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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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CRIME

EXPLAINED: What to do if you experience online abuse in Austria

Following the suicide of an Austrian doctor who received threats from Covid-19 anti-vaccination activists, the government has now launched a new campaign to help victims of online abuse.

EXPLAINED: What to do if you experience online abuse in Austria

The Austrian medical community was left in shock in July when Lisa-Maria Kellermayr, a local doctor in Seewalchen am Attersee in Upper Austria, took her own life following months of online abuse.

Kellermayr, 36, had been targeted by anti-vaccination activists and Covid-19 conspiracy theorists for her out-spoken support of vaccines, and the abuse even included death threats. 

Her death prompted candlelight vigils and demonstrations in Vienna and the tragic story was picked up by news outlets around the world.

READ MORE: How Austria’s attempt to make vaccines mandatory changed the country

This led to calls for tighter laws against online bullying and the ability for perpetrators to be prosecuted in other EU countries – particularly as at least two of the people who are believed to have targeted Kellermayr are based in Germany, according to the Guardian.

The Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) has even called for the creation of a special public prosecutor’s office to deal with “hate-on-the-net”, but this has been rejected by prosecutors and other political parties, as reported by ORF.

Instead, the Federal Justice Department has launched a new information campaign, website and hotline to help people dealing with online abuse.

FOR MEMBERS: What happens if you get arrested in Austria?

What is in the new campaign?

Austria’s Justice Minister Alma Zadic (Greens) said they have launched the campaign to raise awareness about the issue and to inform victims about the support available.

Zadic said: “It is important to me that those affected know that they are not alone in this situation and that the judiciary supports them with free psychological and legal process support.”

“You don’t have to cope alone with the extraordinary burdens that criminal proceedings can entail, for example through confrontation with the perpetrators.”

READ ALSO: Austria in shock over doctor’s suicide following anti-vax abuse

Part of the support package is the new website Hilfe bei Gewalt (Help with Violence), which details how to access help from the authorities, as well as secure free legal advice and representation from a lawyer.

The website states the service is for victims of bullying and/or hate online, defamation, stalking, terrorism, incitement, sexual violence and robbery.

The service is designed to be anonymous with options to contact the Justice Department by phone or via a chat box. The website also lists contact details for regional support services in all provinces across Austria. 

The free (kostenlos) hotline for Hilfe bei Gewalt is 0800 112 112.

Useful links

Hilfe bei Gewalt

Austrian Federal Justice Department

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