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Eight weird and wonderful Austrian place names

From the famous Fucking to the lesser known Windpassing - and of course Lower Stinky Well - Austria’s countryside is full of weird and wonderful place names.

Eight weird and wonderful Austrian place names
The Austrian town formerly known as Fucking. Photo: JOE KLAMAR / AFP

With some names dating back centuries, Austrian villages and towns have some curious monikers. 

From the famous Fucking to the lesser known Windpassing, Austria’s countryside is full of weird and wonderful place names. 

Many of these barely raise an eyebrow in Austria – although a few certainly do – but they’ve grown famous abroad. 

Here are eight of our favourites. 

Fucking (the village formerly known as)

No list of weird Austrian place names would be complete without the town formerly known as Fucking. 

In late 2020, the Austrian village of Fucking decided to formally change its name to Fugging, citing frustrating at the bizarre notoriety of the town’s name. 

READ MORE: No more F**king: Austrian village to change name

The villagers – who were officially known as Fuckingers – finally grew weary of Fucking.

The villagers have been attempting to change the name for years, reports DPA, and have grown increasingly frustrated with tourists and the theft of signs. 

‘Fugging’ was chosen as it better represents the way the name is pronounced in German. 

Internet users however – and particularly those from the British Isles – have pointed out that Fugging is often used as a censored version of what the town was formerly known as. 

The town had been known as Fucking for more than 1,000 years. 

The village and its subsequent name change might have captured international attention, but there are several other place names worth a mention throughout Austria. 

Rottenegg

Rottenegg, situated in the state of Upper Austria, is named after the now ruined Rottenegg Castle. 

The town’s famous Rottenegg Cultural Summer Program brings people from all around to celebrate the local culture and traditions. 

As with Fucking and a few other place names on the list, Rottenegg is only really funny to English speakers – with the name having nothing to do with spoiled eggs at all in German. 

Rottenegg Castle drawn by M. Vischer in 1674. Photo: Wikicommons

Petting 

Just across the border from Fucking/Fugging in Bavaria in Germany, there is another village called Petting.

OK so this one technically isn’t in Austria, but with Petting sitting so close to Fucking, there was not a chance we wouldn’t mention it. 

As yet, there are no plans to get too hasty and follow Fucking by getting rid of Petting, although if they do ‘Pegging’ is probably off limits. 

Oed

As we said earlier, most of the place names in this list are going to make English speakers chuckle rather than the natives – but at least Oed offers something for the locals. 

Oed, a village near Amstetten in the state of Lower Austria, is a word which translates to bleak, barren, desolate, deserted in German (when it is spelt without the umlaut). 

So in this case, Oed is more likely to elicit a laugh if said rather than written, but think of the poor local holiday home providers who have paid for radio ads telling people to “get on down to barren, bleak, desolate and deserted” for a well-earned break. 

Namlos

In the Austrian state of Tyrol sits a region so mysterious, so enchanted, that it doesn’t even have a name. 

Well, not quite. Namlos – which translates to nameless – is the name of a small municipality in the west of the country. 

So if anyone is telling you they need to recharge their batteries and get away from the hustle and bustle of the modern world by wandering the earth in search of a place with no name, tell them it’s just south of the German border in Tyrol and it’s nice there.

They even have a guesthouse. 

Windpassing

If you thought Rottenegg stank, then wait until you get a load of Windpassing. 

In fact, Windpassing is so popular in Austria that there are actually six villages/regions with that name. 

Five are in the state of Lower Austria, with one in the state of Upper Austria. 

For good measure, the Bavarians have also gotten in on the Windpassing action, with two Windpassings in the Passau region. 

The one pictured below is in Lower Austria – one of the five – and is situated between Vienna and Linz. 

According to Culture Trip, Windpassing is twinned with Middlefart in Denmark, because of course it is. 

Porno

Alright, so this is technically on the Hungarian side of the Austrian border, but with a town named Porno just a stone’s throw from Austrian soil, you and I both know it needed to be on this list. 

Known as ‘Porno’ in German, in Hungarian the town is known as Pornóapáti – which is pronounced Porno Party, which couldn’t be much funnier. 

And if that wasn’t enough, technically, the name translates to Porno Abbey. 

Seeing as you might be reading this at work, we encourage you not to google ‘Porno Hungary’ unless you want an uncomfortable conversation with HR, so we’ve included the link to the town’s Wikipedia entry here. 

