Wienerwald - Vienna Woods:
Recreational Area for Vienna - Part I
It is a bit of a cliché to call the Vienna Woods or the Wienerwald area the "green lung of Vienna". In fact, the stretch of land is far from being Austria′s most impressive piece of landscape - gentle hills with forests, but also densely populated with prosperous suburbs at varying degrees of attractiveness.
The Wienerwald embraces Vienna from the North to the South-East and is approximately 45 kilometres long and 20 to 30 kilometres wide, which sums up to approximately 100,000 hectares. The Wienerwald area comprises of hills that are the final "outposts" of the Alps - the Northern Calciferous Alps, to be precise. That being said, do not expect proper mountains from the Wienerwald. They offer walking opportunities at best.
Personally, I quite like the Wienerwald; compared to the industrialised suburbs of Vienna in the South and East, the Vienna Woods are nice and they offer an opportunity to enforce an illusion of wilderness upon yourself if you want to escape from Vienna for a while. In this article, I want to give a general introduction to the Wienerwald area and some "entry points" for walks in the Vienna Woods for those who approach them from Vienna. The hills and valleys of the Wienerwald area range between 300 and 900 metres of altitude; the most popular ones are those around the Kahlenberg and Leopoldsberg. These two hills offer great views on Vienna.
19th Century: Wienerwald Vienna Woods go Nature Reserve
The Wienerwald was supposed to be deforested in 1870; a local politician and lobbyist called Josef Schöffel fought against these plans and became finally famous as the "Saviour of the Vienna Woods". Thanks to Josef Schöffel, the city of Vienna can trick the statistics and rightfully claim to comprise of about 50 percent forest - mostly due to the extension of the city limits into the forested hills of the Wienerwald.
In 2005, the Wienerwald became a UNESCO "Biosphere Reserve", despite of its fairly dense population. There are several parts of the Wienerwald that are also traditional nature reserves, most notably the Eichenhain, Sandsteinwienerwald, Lainzer Tiergarten (already part of Vienna), Naturpark Sparbach and Föhrenberge. Of these, the Lainzer Tiergarten and the Naturpark Föhrenberge are within easy reach from Vienna - even with pulbic means of transport.
For proper hiking, one needs to get further away from Vienna. The highest "mountain" of the Wienerwald area is the 893 metres high Schöpfl. South-East of the Schöpfl you find two other relatively high hills: The Gföhlberg (885 metres) and the Hohe Lindkogel (834 metres); but also the Peilstein (716 metres). If you are up for some hillwalking within the city limits of Vienna, watch out for the Hermannskogel (542 metres) with the "Habsburgwarte" (Habsburg look out). This was the central reference point for maps during the time of the Empire. Note also the Dreimarkstein (454 metres) between the districts of Hernals and Döbling as well as the village of Weidling. The Jubiläumswarte look-out (480 metres) on Heuberg and the Wienerblick at Lainzer Tiergarten area are also popular look-outs that offer great views on Vienna.
Continue with "Wienerwald (Vienna Woods) - Part II"
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