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Intangible cultural heritage

Traditions, knoweldge, craftsmanship techniques  
Photo: © UNESCO/James Muriuki

National Inventory

Since Austria ratified the Convention, the Austrian Commission for UNESCO has been entrusted with creating a National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Austria. Thanks to their unique qualities, each listed tradition contributes to cultural diversity beyond the nation’s borders and conveys the richness of Austria’s living cultural heritage in an understandable manner.
Applications are accepted throughout the year. For more information on the application process and the criteria for inclusion, click here.

Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Austria

“Odlatzbia Oröwen” in the Wiesenwienerwald

“Odlatzbia Oröwen” in the Wiesenwienerwald

While the wild service tree (Sorbus torminalis) occurs in many parts of Europe, it is very rare today and found for the most part only in woods. In Lower Austria, where the tree is referred to as “Odlatzbia” (High German: Adlitzbeere), the knowledge and handicrafts surrounding the “queen of the wild fruit” are passed on from one generation to the next. “Odlatzbia Oröwen” is the culmination of the work process that extends from the planting of the tree to the destemming of its fruit.
Kneipp therapy as traditional knowledge and practice according to the theories of Sebastian Kneipp

Kneipp therapy as traditional knowledge and practice according to the theories of Sebastian Kneipp

The Kneipp therapy (also known as “Kneipping”) is a traditional curative method that promotes the prevention of illness and the preservation of health. It is aimed at stimulating circulation, strengthening the immune system, and improving the vegetative nervous system. Kneipp therapy is a holistic method and encompasses five foundational pillars: Exercise, Nutrition, Water, Plants, and Balance. Classic Kneipping consists of multiple affusions of water as well as additional therapies including…
Meadow irrigation in Tyrol

Meadow irrigation in Tyrol

This submission deals with a centuries-old method of irrigating inner-Alpine dry areas. Water is diverted from a brook into the Hauptwaal [main canal], through which it flows downhill at a shallow angle to reach the land that requires irrigation. Today, this simple but efficient method of irrigating agricultural land is still practiced by nine cooperatives in eight municipalities of Tyrol’s Oberland region.
Experiential Knowledge Concerning Avalanche Risk Management

Experiential Knowledge Concerning Avalanche Risk Management

Since the very beginning of human beings’ inhabitation of the Alps, it has been necessary to acquire knowledge about avalanches in order to survive there. For the most part, such knowledge has been passed on orally—within families, in schools, and within affected occupational communities (hunters, farmers, etc.). To this day, avalanches cannot be fully predicted or assessed by scientific means. Therefore, experiential knowledge of how to deal with this natural hazard is all the more important.
Knowledge concerning the breeding of Lipizzan horses

Knowledge concerning the breeding of Lipizzan horses

Across all of Europe, Lipizzans represent the only performance horse breed that has been raised in the traditional way since the Renaissance. The Lipizzans’ preservation is based on extensive knowledge about breeding, caring for, and training these horses, knowledge that has been passed on from generation to generation in a largely oral manner. The bearers of this knowledge in Austria are the employees of the federal stud farm in Piber, who have been breeding Lipizzans for the Spanish Riding…
Knowledge of timber rafting on the Upper Drava

Knowledge of timber rafting on the Upper Drava

Every year, six communities build rafts and run them down Austria’s last free-flowing stretch of the Drava in order to keep age-old rafting knowledge alive. Up into the 20th century, the Drava was an important Carinthian west-east transport route and was known as the Kärntner Holzstraße [Carinthian Wood Road] for sawmills and, later on, cellulose factories from the 17th century onward. From Upper Carinthia, logs and sawn wood, iron products, and other goods were transported downriver using…
Knowledge of traditional seed cultivation and production

Knowledge of traditional seed cultivation and production

Every culture has produced specific species and varieties of edible plants, adapting the knowledge and techniques involved to its dietary habits and the growing conditions at hand. By means of targeted planting, care, selection, usage and multiplication, farmers and gardeners have created an enormous diversity. The knowledge of seed planting, seed harvesting, selection, cleaning and storage was and still is passed on from generation to generation both in families and in communities.
Knowledge of the locations, harvesting, and processing oft he spotted gentian

Knowledge of the locations, harvesting, and processing oft he spotted gentian

The knowledge of the locations, harvesting procedure, and processing of the spotted gentian (gentiana punctata) has been passed down for centuries in the Tyrolean community of Galtür. The entire population of the village is generally involved in the harvesting procedure—carefully digging up the precious roots—as well as the processing phase: the distillation of gentian schnapps. To this day, lots are drawn at the annual village fair to determine which families will be permitted to participate in…
Transhumance – sheep drive in the Ötztal Alps

Transhumance – sheep drive in the Ötztal Alps

The transhumance in the Ötztal Alps is a special form of sheep drive. The drives traverse the Timmelsjoch (2494m), the Hochjoch (2885m), and the Niederjoch (3017m), and represent the only cross-border transhumance in the Alps that also crosses glaciers. Every year, about 5,000 to 5,500 sheep are driven from South Tyrol up to the Ötz Valley pasture areas in the early summer and back down again in autumn.
The knowledge of hazel spruce as tone wood

The knowledge of hazel spruce as tone wood

The hazel spruce (“Haselfichte”), with its genetically anchored hazel growth, occurs predominantly in the forests of the Alps above an elevation of 1,200 metres. Due to its specific characteristics, the wood of the hazel spruce has long been used in instrument making, which places the highest demands on the quality of the wood. Only very few wood experts are able to recognise this wood quality in a standing tree.
Three-step Alpine transhumance in the Bregenz Forest

Three-step Alpine transhumance in the Bregenz Forest

Due to the fact that the amount of non-silo fodder from the in-house production of the farm yards in the Bregenz Forest does not suffice for the livestock all year-round, the local farmers apply a well-tried agricultural practice called the “three-step Alpine transhumance”.
Falconry

Falconry

Falconry is the art of hunting with birds. In the strictest sense of the term, “falconry” denotes hunting with specially trained falcons, although goshawks, sparrowhawks (kestrels), and eagles are also used. The centuries-old tradition of the courtly “falcon corps” evolved into a tradition-conscious, sustainable form of hunting that with regard to habitat protection is referred to as the “silent hunt”, as it represents a natural relationship between the prey and the raptor.
Local healing knowledge in the Pinzgau region

Local healing knowledge in the Pinzgau region

The accumulated knowledge of cures and their practical application in Pinzgau (Salzburg) was first documented in writing in the course of a 2005 survey. A specific list holds details of the indications and effects of 106 different cures. Remedies such as pitch, arnica or amber are available locally and constitute an important element of the region’s cultural context.
Salzkammergut bird-catching

Salzkammergut bird-catching

The tradition of catching birds in Salzkammergut involves the capture of individual local woodland birds in autumn, and the woodland bird exhibition on the last Sunday before “Kathrein” (a religious holiday on November 25).