Hallstatt on Lake Hallstatt in Aistria  - © Kraft

Hallstatt history


Paradise in the heart of Austria

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.

The story of Hallstatt begins more than 250 million years ago when the whole region was still under water. As a result of the rising of the continental plates, individual sea bays were separated, and inland seas were formed. Due to the hot climate, the seas became much shallower and dried up, and dissolved minerals sank to the bottom. Then, around 120 million years ago, the Dachstein chalk plateau built up over the huge salt reserves. The Alps were formed and pushed the salt reserves up closer to the surface.

The oldest mining discoveries up to now date back to around 5000 BC. This is a hoe made from stag horn and numerous flint axes which were unearthed on the Dammwiese above today’s higher valley. Geologists and archeologists have, up to now, not discovered any evidence of settlements in the entire alpine region that date back to this period. On the Dammwiese, however, there are some salty springs. In the neolithic ages, animals would be drawn to these springs and be hunted by local people.

UNESCO "World Culture & Nature Heritage" Region

Hallstatt - the "salt town" Salt was a product about 230 million years ago of the warm lagunes of the prehistoric Tethys Lake. About 50 million years ago there were gigantic shifts in the continental plates and the result was the formation of salt deposits in the alpine region.

There are records of settlers in Hallstatt as early as the Neolithic Period. The salt mining industry has been in operation since 1300 BC, and continues today. A brine-like substance is extracted from the rocks. This is piped to the nearby salt works, where salt crystals are finally extracted. It sounds like a straight forward process ...... There have been so many implications in the development of the salt industry such as forestry, manufacturing of tools, mining techniques, transportation , and of course provisions for local people themselves. Many people describe Hallstatt as the "world's most beautiful lake-side resort". Hallstatt joined the list of UNESCO "World Cultural and Natural Heritage" sites in December 1997.

The oldest salt mine in the world

7000 years of salt mining in Hallstatt!! Join "the man in the salt" on a journey through time at the Hallstatt Salt Mines - the oldest in the world! Since 2002, the "man in salt" has been the central focus for visitors to the recently refurbished saltmines exhibition. In 1734 the body of a former miner was discovered, perfectly preserved in salt. Records describe the corpse as being "pressed flat as a board and features worn away by stone. Clothing and tools quite unusual, but completely intact." The Dachstein/Lake Hallstatt Region is a designated UNESCO Natural and World Cultural Heritage Site.

This honour has of course much to do with the 7000 year tradition of salt mining in Hallstatt. Miners used to live in the high-lying valley which visitors can reach today by means of a cable car in just a few minutes. The story of the "man in salt" is true, and it is perfectly possible that one day another "man in salt" will be discovered in the mines.

Information at a glance

  • Accessibility/arrival
    Bycar: parking area on P1, P2 and P3
    By train: arriving in Hallstatt you take the ferry to Hallstatt, from the pier you walk 2 minutes | Homepage Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB)
    Bybus: you arrive directly on the busterminal, from there it is a walk about 10 minutes. | Homepage Postbus
  • Contact
    Tourist Office Hallstatt

    Ferienregion Dachstein Salzkammergut /
    Tourismusverband Inneres Salzkammergut
    Seestraße 114
    4830 Hallstatt
    Phone: +43 (0) 5 95095 30
    Fax: +43 (0) 5 95095 74
    E-Mail: hallstatt@dachstein-salzkammergut.at
    Opening hours
    Tourist Office Hallstatt

    Monday - Friday
    08:30 - 12:30
    13:00 - 17:00
    Please note
    Subject to change

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