It looks like we have writing running in the family as my mum is the author of this blog post. My mum and dad did a travel to Austria on a hot summer day from Slovenia. Due to this interesting blog post, Simon and I just got another reason to travel to Austria ourselves too.
We have wanted to visit the Austria’s highest lying accumulation dam for years, but never really had the time nor the weather. Luckily the day has finally come and we traveled to Austria.
The Speicher Kölnbrein dam lies in a national park Hohe Tauren on 1902 meters above sea level. The dam is close to a medieval town Gmünd, just above the Malta valley.
We were driving past Spittal until we reached Gmünd, which is located at the confluence of two rivers; Lieser and Malta. Strolling through Gmünd it became crystal clear that the town is a real charm.
The medieval town Gmünd is beautiful maintained to every single detail – facades, squares, narrow and cobblestone streets, unique benches… There’s even a magnificent view up to the castle, which looks down on the whole Gmünd town.
Gmünd is one of the oldest towns in Austria. It was first mentioned in 12th century, as an important settlement on the merchant road from Venice to Regensburg. Gmünd got the city rights in 1346 and from that time on you can still admire the town walls with four entrances to the city.
If you are interested in cars, especially in Porsche cars, you will find the only privately owned Porsche museum in the city. We have already visited Porsche Gmünd museum once, so this time we rather spent our time walking around the streets and feel its vibe.
Right opposite the Porsche Gmünd Museum, a unique art gallery caught our attention. The artists were making amazing sculptures out of the used steel tools and parts. It is hard to believe that old shovels, scythes, nails, nuts, old typewriters, sickles and horseshoes can be so attractive and used in art. Unusual and unique ideas, combined with lots of imagination, make impressive work of arts.
After spending few hours in Gmünd, it was time to continue our travel. We were driving on the mountain road Malta, which led us along the Malta River. The views were spectacular and you will be amazed to see many waterfalls and rapids along the road. It will cost you 18,50 EUR per car for driving on this Malta mountain road, but you will not be sorry for the money spent.
The Malta mountain road is 14,5 kilometers long and is set up between many tunnels, chiseled in a solid rock, which will bring you to a hotel, just above accumulation lake Kölnbrein. Take time and visit an exhibition about Kölnbrein dam construction, which also shows how the energy from natural sources can be used.
We enjoyed the views over a cup of coffee on the hotel patio due to the beautiful weather and clear blue sky.
The Kölnbrein accumulation lake is an artificial lake, which was made due to a dam building on a river Malta. The dam is 200 meters high (more than 25 houses) and 626 meters long. The wide at the bottom of the dam is 41 meters (almost 5 houses) and at the top 7,6 meters. It was used more than 2 million cubic meters of concrete to build it.
Behind the Kölnbrein dam a lake has risen, which is 4,5 kilometers long and can hold up to 200 million cubic meters of water. The water from the lake is used for the Rottau hydroelectric power plant. Don’t forget to visit the observation deck Airway, which lies in the middle of this huge and impressive dam.
After the visit of Kölnbrein dam we turned back to Gmünd and Spittal. We exit the motorway at Spittal Nord and visited Seeboden town, near Millstatter See. The reason to do a stop here was the bonsai museum (entrance fee 9,00 EUR/pp).
The Bonsai Museum or better said Bonsai Park spreads over 3000 sqm. When you walk among these unique trees, you realized growing a bonsai tree is a true art and science. The tour lasted for about an hour and at the end we could even buy a bonsai tree. They were beautiful, but you need certain knowledge to grow bonsai at home, so we rather decided to just admire them here.
A visit to a small town Millstatt was following. It has a beautiful lake (Millstatter See), which is Carinthia’s second largest lake, right after Verter See near Klagenfurt.
The town Millstatt has an interesting Benedictine monastery from the beginning of 11th century. After building a railway in the second half of 19th century, a tourism industry has flourished.
We ended our travel to Austria, with a coffee stop at the Millstatter See, both agreeing, that this travel to Austria was impressive and worth our time and money.