6 power centres in the Southern Waldviertel

A heart, a skull. In the Southern Waldviertel region the stones have names that are connected to their shapes – and that are just as mysterious as their meaning.

The area around Yspertal is rich in stones and the stones are rich in mystical stories that entwine around them. Along the Druid Trail and the Heart Stone Trail, on the Yspertal Panorama Trail or the Waldlehrpfad hikers come across stone formations that are said to have special powers.

Behind every fork in the trail and among all the trees of the Southern Waldviertel region, stone giants lie on the ground - idiosyncratically shaped blocks of granite covered with moss that bear witness to times long past. They have attracted cupstone researchers such as the locally famous priest Hans Wick to investigate the causes and legends behind them. The local history museum in Yspertal, founded by Pastor Wick, documents his findings about the cupstones - the granite stones with cupped spots - from their use as cult sites to geomagnetic anomalies. If you are ready for your own cupstone research in the forest, with tips from nature educator Johann Pichler, we reveal six rejuvenation spots with stone formations.

#1 Druid meeting point

On the Druid's Path on the Kaltenberg, granite blocks lie in the middle of the forest. Together, they form an outer and inner stone circle, with a central stone where there are reports of strong energy vibrations. Their arrangement, as in the case of the stone "sacrificial bowls" next to them, probably occurred naturally. They were certainly used by people. This is said to have been a Druid meeting place with Celtic priestly gatherings. If you stay on the Druid Trail and follow the markings, you can also discover other formations such as "Phallus with Vulva" and "Sitting Dog".

#2 Forest chapel on the educational forest trail

On the Yspertal Waldlehrpfad, the forest chapel appears between two granite blocks. Even if its origin is unclear, there is certainly a legend. "When a knight on the run wanted to hide, a stone split and he was able to ride through. The pursuers didn’t find him, as the stone had closed in front of them again", explains Johann Pichler. The stone became a shrine and a chapel dedicated to Mary was built near it. Once made of wood, today you will find a new stone building.

#3 Heart stone

An upside-down heart made of stone. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to recognise the shape. It is clear. The five-metre-high granite block is a slip-through stone. "At the equinox, the sun shines through the gap in the heart as it rises and sets", says nature educator Johann Pichler. And yes, you can also crawl through it. Its intention is to serve fertility and to wipe away suffering. According to myth, it is a female double cult site. You can reach it on the Heart Stone trail - a three-hour round trip.

#4 The Stony haystack

As with many of the special stone formations in the Waldviertel region, there is a legend behind the Stony haystack. A farmer's grain once turned to stone as punishment because he reacted to the meagre harvest in a violent and ungodly manner. In the shape of a bizarre pyramid, the granite rock juts out of a field to the east of the Piretsteiner farmstead. The edges of the stone point in the four directions of the compass. The legendary haystack can also be reached along the Heart Stone trail.

#5 “Life and Death” Rock Castle

A stone highlight on the Heart Stone trail - on the 782-metre Weißenberg, you climb a wooden staircase to a rock castle.  "If you walk towards one stone, you will see a skull with empty eye sockets. And you will then see a dragon on the other side”, says Johann Pichler as he describes the different stones of the castle. Incisions are visible on them -a seat, a bowl, a V-angle. In the latter, shell researcher Hans Wick saw a woman's symbol and called the formation "Life and Death".

#6 Wimburg Ruins

The Wimburg ruins are hidden in the forest before the entrance to the Ysper gorge. The short walk up to the overgrown building between the trees is worth it. It was once a fortified church, and only a few remains of the masonry of the former St. Peter's Church are still there. Queen Agnes of Hungary is said to have had her widow's seat here around the year 1300. The ruin is also a stage stop on the Yspertal Panorama Trail, which leads from the Yspertal village, past historical sites like this one and through the beautiful nature to the gorge.