It really doesn't matter how you travel towards Hinterstoder. Whether you come by car or by bike you will finally arrive at a huge parking lot just outside the village and at the mountains. When you're at that particular parking lot and you look towards the city of Hinterstoder you can't miss the Parish Church of Hinterstoder (Church of the Holy Cross). Although we immediately said to ourselves that we wanted to visit this impressive church we first walked our way up to the Markplatz (Market Square) to see the sights out there. We hiked our way up to baroque Town Hall (1807 - 1810), went back to the Alpineum (exhibition centre built in 1997) and saw the Höss Hall, which is the centre of the social life in Hinterstoder. It's therefore very funny to notice that after strolling through some beautiful small streets we finally ended up at the backside of the Parish Church. The site we definately wanted to see when we first arrived. Right now it was at the end of the afternoon and we where thrilled to see the St. Michaelskirche as a highlight at the end of the beautiful day. The church was still open for visitors, so off we went!
Once inside we immediately saw the altar which is the center of the interior design. It's made of a marble top and because this church isn't all that rich, it's modernized with different surfaces covering a wooden structure. The altar still is the most vital piece in church interior design. We walked around a bit and also visited the cementry which is just outside the church. This church is a must visit!
Although we were quite late when we first arrived at the Parish Church of Hinterstoder we were still allowed to enter it. A huge advantage of our late arrival was the fact that there were almost no tourists left. Either the bus / coach had already left or everybody was drinking a beer in the pubs. Whenever we visit a church the kids always want to burn a candle, it has become a bit of a tradition. The Sight of burning votive candles - real or electronic - is common in most Catholic churches. The candles are usually placed before statues of saints or at shrines. But how did this tradition get its start?
According to A Handbook of Catholic Sacramentals, by Ann Ball, the practice of lighting candles in order to obtain some favor probably has its origins in the custom of burning lights at the tombs of the martyrs in the catacombs. The lights burned as a sign of solidarity with Christians still on earth. Because the lights continually burned as a silent vigil, they became known as vigil lights. Vigil Lights (from the Latin vigilia, which means "waiting" or "watching") are traditionally accompanied by prayers of attention or waiting. Another common type of candle offering is the votive light. Such an offering is indicative of seeking some favor from the Lord or the saint before which the votive is placed. So for us lighting a candle is a way of extending our prayer and showing solidarity with the person on whose behalf our prayer is offered.
The origin of the village of Hinterstoder can be traced from as long ago as the year 866, turning it into one of the most ancient spots of the region. There are many different ancient spots to explore within this town, as well as the general appearance of it is rewarding by itself due to its charming houses and buildings. A lot has changed since the old times, but still some is presented in the same way as many hundred years ago. Hinterstoder doesn't have a rich cultural heritage, but does have long traditions and customs that are kept alive.
One of the buildings which strikes the eye immediately is the Late Baroque Parish Church: Church of the Holy Cross (1784 – 1787). It’s consecrated on the "16th autumn moon of the year 1787", Sunday after the exaltation of the Cross, hence the name. Even when you arrive at the church from the backside and not the front you'll see that the mighty 225 years old church tower of the Parish Church of Hinterstoder ranks among the other buildings in the village. The interior is partly from another church from Spital am Pyhrn. It definitely has some beautiful wall and ceiling frescoes dating back to the 19th century. Outside the church there is a war memorial telling about the casualties of the First and Second World War. Be aware it is definately worth a visit, but that it is closed on Mondays.
Along the eastern bank of the Steyr river it is possible to hike the entire Circular-Hiking-World, which is the latest addition to the hiking path system in the Stodertal. It will take you all the way to the Strumboding waterfall, which is about a great hike (the long distance hiking trail no. 09) with 15 crossing over the river Steyr. The trail is a well packed, small gravel trail and is rather good for a leisurely stroll of biking and there are also several access points in between.
So taking this hike towards the Steyr Ursprung is a way to discover this part of one of Austria’s national parks. We stayed for a while at this amazing spot and revelled in the silence of the woods and the splashing of this clear stream. As being to Hinterstoder many times, in winter and summer times, I can state the summer is the best time of the year to get to know this particular part of the Stodervalley. We discovered some common and rare flowers as this was some kind of botanic walk. There were not too many people along the trail which was a surprise given that the weather was so great to be outdoors. You will also find some benches along here to stop and rest and enjoy a view of the beautiful part of Austria! Have fun …
At the end of the Stodertal, near Hinterstoder, you’ll find relaxation and adventure amidst peaceful woods and meadows at the source of the Steyr river. It’s part of the Kalkalpen National Park with its beautiful forests and mountains, by all means hiking is the major feature here. To get here you can drive your car all the way up to the hamlet of Baumschlagerreith, which is quite close to the source of the Steyr river.
The hike towards the source is quite nice. Instead of struggling with the usual rough elements of mountain hiking, we enjoyed the beauty of a low-elevation hike. The trip from Baumschlagerreith to the source took us just under 20 minutes. The trail is very gently uphill and flat most of the way, with the requisite ups and downs to avoid small cliffs and such. We passed some several bubbling brooks and an abundance of different flora. As we made our way slightly up we had some spectacular views at the Totes Gebirge mountain rim. As we got higher the path became rather steep, but is was worth it! Because all of a sudden we came around a rock and there in front of us was a tiny little lake, the source! As we stood there it was hard to believe that this was the source of the Steyr river that eventually runs through the major city of Steyr.
