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The establishment of Weitra as a medieval model town and the oldest brewery town in Austria


In the 11th century the Kuenringer dynasty settled in the Waldviertel. Among them was Hadmar II, a noble minister serving as a civil servant. In 1180 he had a church built along with a settlement. But then, for strategic reasons, he decided to move the location to a nearby granite ridge. The construction of the new castle town began in 1201. It was located around a large triangular space, with the town wall following the contour of the cliff edge and fortified by the castle. By 1208 the fortified town of the Kuenringer dynasty was completed. At that time the Weitra region was a part of the Kingdom of Bohemia. After the battle of Dürnkrut, it was transferred to the Habsburg Principality. In 1321 the ‘little town’ of Weitra turned into a city. This brought with it new responsibilities but also privileges. The right to brew beer became a significant factor for the city. This was connected to home ownership rights, and thus the successive owners were allowed to continue brewing beer.

This way the city could rely on a secure industry, thanks also to the protection of the specific brewing laws: within a range of 7.5 km, the only beer that could be sold was that which was brewed by the citizens of Weitra, thus no beer from the neighbouring area of south Bohemia. Weitra experienced its heyday of brewing in the middle of the 17th century with 33 breweries. The original town houses with brewing rights can still be recognized today by their white panels with green lettering.

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