmelite convent. Mayerling remains remote: the village is infrequently signposted.
Elsewhere in Vienna Woods, Lake Neusiedler, and the Danube River
Want to stay at the finest properties when you travel? Check out our annual list of the 100 best hotels in the world.More