Unterstinkenbrunn (Lower Stinking Well)

Another municipality in the state of Lower Austria, Unterstinkenbrunn means Lower Stinking Well in German. 

Unlike most of the other names on this list, this is not an example of a hilarious translation or some outdated name which really means nothing. 

Unterstinkenbrunn gets its name from a smelly well which is right in the middle of the village of 558 people. 

According to Wikipedia, “the water has an inky taste and the exit point is covered over a large area with a red layer of rust”. Delicious. 

If you’re looking for it but have managed to get lost, don’t worry, it’s situated just 15 minutes drive from Oberstinkenbrunn or Upper Stinking Well. 

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CYCLING

Cycling in Austria: 7 rules you can be fined for breaking

The rules of the roads aren’t just for motorists – they apply to cyclists too. To avoid being fined by the police, here’s what you need to know about cycling in Austria.

Cycling in Austria: 7 rules you can be fined for breaking

Cycling is a great way to get around in Austria as it’s environmentally friendly, cheap and healthy. But it’s not without risks, especially when it comes to breaking the rules.

This is because cyclists are subject to the Road Traffic Act and so have to obey road signs, drink driving laws and have the right equipment.

FOR MEMBERS: What you need to know about cycling in Austria

Failure to do so – either by mistake or on purpose – can result in a financial penalty. So here are the main rules to follow when cycling in Austria and how much you can be fined if you break them.

Disclaimer: the details below refer to the Organmandat (an on-the-spot fine). The amount can vary across the different Austrian states, so in most cases the minimum fine has been referenced.

Drink-cycling – €800 to €5,900 fine

Just like with driving, cycling while under the influence of alcohol is not allowed in Austria. So if you are caught over the limit, you will be fined.

In fact, cyclists are only allowed up to 0.4mg of alcohol per litre of breath. If a breathalyser detects more alcohol in your system, you will be fined based on how much you have consumed.

  • From 0.4mg: €800 to €3,700 fine
  • From 0.6mg: €1,200 to €4,400
  • From 0.8mg: €1,600 to €5,900 
  • Refusal to test: €1,600 to €5,900

As well as a fine, cyclists can end up losing a driving licence if caught cycling while drunk. According to the federal government, this is because “riding a bicycle while intoxicated can be an indication of a lack of traffic reliability”. Because of that, authorities may determine that you are no fit to drive and, therefore, revoke your drier’s licence. 

READ ALSO:  Five European cities you can reach from Austria in less than five hours by train

Failure to stop – €50 to €70

Cyclists have to obey traffic lights when riding on the roads in Austria and the fine for going through a red light is at least €70. But it can go up to €726, depending on the situation.

The same applies to ‘STOP’ signs. The fine for failing to stop (as a cyclist) is at least €50, but it can be between €70 and €726.

However, turning right at a red light as a cyclist is now allowed in Austria and will not result in a fine – as long as it does not endanger road safety. 

Not having the right equipment – €20

According to the Bicycle Ordinance in Austria, a cyclist is required by law to have certain equipment, like lights (for cycling in the dark), functioning brakes and reflectors. 

You can be fined €20 for each missing piece of equipment and it’s not unknown in cities like Vienna to be chased down by the police for failing to have lights on at night.

READ NEXT: How to exchange your foreign driving licence for an Austrian one

Cycling on the pavement – €30

In Austria, cyclists are supposed to stay on the road, unless on a designated cycle path. So if you are caught cycling on the pavement, you can expect to pay a €30 fine. 

But if you also endanger pedestrians by cycling on a pavement, then the fine is €50.

Wrong way down a one-way street – €50

One-way street rules apply to all road users, including cyclists. As a result, it will cost you €50 if caught cycling the wrong way down a one-way street.

Cycling in a pedestrian zone – €30

A pedestrian zone is exactly that – an area for people to walk, which means bikes are not allowed. If you are caught cycling in a pedestrian zone in Austria you can expect to pay a fine of at least €30, but it can go up to €70.

Using a phone while cycling – €50

Speaking on the phone while cycling in Austria is only allowed with a hands-free device. The fine for not following this rule is €50. 

Similarly, taking both hands off the handlebars (for any reason) is also forbidden and you can be fined €30 if caught by the police.

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