Hallstätter See & Hallstatt
The Hallstätter See, a mountain lake in the Salzkammergut, lies at the northern foot of the mighty Dachstein in the glacial Trog valley, and is watered by the River Traun. The lake is 8.5km/5.25mi long, 1-2km/0.75-1.5mi wide and some 125m/400ft deep. Surrounded as it is by steep wooded slopes the lake has a certain fjord-like character. Villages on its banks include Obertraun (at the entrance of the river), Steeg (where the river exits the lake) and Hallstatt. The first phase of the European Iron Age (eighth-fourth century B.C.) is known as the Hallstatt Period, characterized by the bronze and iron grave goods found in the numerous tombs on the Salzberg.
The little market town of Hallstatt (511m/1,677ft; pop. 1,400), one of the most attractive places in the Salzkammergut, is picturesquely set on the southwest side of the Hallstätter See, on a narrow tract of alluvial land deposited by the Mühlbach (waterfall). Like Hallein, it also takes its name (hall, "salt") from the salt mine here which has been worked since prehistoric times.
Church of Our Lord
By the side of the Hallstätter See in Hallstatt stands the Christuskirche (church of Our Lord; 1859-61) with its slender spire. It is worth a visit for its fine organ (1790) and altarpiece (1895).
The Prehistoric Museum (Seestrasse No. 56) contains material from the Hallstatt excavations. Extensive trade in salt brought in bronze jewelry from northern Italy and amber from the Baltic.
The Heimatmuseum (local museum) now occupies the oldest secular building in Hallstatt (14th C.). It explains the geological structure of the Dachstein-Plassen region (the work of Dr F. Simony) and documents the animal life of the lake and mountains. Christmas cribs and religious folk art are also displayed.
Hallstatt - Salt Mine and Museum
Above Hallstatt, to the northwest, rises the Salzberg ("Salt Mountain", 1,030m/3,379ft). It can be reached by taking the cableway from Lahn and then continuing on foot (15-20minutes), or by walking all the way on the Salzbergweg (fine views), via the Rudolfsturm (850m/2,789ft; restaurant and lookout terrace) and the Iron Age cemetery (1.5 hours). The salt mine is open to visitors.
To the southwest of Hallstatt there is a climb (not difficult, three hours) to the Tiergartenhütte (1,457m/4,570ft; inn open in summer), from which it is another 1.25 hours to the Wiesberghaus (1,883m/6,178ft; inn) and then 1.5 hours to the Simony-Hütte (2,206m/7,235ft; inn open in summer) magnificently situated below the Hallstatt glacier. From the Simony-Hütte the Hoher Dachstein (2,995m/9,827ft), the highest peak in the Dachstein group, can be climbed in three hours.
The Dachstein Caves rank as some of the best in the Eastern Alps. Tours take visitors to the Giant Ice Cave containing frozen waterfalls and the Mammoth Cave featuring large open galleries.
Village and Lakes, Gosau, Austria
About 10km/6mi west of the Hallstätter See, before the Geschütt pass (964m/3,163ft; 17% gradient), straggles the village of Gosau (779m/2,556ft; pop. 1,800). From here a road leads southwards (7km/4.5mi) to the Vordere Gosausee (933m/3,061ft), a mountain lake enclosed by sheer rock walls, with a beautiful view across the water to the Dachstein and the Gosau glacier. A cabin cableway goes up to the Gablonzer Hütte (1,587m/5,207ft; refreshments) on the Zwieselalm, a popular skiing area with a view extending to the Hohe Tauern. From here it is a 2.5 hours' climb to the summit of the Grosser Donnerkogel.
A road (closed to cars) along the Vordere Gosausee, past the Holzmeisteralm (973m/3,192ft), leads to the Hinterer Gosausee (1,154m/3,786ft; 1.75 hours' climb), situated in a magnificent valley basin, the high walls of which give it the character of a lake normally found only in the highest of mountains. From here it is three hours to the Adamek-Hütte (2,196m/9,205ft; inn); then another three hours' rock-climbing (with guide) to the summit of the Hoher Dachstein.
More Hallstatter See & Hallstatt Pictures