The history of the Dachstein Salzkammergut
The Inner Salzkammergut attracted people at an early age who were looking for the vital salt. Already in the 2nd millennium B.C. we find traces of salt extraction at Hallstatt's Salzberg. The important export good salt provided for prosperity, grave goods prove extensive trade relations.
The heyday of ancient mining was undoubtedly the period from 800 to 400 BC (older Iron Age), which went down in history as the "Hallstattzeit (Hallstatt-Period)" due to the numerous finds in Hallstatt.
Salt mining collapses
Later, the mine was affected by a burglary. Shortly before the turn of time, the Romans took power and settled in the valley, while the local population continued to do their craft. Perhaps the region was the imperial domain. The withdrawal of the Romans in the 5th century A.D. was accompanied by an almost complete cultural break. It is not certain whether salt was mined in the Early and High Middle Ages. There are isolated indications that salt production was possible on the western side of the sandstone.
The growth in Hallstatt
We only enter secured ground again at the turn of the 14th century, when the Habsburgs took over the area as private property (Kammergut). Hallstatt again became an important production site. In the 16th century the connection of Austria with Bohemia led to a boom phase, at the same time the Protestant faith infiltrated. Soon Hallstatt's capacities were exhausted, the forests resembled karst landscapes, which is why Bad Ischl and later Ebensee provided for increases.
The Counter-Reformation marked the beginning of an unhappy period for the inner Salzkammergut, which culminated in the expulsion of almost 700 Protestants to Transylvania. 1781 brought the long-awaited tolerance.
Tourism in the World Heritage Region
Around 1800 the tourist development of the region began, the first travellers wrote guides through the "Austrian Switzerland". However, tourism only really began with the introduction of the railway, which made the area easily accessible. Since then, the Inner Salzkammergut has been a popular tourist destination, which has been internationally recognised with its World Heritage designation in 1997.
Text by Dr. Michael Kurz, Dec. 2002