The mystical Lake Hallstatt in winter surrounded by a snowy landscape (photo: www.360perspektiven.com)

Hallstatt
at Lake Hallstatt

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The history of Hallstatt

This beautiful little town has attracted visitors for centuries. The „white gold“, deep in the heart of the mountain, has meant local people have had to work extremely hard over the centuries, but has also greatly increased their prosperity and brought with it certain priviliges. As a result, this little community has become world famous, and local people take pride in the fact that a whole period in history was named after them.

Findings in the Hallstatt “Hochtal”

The history of Hallstatt begins about 250 million years ago, when the whole region was still under water. The uplift of the continental plates separated individual bays from the sea and created inland seas. Due to the hot climate, the water evaporated and the dissolved minerals gradually settled on the ground. About 120 million years ago, the Dachstein limestone slab slid over the huge salt dome, the Alps straightened up and the soft salt was pushed upwards.

The oldest finds discovered so far date back to about 5000 B.C.; they are a hoe from Hirschhorn and several stone axes found on the dam meadow above today's high valley. At this time, there are currently no proven settlements in the entire Alpine region. On the dam meadow, however, there are some salty springs which may have attracted the hunters of the Neolithic. Here they could hunt in a simple way because the animals used the salt springs. 

The Bronze Age

Organized mining then took place during the Bronze Age. Around the year 1300 B.C. a fully developed salt mine already existed, which reached up to 300 m into the darkness of the mountain. Sophisticated technology was used to break the salt from the ground for several hundred years, and a modular wooden staircasewith adjustable height still testifies to the great technical understanding of the miners today. Some time between 1000 and 900 B.C. an accident occurred in which the entire salt mine collapsed and the mining halls were buried. Probably also the man died in the salt, who was found again in 1734.

 

Hallstatt cemetery

The prehistoric inhabitants of Hallstatter were not intimidated by this catastrophe. Already in 800 B.C. there was a large new mine. With new technology and a trading network that brought amber from the Baltic Sea and glass from the Mediterranean region to the small mountain village. The Hallstatt cemetery in the high valley still bears witness to the wealth of this epoch. Only a few decades after the discovery of the cemetery, where around 1500 graves have been uncovered to this day, the older Iron Age (the period between 800 and 400 BC) was given the name Hallstatt Period.

 

The Romans in Hallstatt

Around the turn of time the Romans arrived in Hallstatt and took over the salt mining. However, they did not settle in the high valley like the locals, but at the foot of the salt mountain. Some of the remains of this settlement can still be seen today. Afterwards Hallstatt disappears for the first time in the darkness of history. Even if it can be assumed that the mining and trade with the white gold continued (so it is mentioned in old documents that transport ships sailed through Lauffen, which were probably loaded with salt).

 

The first church in Hallstatt

In the 12th century the Church of St. Michaelwas mentioned in a document as the first church in Hallstatt and around 1254 the Bohemian king P`rzemysl Ottokar, who owned the Salzkammergut at that time, mentioned the mines of the region. In 1284 the Rudolfsturm was finally completed on the Salzberg, which is still enthroned above the town today. In 1311 Hallstatt received a complete reform of salt mining and became a market town, and a unique stand was created worldwide: the salt pavers. They were responsible for the packaging, transport and sale of the salt and developed into respected merchants. Today the salt mountain of Hallstatt still dominates the town. Directly behind the world-famous market place, the mighty stick of salt rock and lime rises and attracts thousands of enthusiastic people to this breathtaking area every year. Here you can directly experience and feel the history of the place.

Contact & Service

Tourist information Hallstatt
Seestraße 99
4830 Hallstatt

+43 5 95095-30
+43 5 95095-74
hallstatt@dachstein-salzkammergut.at

 

Don’t hesitate to contact the team of local guides at the tourist board Hallstatt - Michelle Knoll, Laura Rainer and Coleen Aigner – for any questions about Hallstatt and the holiday area Dachstein Salzkammergut.

Opening times tourist board Hallstatt …