KARAWANKEN / KARAVANKE UNESCO GLOBAL GEOPARK (Austria & Slovenia)

“Secrets written in stone”


Celebrating Earth Heritage

This UNESCO Global Geopark is a transnational Geopark and it is named after the mountain chain which is connecting and at the same time dividing the regions on both sides of the border of Slovenia and Austria. The UNESCO Global Geopark is located between two Alpine mountains that exceed 2,000 metres: Mt. Petzen/Peca and Mt. Koschuta/Košuta.

The geological history of this UNESCO Global Geopark reaches almost 500 million years back into the geological past. When hiking on the highest peaks of the Karavanke mountains one can see the remains of sea snails, sea lilies and even ichthyosaur bones, which bear witness to the rich life of the former Tethys Sea. Millions of years ago, sedimentary rocks started to form at the bottom of this sea, which today makes up the majority of the surface of the UNESCO Global Geopark. Here an undersea volcano Smrekovec erupted, at the place where the Adriatic and Eurasian Plates collided, which today forms one of the longest mountain chains – the Alps. Due to this collision, a several hundred kilometre-long Periadriatic fault zone formed, which passes right through the UNESCO Global Geopark and extends deep beneath its surface. The UNESCO Global Geopark takes pride in its beautiful minerals rarely found elsewhere in the world.


Sustaining local Communities

The Geopark’s administrative borders follow the borders of fourteen municipalities. The area extends over 1067 km2 with a population of 53,000. It is marked by rich mining and ironworks and tradition, which dictated the development of the area in the past. Nowadays, the way of life and the development of the area is also tightly connected with this tradition.

Today, visitors and scientists are drawn to this area by the wealth of minerals in old mines, as well as by its outstanding natural resources and its people. All of this is connected, presented and promoted by the UNESCO Global Geopark. The existing tourist infrastructure has been upgraded with geo-experiences, geo-education and geo-interpretation and linked to the local economy, culture and nature, which will undoubtedly contribute to further development of the region. In the UNESCO Global Geopark exist an educational programme called "It’s fun, it’s educational and no chore”, these are courses for teachers and workshops for kindergarten and school children.



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