Lunz am See
where the Ois turns into the Ybbs
Three water courses come together here, combining to form the river whose name is an indispensable component of numerous crosswords: the river Ybbs. The small Lunzer See opens up like an emerald-coloured eye lying between imposing forest slopes. As a genuine alpine lake it is of a refreshing clarity, which can be very welcome after the extreme experience of crossing the Dürrenstein massif on a hot summer's day.
The 1,878 m-high Dürrenstein rises up as a powerful limestone summit in the south of the Ybbstal. One is almost tempted to refer to the Dürrenstein as a “universal mountain”, serving a wide variety of interests: it is home to rare species of animals and plants, is marked by an extraordinary richness in caves and karst formations, offers interesting evidence of the last ice age and presents itself moreover as a meteorological rarity. Although the “Grünloch”, a doline on the Dürrenstein high plain, is considered to be the absolute cold pole of central Europe since a temperature of – 52.6ºC was measured there in February 1932, all around is of course much pleasanter. There is good reason to assume that the Lunz people are well-favoured by the sun: this is particularly the case in autumn, when the alpine foothills have long since disappeared under a thick blanket of fog.
The Dürrenstein is predestined for alpine enthusiasts with a feeling for the peculiar beauties of a karst plateau, which apart from a few forest roads on its margins, has been spared of technological development.
North of the Ybbs valley, gently shaped forest hills with heights around 1,000 m predominate, inviting you to refreshing hikes through the cultivated farming landscape. The Kothbergtal is very charming, and the Ahorntal and the Bodingbachtal are also recommended, through which the old and hardly used road link to the alpine foothills leads, a treat for the casual cyclist.
Not far from Lunz am See there is a treasure of mediaeval monastery architecture. The Carthusian monastery of Maria Thron in Gaming was secularised under Emperor Joseph II., and today after careful restoration, is used as a luxury hotel, and in addition serves various cultural and seminar events, such as the “Chopin Festival” that is held every summer.
Next to it, in the Bodingbachtal, can be found the Austrian high temple of Senkobo Buddhism. Is this area perhaps a special breeding ground for spirituality?