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    Bad Ischl: The Salzkammergut's secret capital

    Bad Ischl is an imperial city, spa town and in 2024, it will be the focal point of the European Capital of Culture Bad Ischl Salzkammergut 2024. The symbiosis of architecture, culture and tradition reflect the history and artistic diversity of the town - pointing the way into the future. Bad Ischl’s beauty and relaxing effect has been appreciated by holiday makers for centuries – spearheaded by Emperor Franz Franz Joseph.

    Salzkammergut Bad Ischl - Lehar Villa

    Architecture in Bad Ischl

    Bad Ischl’s architecture is a mix of historic buildings, traditional Alpine architecture, and influences from various eras. The city by the river Traun is also considered the birthplace of the "Sommerfrische," a summer holiday that takes you out of the city to enjoy the cooler climate of the mountains. The trend was started when Emperor Franz Joseph I. and Empress Sisi went there on holiday and were copied first by members of the aristocracy, then industrial magnates and finally the bourgeoisie.

    Hotels, coffee houses, casinos, and promenades were built to be the new playground for Austria’s high society and onlookers from all over Europe. Many artists, such as Anton Bruckner, Johannes Brahms and Franz Lehár, discovered the magic of a summer holiday in the countryside as well. These holiday makers built fantastic villas for themselves and it is these buildings that dominate the face of the town to this day.

    Architectural Highlights

    •                         Salzkammergut Bad Ischl - Kaiservilla exterior view / Kaiservilla Bad Ischl


      In Bad Ischl, Emperor Franz Joseph met his Sisi, got engaged pretty much immediately and was given this villa as a betrothal present.
    •                         Zauner Café and Cake Shop

      Café-Konditorei Zauner

      In the mood for coffee and cake? Since 1832, this pastry shop and former purveyor to the court (k. u. k. Hofzuckerbäcker) has been the go-to coffee house in Bad Ischl.
    •                         Salzkammergut Bad Ischl - Lehar Villa

      Lehár Villa

      Franz Lehár wrote the operettas „Der Zarewitsch“, „Paganini“ and „Das Land des Lächelns“ in his villa by the Traun river.
      Lehár Villa
    •                         View from Katrinberg to Bad Ischl


      In 15 minutes, a 4-person gondola sweeps visitors up the mountain to the idyllic nature preserve around the Katrin-Alm.
      Katrin Gondola
    •                         Salzkammergut Bad Ischl - Villa Seilern

      Villa Seilern

      Elise, Countess of Seilern-Aspang held court in this splendid villa. Guests such as Alexander Girardi and Johann Strauss provided entertainment.
      Villa Seilern
    •                         The Trinkhalle in Bad Ischl / Bad Ischl


      This former wellness temple is now a venue for art events. Tip: The crafts market during the Advent season is a true highlight.
      Meetingplace for culture
    •                         Salzkammergut - Bad Ischl / Bad Ischl


      The old brewhouse is being revitalised as a venue for the European Capital of Culture 2024. In former times, brine was processed to salt at this location.
    •                         Kurpark mit dem Kongress & TheaterHaus in Bad Ischl / Bad Ischl


      This is a venue where both culture fans as well as those seeking rest and relaxation will find contentment.

    Event Highlights during the European Capital of Culture Year 2024 in Bad Ischl

    •                         View of the Esplanade in Bad Ischl / Bad Ischl

      Salt, Water, Wood & Art

      The main exhibition will focus on the elements salt, water and wood with objects, film, and photography as well as installations.
      At the Sudhaus
    •                         Landscape seen from a train

      Salt Lake Cities

      Revitalising abandoned train stations through art: Young artists craft, discuss and present their works.
    •                         Hallstatt


      For the first time ever, a 360°-dome will be combined with a salt-water floating facility to create the illusion of virtually floating into space on a salt tiller.
      A boat ride into space

    Bruckner Year 2024: 200th Birthday of Anton Bruckner

    •                 St. Florian Abbey in Upper Austria

      Anton Bruckner’s unusual composition style still influences the music world of today. In 2024, Upper Austria will celebrate his 200th birthday with an impressive program.

      Jubilee Year

    Summer Holidays in the Salzkammergut

    Portrait of Emperor Franz Joseph - Kaiservilla Bad Ischl, Salzkammergut / Kaiservilla Bad Ischl

    Were did it all start?

    With the emperor, of course. His parents had remained childless for a long time until they travelled to Bad Ischl to bathe in the healing saline waters. Soon after, Franz Joseph was born. This basically made him a son of Bad Ischl and he spent 83 out of his 86 summers there.

    Of course, an emperor never travelled alone. The longer Franz Joseph reigned, the larger the entourage became that accompanied him on his summer holiday. At some point, seemingly half of Vienna relocated to Bad Ischl for the summer months. “In Ischl, I always feel as though the surrounding mountains are some kind of decoration that someone draped around Vienna’s Ringstrasse Boulevard,” said satirist Karl Kraus. By then, the small Bad Ischl had turned into an imperial spa town.

    View from Katrinberg to Bad Ischl

    The emperor seems to have loved Bad Ischl mostly because of the surrounding nature. He used to leave town in the early morning to roam the surrounding mountains and enjoy the hours when he was - finally - free from any obligations.

    The fact that there are over 1000 hunting trophies mounted on the walls of the imperial villa has probably less to do with the thrill of the hunt than the opportunity for freedom which every single hunting expedition provided.

    The Imperial Villa (Kaiservilla) in Bad Ischl is so large that in many other places, it might be called a palace. The furniture is surprisingly comfortable and one gets the impression the villa’s inhabitants just left for a daytrip that morning and will be back in the evening. Even the desk in the study seems as if someone had just left it for a brief break. This is where the emperor wrote the manifesto „An meine Völker!“, to declare the war on Serbia which ended in a catastrophe for Europe.

    Bad Ischl Trivia


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