Malta & the Maltatal, Carinthia
Malta is a community in Carinthia, more specifically in the district of Spittal an der Drau. Malta has approximately 2,000 residents and nothing to do whatsoever with the pseudo-nation (or rather tiny island) in the Mediterranean. Despite of its humble population number, Malta occupies an impressively large area. The municipality is the second-largest of Carinthia, number two only to Wolfsberg.
As usual in such cases, a large area corresponds with a very low population density. The total territory of Malta is 261.77 square kilometres, covering most of the Maltatal valley, which merges with the Liesertal at Gmünd. To the west of the Maltatal, you will find the Reißeckgruppe, a mountain range; to the north, you get to the Hohe Tauern with the national park. 8570 hectares of Malta′s bizarrely extensive lands are part of the National Park Hohe Tauern.
Almost all residents of the Maltatal live at the base of the valley. The neighbouring communities of Malta are Rennweg, Muhr and Bad Gastein. It is worth noting, though, that there are the Alps in between the latter two on one side and Malta on the other, which surely constrains the neighbourly relationship significantly. In the other direction, Malta borders to Gmünd, Trebesing and Reißeck, as well as Oberellach and Mallnitz. Tourism is important for Malta and the entire Maltatal. 100,000 over-night arrangements are sold every year; the summer season is the more important one, especially in the lower parts of the Maltatal.
Toursm & Sightseein in Malta & the Maltatal Valley
In terms of tourism and sightseeing, Malta is mostly known for natural beauty and good access to the National Park Hohe Tauern. The Maltatal seems to specialise on waterfalls, the most important ones being the Gößfälle and the 100-metre high Fallbach. The latter one is the highest waterfall of Carinthia. For eternally childish people like myself, the parish church of Malta offers a peculiar attraction: The outside wall is decorated with an ancient fresco which depicts a little figure that looks like Mickey Mouse. How cool is that? It really does! The Gothic church was built in the 15th century and apart from Mickey, there are also other noteworthy frescoes, a vaulted ceiling, Roman tombstones that are incorporated into the walls, an altar from 1740 and a charnel house in early Gothic style from the 13th century.
The former vicarage was built in the 16th century and was renovated extensively in 1984. It serves as a venue for weddings, temporary exhibitions and funerals (according to their website, sorry if this sounds like an odd mix). The hamlet of Dornbach has a late-Gothic church with frescoes from 1463 and an altar from 1700. There is a ruined castle, the Burgruine Weidegg. And the rather pretty castle Schloss Dornbach, originally built in Gothic style, later extended in the 16th century and equipped with a bailey and thick walls around it. It can be found not far from the Fallbach waterfall and in combination with it, makes a great hiking route.
The area of today′s Malta has been populated since pre-Roman days. The oldest written record for a village on the site of Malta dates back to 957 - then called "locus malontina". The current borders of Malta were drawn in 1850. About a third of the population is Protestant, providing late evidence that the Habsburgs′ counter-reformation missionaries didn′t bother too much about remote valley and unfriendly mountains.