If walls could talk

The baroque town of Schärding

Bettina Berndorfer, Managing Director of Schärding Tourism Association, gives an her take on the baroque city and its special features. Take a trip back in time to the Middle Ages on the River Inn Cycle Trail, the Tauern Cycle Trail and the Roman Cycle Trail.

Wouldn’t it be good if walls could talk! I would stand for hours on Schärding’s Upper Town Square with all its colourful baroque townhouses and listened to their stories. The bright red house would tell of its first owner and builder: he was a butcher and well-regarded in the town. And that venerable house with its sweeping gable knows a thing or two for certain. The owner was very rich, otherwise the building wouldn’t be so stately: it’s four storeys high and has a bay window and a decorative façade with a round gable so typical of the baroque. And the mighty round entrance is made from expensive Schärding granite. The blue house next door could tell about its past as a bakery. Or the large ochre-yellow one with the sky-blue shutters, which was once the pride of a rich saddler.

All the houses have one thing in common: their builders were extremely wealthy – the silver coins clinked heavily in their pockets. This is what gave the “Silberzeile” (Silver Row) on the north-eastern side of the Upper Town Square its name. In the late Middle Ages the richest merchants of the town lived here. The historical townscape of Schärding is still so lively today that it seems like just a short step back to the Middle Ages. The old houses – most of them baroque – shine like colourful Easter eggs in their freshly restored splendour. The colours of the façades often still match the late medieval guild colours: Red was the colour of butchers, blue that of bakers. Taverns and breweries were green, barracks were yellow and brown indicated a saddler.

Anyone strolling through the narrow alleys and across the colourful, mostly triangular squares – a special feature of Schärding – can easily imagine the lively salt trade that made the city rich. If you can imagine the mediaeval merchants in their doublets excitedly trading on the banks of the River Inn, you can also imagine the hard work of the boatmen on the Inn, who were always thirsty and the reason the town had 14 breweries. You might also be able to hear the clattering of horse hooves, the crunching of wagon wheels or the thundering of the beer barrels as they roll down into the cellars of the taverns. The “bump” sound the barrels made is the reason one inn is still called “zur Bums’n”. Schärding is proud of its lively culinary scene: there are no less than 50 restaurants in a town of just 5,000 inhabitants!

Author: Bettina Berndorfer