Lavanttal Valley, Carinthia
The Lavanttal is a valley in Carinthia in the south of Austria. It is sometimes called the "Paradise of Carinthia", nothing but a shameless euphemism. In terms of landscape, the Lavanttal is indeed scenic, but so are many other regions of Carinthia. The Lavanttal is situated in the east of the province, comprises of approximately 1,000 square kilometres and is inhabited by some 60,000 people.
In some sections, the Lavanttal is a very wide valley; at its centre, it is passed by the river Lavant, which originates from Styria. The course of the Lavant encompasses some 64 kilometres in the Lavanttal alone. In the south of the valley, the river merges with the river Drau at the village of Lavamünd. The Lavanttal can be sub-divided into two sections, the upper and the lower valley. The Twimberger Graben, a ditch, is the dividing line.
The Lavanttal is not an overly touristy stretch of land, but offers good hiking opportunities and is a nice area for everybody looking for an off-the-beaten-track experience in Austria. It is a wealthy and scenic stretch of land with fairly good connections to the more important tourism regions west of Klagenfurt. However, the Lavanttal lacks the main asset of Carinthian tourism - the immediate access to lakes.
Monastery & other Things to See in the Lavanttal
Most of the Lavanttal is part of the administrative district of Wolfsberg. The average annual rainfall of the Lavanttal is 800 milimetres, which is common in Carinthia, but rather dry by Austrian standards; for a comparison: The region where I am from, Salzburg′s surroundings, gets some 1,400 millimetres. This is considered wet by Austrian standards - and most others. Winters in the Lavanttal are notoriously foggy, especially at the bottom of the valley. In terms of tourism, the Lavanttal is mostly known for the monastery of St. Paul im Lavanttal.
The monastery often organises exhibitions and cultural events, runs a Catholic secondary school and is the spiritual centre of the region. Some of the parish churches in the valley that are associated with the monastery are worth seeing, such as St Georgen and the church of pilgrimage Maria Himmelfahrt in Pustritz, both with Romanesque cores. Attractions within the monastery itself are the abbey′s church from the 12th century, in a mix of Romanesque and Gothic style. It contains a tomb with graves of Habsburg family members and a significant collection of art and silver in a treasury. In addition to temporary exhibitions, the monastery also has a significant art collection, reflecting its long history - it was founded in 1085.
Off the main towns and villages, the Lavanttal is dominated by agriculture. At the bottom of the valley, the most important agricultural products are corn and livestock, mostly pigs and chicken. In the lower part of the valley, the Unteres Lavanttal, orchards are important, often used for making cider and schnapps. Asparagus is raised in some areas and most of the 20 hectares of Carinthia′s vineyards can be found in the Lavanttal. In higher altitudes of the valley, dairy farming and forestry are more significant.