Considering that it is a relatively small country, Austria has an incredible diversity of scenery, ideal for rural holidays. In the south it borders the beautiful South Tirol, the countryside is reminiscent of the Mediterranean, but it also has the high Alpine regions with its woods, hills, bogs, lakes and valleys. One of these valleys is the Stodertal, an Alpine pearl. Right here at these mountains and in the valley water is a way of life. Water that bubbles up fresh from the ground, lakes are so clean you can drink straight from them, and rivers are bordered by a string of scenic and cultural attractions. Austria’s waters are a habitat, retreat and playground in one, serving for our holidays.
The main river in the area of the Stodertal is the river Steyr, it has it source in the valley. The Steyr rises in the Totes Gebirge near the small village of Hinterstoder, right at the end of the valley. The river flows into the Enns River in the city of Steyr at a ‘Y’ position. The city of Steyr uses this ‘Y’ for marketing purposes, it’s length is approximately 68 kilometres.
So, honestly … it’s fair to say that one of the most beautiful natural places of Upper Austria is located at the foot of the Big Priel and the Spitzmauer in Hinterstoder: the Schiederweiher. It offers amazing lake views with a stunning backdrop provided by the mountains. The rare natural beauty of the Schiedeweiher is a place where gentle and rough mountains cradle a small and serene lake, a place of perfect relaxation and abundant recreation.
Whenever you do visit the Schiedeweiher do witness that it is always quiet out there. Even when there are other hikers, nature lovers or any other people … they are always quiet. It’s just like nobody want to say anything or make a sound, not to spoil the beautiful environment and its serene quietness. This spectacular natural setting of snow covered peaks, lush forest flora and fauna, and a pristine mountain lake blends harmoniously with the naturalness of the other surrounding elements. It's probably supposed to be quiet!
It’s quite funny, but when I was a child I never realised that this particular area does have a history. Later on during other visits I learned that in 1887 the architect Von Schieder bought two badly dilapidated buildings and transformed them into wonderful estates. He also laid out a pond with an island, and a road through the Klinserau forest. Today the Schiederweiher Pond, also known as the "Pearl of the Stodertal Valley", is owned by the Duke of Württemberg. There is also a grave nearby the walking path to remember the architect Von Schieder.
From the pond you can enjoy a stunning view of the Spitzmauer mountain (2446 meters) and the Großer Priel mountain(2515 meters), it’s trully uncompromising natural beauty. You can see it from different angles and each angle is unique! Of course the first stop should be near the wooden dam, but do hike your way up to the other side of the lake and have a view backwards. Finally you can take the hiking path which goes upwards at the northern side of the lake. After a strenuous hike you’ll be able to see the (green) lake from a altitude of about 750 meters (about 100 meters above the lake). So, if you are seeking the tranquillity of pristine nature and a land of inspiring scenery? Well … do visit the Schiedeweiher!
Just about 2 kilometers west of Hinterstoder town lies a small, peaceful, serene mountain lake called Schiedeweiher Pond. It lies amidst some of natures finest beauty in the Stoder Valley region and is perfect for canoeing, hiking, swimming, viewing the Totes Gebirge. Or for Nordic Walking, spotting the local wild animals, horseback riding or just enjoying the view with the warm sun in your face! I must definately admit that every time I go to Hinterstoder this is the first place I visit. It immediately gives me the feeling “Wow! I’m back in Hinterstoder!” and makes me forget the long drive by car I had to undertake to get there.
It’s probably the most popular hiking path of the Stoder Valley and it starts from the parking area at the Johannishof farm, which is situated approximately 2 kilometers eastern of the village centre. Just cross the river Steyr by the bridge and pass the Johannishof farm and continue along the path to the most beautiful spot with picture post card view! I’m not exenterating, do believe me! The view at the Schiederweiher Pond surrounded by the most prominent peaks of the Totes Gebirge mountain range is simply breathe taking. I always stand there in awe …
What else has the city centre of Hinterstoder to offer? Well let me say this ... as we are from The Netherlands we are used to doing a lot by foot and Hinterstoder is a village in which everybody walks and you're trully able to explore all the sights by foot. Our two feet were our best friends and therefore we were able to enjoy all the scenery Hinterstoder has to offer. It has a main street and some little paths to explore. Of course the beautiful Town Hall (1807 - 1810) is a fine example of baroque architecture and is a must see!
Other places of interest ar the Alpineum, which is an exhibition centre built in 1997. It's a modern wood and glass construction and the exhibitions are changed yearly. Further more do visit the Höss Hall, which is the centre of the social life in Hinterstoder. The streets do wind and wander a little bit, but that's just fun! Just enjoy the small and characteristic houses you will see along, with in the backdrop the amazing mountains which surround this little village. We ended up at a picturesque cobblestone alleyway, a graceful May Baum Tree, a churche, fountain and a selection of Cafés and Gasthouses where we had our lunch and by the end of the day had a nice cold beer and rose!