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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
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