Our journey from Ybbs in Lower Austria to Mariazell begins at the power plant Ybbs-Persenbeug.
The run-of-the-river hydroelectricity plant is the oldest of the Austrian Danube power plants and was put into operation in 1959.
On a rock next door you can see Persenbeug Castle, the birthplace of the last Emperor of Austria, Charles I .
We drive south. In the valley of the river Erlauf we arrive at Scheibbs, a small town with a medieval character.
Scheibbs was the secular administration center of the monastic dominion of Gaming Charterhouse.
In the 16th century, the region experienced an economic upswing by the privilege to supply the miners at the Erzberg (ore mountain) with food. Here begins one of the Eisenstraßen (iron trade roads). Through the Eisenwurzen, as the region is called, it leads to the Erzberg in Styria.
Hammer mills, small iron processing enterprises, were built along the street. In the 19th Century, this development led to the settlement of the most significant and most modern iron works and sheet metal works in the Imperial and Royal Monarchy.
1332, Duke Albrecht II of Austria, grandson of Rudolf I the Roman-German king and ancestor of the Habsburg Empire, founded the Gaming Charterhouse, which was temporarily the largest Carthusian monastery in Europe and acquired special significance when Albrecht II. relocated his family tomb from Königsfelden Abbey in the Argovia, to strengthen his territorial lordship.
He, his wife Joanna of Pfirt and his daughter Elisabeth of Luxembourg are buried in Gaming. 1797, the Charterhouse was rescinded and fell under Joseph II. Since 1983, it was renovated by architect Walter Hildebrand and now houses some branches of various universities.
The pre-Alpine landscape is dominated by Oetscher. At its foot lies the crystal clear mountain lake called Erlaufsee. The region is a popular winter sports area.
The Natur Park Oetscher-Tormäuer and Wildalpener Salzatal are among the most pristine landscapes in Austria. The last great virgin forest of Central Europe served once as a hunting ground for the Rothschild Family.
Mariazell, Styria, in the far north, is the most important place of pilgrimage in Austria. The statue of “Magna Mater Austriae” annually attracts about 1 million visitors every year.
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