AT A FIRST glance, my hometown does not seem to have anything to offer to visitors to Austria. Apart from being popular as a trade fair town, it hardly attracts any foreigners. And although it has a long history dating back to even before the Roman Age, Wels does not pop up in any travel guide.
So why would then anyone consider choosing this town over places like Vienna, Salzburg or the Alps?
Let me tell you, there are gems that this town has to offer and which are definitely worth visiting!
The town itself is located in the district of Upper Austria, along the shores of the river Traun. If two persons would start walking from Munich to the East and from Vienna to the West, they would meet in Wels. Being located in the heart of Europe, it connects routes from West to East and North to South, making it a major traffic hub. The ancient Romans already recognised the ideal location of this town and thus gave it Roman city rights, naming the town Municipum Ovilava around AD 120.
Dating back from this time, Wels has been an excavation site for Roman artefacts, which are displayed openly for visitors in the local Roman museum.
The old centre of Wels is designed around the three major locations of the city – the Town Square, the Ring street and the Kaiser-Josef Square (named after Emperor Josef II.) – which run parallel to each other. Lots of cafes, restaurants and shops line these streets and invite locals and visitors to spend a relaxed afternoon. Night crawlers might find their perfect place for dancing or a couple of drinks around Town Square, the hot spot of nightlife in Wels.
At the west entrance of the Town Square, one can find the Ledererturm (Tanners tower) – the architectural town landmark. Built in the 14th century, it is the only of originally four towers left from the Middle Age town walls. Along the left parts of the old town walls, there is the Minoritenkloster located, an old Capuchin monastery. Walking through narrow alleys, one might find the promenade along the stream Mühlbach, inviting visitors for a walk or taking a break under old trees next to the town walls.
At the east entrance of the Town Square, the oldest church and the remains of the former castle can be found. The castle was the place of death of Maximilian I., former Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and patron of the town. Nowadays, a beautiful park with a bronze sculpture depicting the Emperor is located in the castle grounds, being a meeting place for young people especially in mild summer nights.
As mentioned above, Wels has been a popular trade fair town in recent years, hosting international fairs about cars, gardening or horses – Rolling Stones drummer and passionate horse breeder Charlie Watts is a regular visitor of this event.
The town is also nationally renowned for its industry and its developments in the IT and biotechnology sector with two Universities of Applied Sciences researching in these fields.
If you begin to feel fed up with the city, the surrounding regions of Wels provide lots of areas for bike or riding trips as well as traditional country inns (Heurige), serving local cuisine.
The slogan of the town’s image campaign says “Wels hat’s in sich!”, which could be translated as “Wels has it!”. So be welcome and come and find out for yourself!