The capital and largest city of Lower Austria, Sankt Pölten lies on the Traisen River to the north of the Austrian Alps. It functions as both a municipality and a district within the Mostviertel quarter and is renowned for its ancient city centre and cathedral.
The name Sankt Pölten derives from the 3rd century theologian, Hippolytus of Rome, with the city previously named Sankt Hippolyt, then Sankt Polyt and eventually Sankt Pölten. A Benedictine monastery was founded here in 771, housing the relics of Saint Hippolytus, and was later transformed into an Augustinian canonry. A fire largely destroyed the monastery, and it was rebuilt in its present Baroque style, before being dissolved in 1784 as part of the Josephine Reforms. It has since been home to the Cathedral of Sankt Pölten which is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Amidst the historic architecture of the city centre is the Stadtmuseum Sankt Pölten which exhibits ancient archaeological findings from the region, including Celtic swords, Stone Age shell jewellery and bronze sculptures from the Roman period. Works of art depicting historical scenes from Sankt Pölten are also on show, together with an extensive collection of furniture and architectural designs in the art nouveau style which has left a distinctive mark on the city centre. Other landmarks of note are the Klangturm tower which offers impressive views across the city, as well as the former synagogue which now houses an institute dedicated to the history and culture of Austria’s Jews.
Trains come and go from Sankt Pölten Hauptbahnhof which connects to regional destinations across Austria. It is also served by Wieselbus lines which have frequent services to Vienna and other Lower Austria destinations. Public buses ply the city streets and access most areas, while a free tourist train connects the ancient city centre to the government district during the summer months.
Between the 2nd and 4th centuries, the ancient Roman city of Aelium Cetium existed on the site that is now Sankt Pölten, before later becoming what was known as Treisma. It was not until 1050 that Sankt Pölten officially became a town, eventually replacing Vienna as the capital of Lower Austria in 1986.