Salzkammergut (World Heritage)

The extremely scenic Salzkammergut with the Dachstein massif is characterized by karst forms and cave systems. The area, which was once covered by the sea, was unfolded into a mountain range over millions of years. The world heritage includes a unique lake landscape, plateaus and glaciers and the steep walls of the Northern Limestone Alps. Salt mining, which has been practiced for thousands of years, shaped the cultural landscape and helped the region to achieve great prosperity. The prehistoric burial ground discovered in Hallstatt gave the Hallstatt period its name.

Salzkammergut: facts

Official title: Hallstatt-Dachstein / Salzkammergut cultural landscape
Cultural monument: in the cultural landscape towards the end of the Bronze Age (2000-800 BC), salt mining began at a depth of up to 330 m; Grave field with 3000 graves in the Salzbergtal; Hallstatt with its prehistoric museum, late Gothic parish church of the Assumption of Mary, Romanesque ossuary and the salt mine on the Salzberg; the Hohe Dachstein (2995 m) and the Dachstein caves
Continent: Europe
Country: Austria, Upper Austria
Location: Hallstatt and the surrounding area, east of Salzburg
Appointment: 1997
Meaning: For millennia, salt has been the basis of life in a region

Salzkammergut: history

800-400 BC Chr. the so-called “actual Hallstatt period”
A.D. 50-390 Roman settlement in the village of Hallstatt-Lahn
1311 Market law for Hallstatt
1504 Visit of Emperor Maximilian I in Hallstatt
1573 and 1616 Discovery of the prehistoric corpses of two miners
1595 Construction of a brine pipeline from Hallstatt to Ebensee
1680 Visit of the salt works by Emperor Leopold I.
1734 Discovery of a male corpse from the Hallstatt period preserved in salt
1846 Discovery of a cemetery with cremation and body burials in the Hallstatt community
1853 Betrothal of Emperor Franz Joseph I to Elisabeth; Visit of the couple in Hallstatt
1937 Finds from the La Tène period (450 BC – the birth of Christ)

White gold

Preserved salt. When miners found a dead comrade while working in the salt mine in the first half of the 18th century, he looked as if he had died just a few days ago. In fact, it had been in this place for centuries. However, this knowledge only came about when traces of the Celtic settlers of Hallstatt were discovered, to which the mysterious “Man in Salt” belonged. The huge burial ground, which began to be excavated in the first half of the 19th century, is the most important prehistoric site north of the Alps; Much of the knowledge about this epoch of human history comes from the extensive finds there. According to aristmarketing, From France to the Balkans, the Celtic culture that the small Austrian town gave its name reached: the Hallstatt period.

Even before Rome was founded, the Celts unearthed “white gold” in the mountains of the Salzkammergut and thus established power and wealth. With the mined salt they bought amber from the Baltic Sea, weapons from southern Germany, bronze dishes from the Danube region, glass from the northern Adriatic and even ivory from Africa. The Celts were the first to systematically mine salt in this idyllic mountain and lake landscape on the Dachstein, making it probably the first salt mine in the world – which is still mining. Since then, not only have major historical events been closely linked to salt, but above all the salt industry has shaped everyday life, culture, life and mentality of the local population. After a period of decline, the state took over mining in the Middle Ages. At that time, the citizens received the so-called salt paver rights. They took care of drying, packing, shipping and selling the salt and had their own shipyards to be able to transport the salt by water. Settlements arose where it was useful, such as Gmunden as a processing and trading center, Lauffen, where the rapids had to be conquered with ropes, or Hallstatt as a miners’ settlement. And without salt mining, there would certainly not be the first pipeline in the world, the Soleweg, a 40-kilometer wooden pipeline from Hallstatt to Ebensee – today accompanied by a pretty hiking trail.

The Salzkammergut was directly subordinated to the sovereign prince and the imperial financial administration, the chamber. This is where the name derives from – salt was a particularly valuable commodity for the chamber. The privileged citizens were sealed off, and no local was allowed to leave the Salzkammergut without permission from the highest authorities. Conversely, no foreigner was allowed to settle here without a permit. Before 1861 there was not even a continuous land traffic between Gmunden and the inner Salzkammergut, and in 1890 the “postcard village” Hallstatt could only be reached by boat or on mule tracks. So it’s no wonder that the people of the Salzkammergut developed their own mindset.

The rough country of miners and lumberjacks experienced the great change in the 19th century. The nobility discovered the area in their search for spa baths, and the existing brine baths attracted noble spa guests. Among them was Archduchess Sophie, whose desire to have children brought her here. And the healing power of the baths seemed to have helped: after two miscarriages, the Habsburg family finally had offspring, and Sophie’s three sons went down in history as “salt princes”. Her first-born, later Emperor Franz Joseph I, stayed true to his roots and chose Bad Ischl as his summer retreat. And thanks to salt, the Salzkammergut achieved world fame not only through him.

Salzkammergut (World Heritage)

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