Grünau im Almtal, Salzkammergut
Grünau is a community in the Almtal valley in Upper Austria and marks the eastern border of the Salzkammergut region. Grünau has approximately 2,000 residents. The Almtal is known as a particularly scenic bit of Austria; it is part of the district of Gmunden in the Traunviertel of Upper Austria. The valley is a "dead end", which is probably the main reason why it has preserved much of the rural tranquillity that was sacrificed to tourism in many other parts of the Salzkammergut.
The Almtal is often perceived as a continuous travel destination and in fact, it makes little sense to limit a visit to Grünau. Other attractions in the Almtal include Schloss Scharnstein with the Austrian crime museum (Kriminalmuseum); for details, please see my article on Schloss Scharnstein. In Grünau, you will find the deer and game enclosure of the Herzog-von-Cumberland-Stiftung, a private foundation derived from the possessions of the Duke of Cumberland. The Almsee is an Alpine lake and part of a nature reserve that makes a good hiking destination.
Grünau is the main town of the Almtal - in fact, the only significant community there, which resulted in an impressive extension of the administrative authority of the municipality: Grünau is 230 square kilometres, and thus the biggest municipalities in all of Upper Austria. As it is often the case with a lot of land, this is an indicator for the sparse population density. Approximately 75 percent of Grünau comprise of forests. Apart from the Almsee, two smaller lakes belong to Grünau: The Kleiner and Großer Ödsee, both of them in a side-branch of the Almtal valley. South of these two lakes you will find the Große Priel, the highest mountain of the Totes Gebirge, a well-known mountain range of the Northern Calciferous Alps.
Sightseeing & Things to do in Grünau & the Almtal
For sightseeing, note the Baroque parish church of Grünau. It was built in 1695 and has a noteworthy altar, which was originally in the monastery of Kremsmünster. That was pretty much it, as the Almtal is famous for nature rather than culture. The "Konrad-Lorenz-Institute" of the University of Vienna is situated in Grünau, as this is the place where Konrad Lorenz spent most of his summers and conducted many of his behavioural experiments. From mid-June to mid-July, traditional brass music is played every Wednesday; this event utilises the echo from the surrounding mountains of Grünau, thus the name: "Echoblasen" ("Echo Blowing").
The history of the Almtal is interlinked with the history of the Benedictine monastery of Kremsmünster. The monastery was founded in 777 by Duke Tassilo III.; when the area was invaded by Hungarians in the 10th century, the monastery got badly battered and lost much of its wealth, including the Almtal. Only in 992, Count Arnold of Lambach returned privileges of using resources in the valley to Kremsmünster. One of his heirs, the saint Adalbero, founded another monastery in 1056: Stift Lambach was endowed with Grünau and the Almtal in 1224.
In 1418, the Almtal was sold to the local noblemen that lived in Schloss Scharnstein, a gentleman called Reinprecht II von Walsee. When his house died out in 1483, the property changed hands a few times until the monastery of Kremsmünster bought it in 1625. Since then and until today, the parish is associated with the monastery. Grünau was occupied repeatedly during the Napoleonic Wars. After 1866, Grünau became the retreat for the exiled King Georg V of Hanover. His descendants still own extensive properties in the Almtal and often spend time there.
Back to: "Upper