After a day and a half in Salzburg, we continued to Hallstatt. We decided to visit Hallstatt, a small village in Salzkammergut region since during my Austria research, this name kept popping. Hallstatt appeared almost in all top ten attraction/things to do in Austria lists.
Map of the area:
But besides being very picturesque, the main reason ancient people were drawn to this area is salt.
Salzwelten Salt Mines
Visiting Salt Mines in Austria is a popular tourist attraction. And Salzwelten Salt Mines is one of the popular ones. Thus, in order to skip long lines, I pre-ordered tickets online. But, as it turned out, there was no need. The groups were full, but there were no queues. Maybe because it still was not the peak season (our visit was in mid-April).
We had tickets for 11 am (the plan was to leave Salzburg by 9 am). We reached Hallstatt only at 10:50, but the salt mines are located high in the mountains. First, we took the 11 am funicular. AFAIR it runs every 30 min, but maybe it is actually 15.
Then when you get up, you have another 10-15 min walk to the Salzwelten Salt Mines (without stopping at the POI on the way).
As you can see funicular station is #1 (at the bottom of the map) and the tour starts at #9.
Salzwelten Salt Mines Tour
In the end, we joined the 11:30 group (instead of 11:00). But nobody told us anything.
First, the whole group (probably around 40 people) entered the changing room. We were asked to deposit our bags and then each got clothes. The clothes were a pair of big pants and a big shirt. We put these clothes on top of our own clothes. My guess is that the main purpose is to keep your clothes clean.
After adding a clothing layer we passed through several showrooms and then climbed the stairs towards the cave.
Entrance to Christina Cave that is active from 1719 until this day.On the photo above you can also see our protective clothes (each color means a different size).
Inside The Cave
Our tour was both in English and in German. Inside we got various explanations, starting with how salt got into mountains.
Basically, many years ago this was a sea. But as mountains formed, this area rose up. So today you got sea salt trapped high in the mountains.
You can slide by yourself or in pairs (especially useful with children).
The second slide was a little longer and in the middle, there was a camera. It took photos and you can purchase your photo on exit for 5 euro. There was also a TV showing the photos and sliding speed. Most people slid down at 20-25 km/h.
Mining Methods and Salt Usages
Instead, today they use wet mining. Wet mining reminds oil extraction. They dig a bore, insert a pipe and pump water. On the other side, they receive brine (solution of salt and water). And then they filter the salt.
At the end of the tour, we returned back to the changing room. Took off the protective clothes, got our bags back and bought the photo of us sliding. Also, each of us received a 10g salt jar.
Since we were in a hurry when going up we skipped this mirrored building on the left. It tells the story of an ancient graveyard found on this site. It is believed that ancient people who worked in the mines are buried here. And since there is a lot of salt it helped to preserve both the bodies and the relics.
Skywalk of Hallstatt
This area, the panoramic elevator (#2), the restaurant (#10) and lookout platform (#11), is called Skywalk of Hallstatt. Skywalk present beautiful views of this area. Here is a view towards the restaurant.
Hallstatt from above:
Lookout platform with the valley:
The restaurant and the lookout platform:
When we reached the funicular I realized I made a mistake. At the end of the tour I threw away the tickets, but we needed them to go down. Luckily I had the file on my phone. And after several attempts of attaching my phone’s screen to the scanner it worked. So don’t repeat my mistake and keep the tickets till you get down.
Walk in Hallstatt
Hallstatt is a small village and car parking, funicular station and the village itself is all within 10 min walk. Thus, when we got down we decided to walk along the main street of the village.
Hallstatt is a touristic place and many stores and services are aimed at tourists. But the nice thing is that you can also find handmade souvenirs as well.
An interesting thing we saw several times in the village is trees that are attached to houses.
Hallstatt Lutheran Church:
After some climbing we reached the graveyard next to the Catholic parish church (in the background):
Interior of the Catholic parish church:
And here is a panorama from the church:
Another tree attached to a house and this time there is a tree log that serves as a ladder for a cat (with a small door in the window).
Closeup of an Alpine house:
Several more house attached trees:
And this is probably the classical view of Hallstatt:
Boat Ride in Hallstatt
By this point, we were quite tired but still wanted to see more of this village. Thus we saw boat rides we decided to go for it.
There are several stations with small boats for rent. But since it was getting late they were closed. What we saw was actually a boat bus. It goes to the train station on the other side of the lake and back. The roundtrip ride costs 5 euro per person and it is about 10 min of sailing each way (with about 10 min break next to the train station).
Since it’s a beautiful village, some couples decide to come there to take pre-wedding photos. And there was one couple on our boat:
Sailing back to the village:
Catholic parish church:
As I mentioned, it was getting late and we started walking towards car parking. On our way we passed the main square (Marktplatz):
And then we saw this woman, she was returning back home after work. The interesting thing that she didn’t need to cross to the other side of the lake, but still preferred using the boat.
We returned to the parking lot. The tariff was about 8 euro for almost the whole day (11 – 19). And we headed to B&B.
Night Stay at Gosau
Our B&B was in Gosau, which is about 10 min drive.
When we drove in the morning to Hallstatt we used the same road (#166). And I saw a stream with three small bridges. Since our way back was during the golden hour we decided to stop. And the following two photos is the result.
The next morning, when the first rays of sun started hitting the land we saw this:
We left Gosau and returned to Hallstatt since there was one more place we wanted to visit there.
The building of Hallstatt Museum:
Ammonites are clear evidence for an ancient sea (see Ammonite Wall in Ramon Crater for more info).
And this is the salt from the ancient sea:
Ancient people (mostly women) used to carry salt out of the caves using this type of “bags”.
This museum is not only about salt, but also about the life of people in this area.
And this diagram shows the graveyard (each marking is a burial place), the remains of which we saw yesterday in the mountains.
The museum is not big but quite nice. Our visit took about two hours.
I noticed throughout our visit in Austria is that explanations in museums and tours are shorter in English. If you have 100% of the explanations in German, then there is only 80% in English. The same was for this museum. But, if there were no English explanations our museum tour would have been much shorter.
Where? You will find out in the next post 😉
To find out more check out Cinemagraphs – Photos with Motion from Austria.
Note: all posts from the trip to Austria can be found at 11 Days in Austria.
That’s all for today and I’ll see you in future travels!