Gastein Valley Attractions Gasteiner Tal
Very popular with tourists, the Gasteiner Tal, 40km/25mi in length, climbs in two "steps" through the wildly romantic Gasteiner Klamm (gorge) from the Salzachtal and heads south towards the Hohe Tauern.
Large numbers of visitors are drawn to the valley by the radon mineral springs of Badgastein and the beautiful scenery. In addition to the world famous spa of Badgastein there are the modern health resort of Bad Hofgastein, the quiet little country resort of Dorfgastein and the village of Böckstein at the head of the valley. The source of the valley of the Gasteiner Ache lies in the glaciated main ridge of the Hohe Tauern. In recent years the area has developed into an extensive skiing region. The valley is transversed by a federal highway and the Tauernbahn (railroad), which cuts through the main ridge of the Tauern in a tunnel 8.5km/5.25mi long and was for many years, until the opening of the Felber-Tauern Tunnel, the quickest route from northern Austria into Carinthia (motorail service between Böckstein and Mallnitz).
To the south of the Gasteiner Klamm, through which the Gasteiner Ache surges tumultuously down between almost vertical rock walls, lies Dorfgastein (836m/2,743ft), on the lowest "step" of the valley. (The road bypasses the gorge in a tunnel). This is a quiet little summer and winter sports resort (pop. 1,400) with an open-air swimming pool heated by solar energy (32 deg C/90 deg F). The 14th C. parish church has been partly remodeled in Baroque style. There is a chair lift to the Brandelalm (1,500m/4,920ft).
Bad Hofgastein, Austria
Bad Hofgastein (870m/2,854ft; pop. 6,000), long the chief town in the valley, is an old-established spa and winter sports resort. In the 16th C., thanks to its gold mines, it was, after Salzburg, the richest town in the province. The Weitmoserschlössl (15th C.; now a restaurant) was the home of the Weitmosers, a wealthy mining family. The Late Gothic parish church (1498-1507) has a fine Baroque altar. The various sanatoria and treatment establishments as well as the modern Alpenthermalbad (Alpine Thermal Baths) are supplied with water from the radioactive springs at Badgastein, and are used most often for the treatment of rheumatism. Leisure activities are also catered to in the extensive Kurzentrum (treatment complex) and Kurpark which is notable for Alpine flora. A footpath affording extensive views leads past the Cafe Gamskar to Badgastein (2.25 hours).
Badgastein (840-1,100m/2,757-3,610ft; pop. 6,000) was already renowned for its medicinal waters in the Middle Ages, and in the 19th C. it became world famous when it attracted the patronage of royalty and prominent figures from many countries. The radioactive mineral water is used in both bathing and drinking cures for various complaints. Among the many treatment facilities available is the Felsenbad, blasted from the rock, with both indoor and outdoor baths. By the upper falls on the Ache, which flows through the town, stands the modern Treatment and Conference Complex (Kurund Kongresszentrum), with a museum. To the north stands the Late Gothic St Nicholas' Church, with fine frescos in the choir and nave, and a Gothic marble pulpit. There is a footpath from Badgastein to Böckstein (one hour).
At the head of the Gastein valley, on the upper "step", nestles the old village of Böckstein (1,131m/3,711ft), with its Baroque pilgrimage and parish church (1766) the domed ceiling of which has frescos depicting groups of miners. Also worth seeing is the Böcksteiner Montanmuseum Hohe Tauern (coal and steel museum) in Altböckstein.
Radhausberg - Thermal Treatment Tunnels
To the west of Böckstein rises the Radhausberg, with gold mines which were worked from time immemorial (most recently in 1910-27 and 1938-44; a gold-mining museum is in course of construction). A shaft 2.4km/1.5mi long driven through the hill in 1940 was converted after the war into a new form of treatment facility, using the warm (up to 41.6 deg C/106.9 deg F), humid and radioactive air in the tunnel. Patients are conveyed by electric railroad to the treatment rooms in the tunnel.
The heights around the Gasteiner Tal resorts are brought within easy reach by various chair lifts and cableways. The Gasteiner Tal gives the visitor the opportunity of combining winter sports with a thermal bath. The best views are from the Stubnerkogel (2,246m/7,369ft; cableways from Badgastein station go up to 2,231m/7,320ft). The Graukogel (2,492m/8,180ft) can be reached from the upper station on the Reicheben-Alm (1,983m/6,506ft) by way of the Hüttenkogel (2,331m/7,648ft) in an easy walk of 1.5 to 2 hours. From Bad Hofgastein there are cableways to the Schlossalm (1,965m/6,447ft) and the Hohe Scharte (2,300m/7,550ft). There is also a rewarding 4.5 hours' climb from Hofgastein by way of the Rastötzen-Alm (1,727m/5,666ft; refreshments) to the summit of the Gamskarkogel (2,465m/8,088ft; inn in summer).
To the southwest of Böckstein stretches the Nassfelder Tal, a favorite skiing and walking area, watered by the Ache. A toll road from Böckstein leads past a series of waterfalls - the Kesselfall, the Schleierfall (100m/330ft high) and the Bärenfall - up to the Nassfeld (1,588m/5,210ft), with the new winter sports resort of Sportgastein (cableways, ski lifts).
Klammstein im Gasteinar Tal (Entrische Kirche)
Klammstein im Gasteinar Tal (Entrische Kirche) is open in April, May and October on weekends and holidays, between 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.