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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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LIVING IN AUSTRIA

EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about retiring in Austria

Retiring to Austria to spend time in fresh alpine air is a dream for many people, but who is actually eligible to retire to the Alpine Republic? Here’s what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about retiring in Austria

People from all over the world can retire to Austria, but unlike some other European countries, Austria does not have a residence permit tailored to retirees.

This means anyone wanting to retire to Austria has to go through the standard immigration channels, with different rules for EU and non-EU citizens.

Here’s what you need to know about retirement in Austria and who is eligible to retire in the Alpine Republic.

FOR MEMBERS: How can British second home owners spend more than 90 days in Austria?

What are the rules for retiring to Austria as an EU citizen?

The process for citizens from EU and EEA countries to retire in Austria is relatively simple due to freedom of movement across the bloc.

There are a few rules though.

To stay in the Austria for longer than three months, retirees will need to be able to support themselves financially (e.g. through a pension) and have sufficient health insurance.

When it comes to accessing a pension from another EU member state, this is typically taken care of by an insurance provider in Austria who will deal with the approval process between the states. Access to public healthcare in Austria is also available to all EU/EEA citizens.

Currently the pension age in Austria is 60 for women and 65 for men. More information about pensions in Austria can be found on the European Commission website.

FOR MEMBERS: Five reasons to retire in Austria

What are the rules for retiring to Austria as a non-EU citizen?

The most popular visa route for non-EU retirees hoping to live out their golden years in the Austrian Alps or the grandeur of Vienna is to apply for a settlement permit

This is issued to people that do not intend to work in Austria and is referred to as “except gainful employment” (Niederlassungsbewilligung – ausgenommen Erwerbstätigkeit) by Austrian immigration.

To qualify for the settlement permit, applicants must prove they have sufficient funds, comprehensive health insurance and a place to live.

Proof of sufficient funds means applicants must have a regular monthly income from a pension, profits from enterprises abroad, income from assets, savings or company shares. 

The minimum amount is €1,030.49 for a single person, or €1,625.71 for married couples or those in a partnership. 

READ ALSO: Baking away solitude: Vienna cafe hopes to unite world’s grandmas

Third-country nationals also have to provide evidence of basic German language skills at Level A1, in line with the Common European Framework of References for Languages. The diploma must be no older than one year when submitted with the application.

However, the application process will be entirely in German so for people that don’t have advanced German language skills, it’s best to hire an English-speaking immigration lawyer.

Additionally, Austria has a social security agreement with several non-EU states, including the UK, Canada and the USA. This allows some people to access their pension directly from Austria, depending on the agreement.

Again, it can be useful to find an English-speaking advisor to help with the bureaucratic part of accessing a pension in Austria if you don’t have strong German language skills.

After five years of living in Austria with a settlement permit, visa holders can then apply for permanent residence.

Want information on pensions? Then check out the following link. 

EXPLAINED: How does the Austrian pension system work?

Useful vocabulary

Retirement – Ruhestand

Pension – Rente

Social insurance – Sozialversicherung

Health insurance – Krankenkasse

Settlement permit – Niederlassungsbewilligung

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