Duernstein, Lower Austria, town in the district of Krems, alt. 209 m, pop. 1,002, area 16.81 km2, one of the most beautiful places ("pearl") in the Wachau region and important tourist attraction west of Krems, overlooked by fortress ruins. - Duernstein tunnel, landing stage, tourism (51,524 overnight stays), wine and fruit growing (particularly apricots). - In the 12th century toll station, given town status in the early 14th century; a triangular, crenellated wall encloses the town; originally Gothic parish church (former collegiate church) with Augustinian Canons monastery founded in 1410 (closed 1788; today incorporated parish of the Herzogenburg Monastery), Baroque alterations 1715-1733 by J. Munggenast (partly based on drafts by J. Prandtauer and M. Steinl), square west tower (finished 1733) with statues and reliefs by J. Schmidt, splendid gate leading into the outer courtyard of the monastery (probably by Steinl), high-altar painting by C. Haringer, paintings in the 2 centre chapels and impressive ceiling fresco (1775) in the hall of the monastery by M. J. Schmidt. Former convent of the Order of St. Claire (before 1289-1573), today partly restored; of the early-Gothic former parish church (destroyed 1803) only the tower and foundations have been preserved; late-Gothic and Renaissance houses in the town. East of Duernstein in the vineyards, Kellerschloessl mansion (probably by J. Prandtauer); fortress ruins on rocky outlier above the Danube valley, built in the mid-12th century by the Kuenringern, 1645 destroyed by the Swedes, dilapidated. It was here that the English King Richard I (Lionheart) was kept prisoner on his way back from the crusades in 1192/93. According to legend he was found by his minstrel Blondel.
Literature#Oesterr. Staedtebuch, vol. IV, part 1, Die Staedte Niederoesterreichs, 1988.