Waldviertel Region (region north-west of the Manhartsberg Hill), flat upland area in north-western Lower Austria; until the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 the region was relatively secluded, suffering from unemployment and exodus. Geologically the Waldviertel region is part of the Bohemian Massif (in the west mainly granite, in the east gneiss and crystalline limestone and loess in the Horn Bay); it is characterised by continental plateau climate and comprises an area of about 4,600 km2; derives its name from the region´s former wealth of forests (Wald = wood or forest). In the north the Waldviertel region borders on the Czech Republic, in the west on Upper Austria, in the south on the River Danube ( Wachau Valley) and in the east on Manhartsberg Hill (537 m). Geographically the Waldviertel region is divided into a higher western part (upper Waldviertel) and a lower eastern part (lower Waldviertel). Some of the highest elevations in the Waldviertel region are the Grosser Peilstein (1,061 m), Weinsberg (1,041 m), Tischberg (1,063 m) and Nebelstein (1,017 m) mountains. Other unique features of the western Waldviertel are the granite blocks or so-called Wackelsteine (rocking stones, e.g. in Blockheide nature park near Gmuend) and the high moorland. The north-western Waldviertel forms the main European watershed between the River Elbe and the River Danube; the River Lainsitz flows towards the River Elbe. Other important rivers in the Waldviertel region are the Zwettl (in the west), the Thaya (north), the Krems (south) and the Ysper (south); the River Kamp flows through central and eastern parts of the Waldviertel, with 3 reservoirs at Ottenstein, Dobra and Thurnberg. In 1991 16 % of the total population of Lower Austria (231,000 persons) lived in the Waldviertel region; in 1981-1991 populations figures dropped (decreasing birth rates, exodus). Agriculture in the western Waldviertel concentrates on field husbandry (brewer´s barley, rye, oat, potatoes and in milder areas also hop), forestry (approx. 43 % of the western Waldviertel region are forests) and livestock husbandry (dairy husbandry and stock breeding) and fish farming. The eastern Waldviertel is dominated by field husbandry (wheat, barley, sugar beet, maize, rape, and sunflowers). Alternative crops such as poppy and medicinal and culinary herbs are being increasingly cultivated throughout the Waldviertel. Wine-growing spreads from the Weinviertel Region to the lower Kamp Valley (Langenlois). Industry is concentrated in the north-western part of the Waldviertel region (mainly in the municipalities of Gmuend, Schrems, Heidenreichstein, Waidhofen an der Thaya and Gross-Siegharts); the most important industrial sectors are electrical engineering, electronics, glass, wood, stone (granite) and the building trade. In Krems an der Donau in the south-east the economy centres on chemistry, steel and furniture. The Waldviertel is a traditional textile region ( Bandlkramerlandl); textile museums in Gross-Siegharts, Waidhofen an der Thaya and Weitra. An industrial estate has being established in Gmuend, together with the Czech town of Cěske Velenice, to promote the regional economy. Supra-regional communication is also improved and furthered by increased telematic facilities e.g. the Telehaus Waldviertel. It is mainly small and medium enterprises that offer innovative products (e.g. Designcenter Schrems). Over the past years tourism in the 4 Waldviertel tourism associations (Kamptal, Waldviertel-Mitte, Oberes Waldviertel and Thayatal) has increased, particularly in the wellness sector (e.g. Harbach mud bath, Bad Grosspertholz and Gars am Kamp); other tourist activities on offer are hiking and cycling, and cross-country skiing in the winter. More than 30 % of the approx. 890,000 overnight stays in the Waldviertel region in 1993 were spent in the Harbach spa (mud bath) and in Litschau (holiday village). Evidence of the rich history of the Waldviertel region can be found in the abbeys (Zwettl, Altenburg and Geras), fortresses (Heidenreichstein, Rappottenstein), castles (Weitra, Rosenau, Ottenstein, Rosenburg and Riegersburg) and ruins. The most important railway line to the Waldviertel region is the Franz-Josef line via Tulln, Eggenburg, Goepfritz an der Wild and Gmuend towards Prague. The main road into the Waldviertel region is the federal road leading from Stockerau via Maissau, Horn and Goepfritz an der Wild to Schrems. Important villages: Gross-Gerungs, Weitra, Gmuend, Schrems, Heidenreichstein, Waidhofen an der Thaya, Gross-Siegharts, Allentsteig (military training area) and the town of Zwettl in the western Waldviertel region; in the eastern Waldviertel lie Langenlois, Gars am Kamp, Horn, Eggenburg, Drosendorf-Stadt, Hardegg and the region´s capital Krems an der Donau at the outlet of the Wachau valley.
Literature#A. Komlosy, Waldviertler Textilstrasse, 1990; Wirtschaftsfoerderungsinstitut (ed.), Designlandschaft Waldviertel, 1991; A. Bartonek, B. Benes, W. Mueller-Funk and F. Polleross (ed.), Kulturfuehrer Waldviertel, Weinviertel, Suedmaehren, 1993.