The declaration “World Heritage” by UNESCO indicates monuments, sites, natural formations and manifestations of extraordinary value that ought to be unconditionally protected and supported. World Heritage includes:
World Natural Heritage and World Cultural Heritage regions (e.g. the Old Town area of Salzburg and or the Hallstatt region)
Biosphere reserves (e.g. Salzburg’s Lungau & Carinthia’s Nock Mountains)
UNESCO Global Geoparks (e.g. Erz der Alpen)
Geoparks are areas with geological and/or agricultural special features which are of national and international importance. They ought to display the geo heritage, provide a more in-depth understanding about it to its visitors and preserve it for generations to come. It is not just specific geological features that are displayed, since as part of a holistic collection and sustainable tourism presentation, archaeology, history and culture are considered too. Currently, there are 147 UNESCO Geoparks spread across 41 countries. Three of them are in Austria: Steirische Eisenwurzen, Karawanken mountain range and Erz der Alpen.
The history of Geopark and the Copper Ore route
A Geopark doesn’t just appear overnight. The ‘Geopark Kupferlandschaft Pongau’ initiative started in 2009, with the aim of bringing together the prehistoric and historic mining hubs of St. Veit, Bischofshofen, Mühlbach and Hüttau. The Geopark application follows in November 2013 and was positively assessed in September 2014. Since 17th November 2015 Geopark Erz der Alpen has been an official UNESCO Global Geopark and was re-validated for the first time in 2018.
Hiking along the Copper Ore route
The Copper Ore route forms the backbone of the Erz der Alpen UNESCO Global Geopark. The attractively designed hiking path brings together museums and show mines. Experience the adventure-filled routes, natural play areas, relaxing oases, experience stations and picnic spots! The Copper Ore route is located at the jump area for the Bischofshofen ski jump. It is here that UNESCO Geopark Erz reveals its informative and variety-packed side. The route is vibrant, thanks to the numerous facilities which include historic mining geo-sites (museums, show mines, sinkholes, trenches, smelting sites, prehistoric and historic mining settlements etc.). Various display boards link individual excursions and providing exciting information about geology, settlement history, formation of the landscape and much more.