Salz aus den Salzwelten Hallein
Österreich Werbung / Peter Rigaud
Ramsaustraße 3, 5422 Bad Dürrnberg, Austria

Visit the Hallein Salt Mine

You can visit one of the oldest salt mines in the world at Hallein near Salzburg. Its salt provided a livelihood for local people, brought riches to the archbishops, and built the magnificent city of Salzburg we admire today.

 

You can visit one of the oldest salt mines in the world at Hallein near Salzburg. Its salt provided a livelihood for local people, brought riches to the archbishops, and built the magnificent city of Salzburg we admire today.

Visiting the Hallein Salt Mine

Your journey into the history of Hallein Salt Mine begins with a comfortable train ride into the mountain, where experienced miners guide you and explain the mining process. You will also enjoy a raft ride across an underground lake and an exciting descent on two mining slides.
The tunnel system is maintained to prevent the mountain from sinking. Of the original 65 km (40 mi) of mining tunnels, which pass through 21 underground levels, known as horizons, some 12 km (9 mi) and 9 horizons can still be accessed today.

  • Winter season: open daily from 10am to 3pm
  • Summer season: open daily from 9am to 5pm

Ticket prices:

  • Adults € 23 (£ 20), children € 11.50 (£ 10), family discounts available

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The world of salt mines

So-called “white gold” made the Salzkammergut district rich. Visitors travelling on the old salt route through this exciting region follow in the footsteps of historic figures: miners from the grim and distant past, an old emperor in his villa, and courageous mountain-dwellers who foiled the Nazis. But what does George Clooney have to do with all this?

A Visit to the Salt Mine

When Helmut Tucek guides visitors through his “Salzkammer” shop in St. Wolfgang and tells them about salt, the urge to immediately sample from the salt mixtures in the small, ornamented wooden drawers is nearly irresistible. “Natural salt is more than just sodium and chloride”, says Herr Tucek, holding up a gleaming stone that represents the origins of all the salt here. “This Bergkern salt from Aussee contains no fewer than eighty-four minerals. These are all elements that are also present in our bodies, which is why this salt has such a soothing effect on our organism”. Unlike its commercially produced counterpart, this transparent, reddish-gold salt does not have a negative impact on our blood pressure or circulation, and due to its many minerals, it also tastes much better.

A Spectacular Region

Austria's Salt Trail is truly one of the most spectacular areas in all of Europe. From tranquil St. Wolfgang, where Herr Tucek sells his “white gold”, not far from the famous Romantik Hotel Im Weissen Rössl, the journey leads over hills and mountain passes into the heart of the salt region to Hallstatt, where millennia ago people were already mining salt and delivering it throughout Europe. On the way, visitors can experience first-hand the charm of the Salzkammergut, where one romantic lake follows directly on the heels of another. This allure comes from the contrasts; the pastoral meets the untamed, and the soft encounters the harsh. This is a region full of history history, especially around the darkly sparkling Lake Hallstatt, nestled in a high valley some 300 m (984 ft) above sea level. Here, on the famous Salzberg, one finds the world’s oldest salt mine. The Salzberg Valley offers visitors an astounding 7,000 years of cultural history.

Slide Down into the Mine

Today, salt continues to be mined in Hallstatt. But for modern-day visitors to the Hallstatt salt mine, the focus is on fun and adventure. The descent into the mine via two miners’ slides, complete with a speed check and photograph, is a favourite attraction. By seeing the mine, visitors can finally find out - and really understand - how the salt got into the mountain. When the supercontinent Pangaea broke apart some 240 million years ago, the Salzkammergut lay on the coast of a turbulent body of land. Over millions of years, dried-out salt seas were moved around by volcanic eruptions, formation of mountains, and shifting rock plates. They were forced upward, pressed together, and covered with a layer of limestone. Inside these new mountains, the salt rested until it was discovered by humans several thousand years ago.

A Bit of Salt History

Even at that time, salt was shipped from Bad Ischl via the Traun River to the Danube, where it was transported on as far as Hungary, Bohemia and Slovenia. Today Bad Ischl is known as a resort with a particularly healthful climate, and as a Mecca for people nostalgic for the days of the monarchy. This was, after all, something of a second home for the emperor. Francis Joseph I spent eighty-two summers of his eighty-six-year-long life at the Imperial Villa. Bad Ischl is also the site of Austria’s oldest brine bath. Today, it is an ultramodern wellness spa whose saline water benefits the respiratory organs, the musculoskeletal system, and the cardiovascular system.

Make It a Double: Altaussee Salt Mine

From this small town at the confluence of the Traun and Ischl Rivers, the traveller crosses Pötschen Pass to reach the area known as Ausseerland and continues on to the most remote, quietest corner of the region, Altaussee. The Sandling towers over the village as the region’s most salt-rich mountain. A tour of the Altaussee Salt Mine takes visitors even deeper into the world of salt. One travels 700 metres into the mountain, and after 350 metres the salt line is reached, recognisable by the shimmering purple salt crystals in the rock.

Hollywood Comes Calling

That the salt works even still exist today can be attributed to several courageous miners from not so long ago. In 1944, the Nazis stored more than 30,000 artworks from all over Europe here – the most valuable art storeroom of all time – and at the end of the war, they intended to destroy the treasures by blowing up the mine. But the miners of Altaussee foiled their plans. In May 1945, in an act of resistance, they secretly removed the four 500 kilo (1102 lbs) aircraft bombs from the mine and defused them. The did this not only to protect themselves, but also to safeguard the future of the salt works. Only a few days later, American soldiers arrived and secured the billion-dollar art depot.

It’s a heroic little story, and it's no wonder that it even came to the attention of Hollywood. George Clooney made a film version of this episode in history under the title “The Monuments Men” - starring himself.

 

Hallein's History

Hunter-gatherers first discovered these salty mountain springs, and underground salt mining in this region dates back to the Celts. Salt enabled people to preserve food and give it flavour. Centuries later, the archbishops, rulers of Salzburg, took over the lucrative salt trade. With its profits, they developed it into an opulent, Baroque residence.

Since 1994 the historic salt mines in Hallein have only been open as show mines. Austria's salt supply still comes from these mountains, but from Altaussee, where the source from an ancient sea has lasted for more than 250 million years.

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