Mariazell lies on the border of Styria and Lower Austria at the foot of the Bürgeralpe (1270 m) in the Northern Limestone Alps. The town lies at the crossroads of several valleys, leaving everywhere on smaller or larger passes. The adjacent valley: Salzatal, Walstertal, Grünautal, Aschbachtal, Gollradtal, Erlauftal and Lassingtal.
The date, December 21, 1157, is taken off a document from Pope Adrian IV, still traditionally celebrated as the date of Mariazell’s establishment, even though it cannot be proven historically. In 1344, Mariazell was elevated to the status of market town. The current main square and the three main streets were formed at this time as well.
The object of veneration is an image of the Virgin Mary reputed to work miracles, carved in lime-tree wood. This was brought to the place in 1157, and is now enshrined in a chapel adorned with objects of silver and other costly materials. The large church of which the chapel forms part was erected in 1644 as an expansion of a smaller church built by Louis I, King of Hungary, after a victory over the Turks in 1363.
The traditional pilgrimage routes were integrated into a system called “Pilgrimage Trail 06”, the routes are 1100 km long. The starting points are: from Vienna, Burgenland, Lower Austria, Styria, Upper Austria and Carinthia to Mariazell.