Austrian Adventures 3: Salt Miners for the Day
You will know me by now as somebody who likes to plan! So yes, indeed, I had a few plans for what to do and see in Austria and on my definite to-do-list was the Salzwelten in Hallstatt. A scenic train ride from our house- and pet-sitting home in Bad Ischl.
The salt mine in Hallstatt is the oldest salt mine in the world and offers some very funky extras. To reach it you take a short funicular railway ride, followed by a stroll onto a free-floating Skywalk with stunning views over the Hallstatt lake below.
Then you head up to the mine itself where your first task is to put on some colourful protective suits (over your other clothes) before your tour through the mine. It is still a working mine although you see very little of the operations when on the tour because the focus is all on the history side of things.
We've been in quite a few caves so we love those long winding walks through tunnels where you never quite know what is awaiting you inside. We had told Corwin about one of the really funky aspects of the mine - the wooden slides which take you from one level to the one below - and rather than sweet anticipation it seemed to fill him with dread. We had extensive discussions about gradients, lengths, alternatives to sliding. Which stressed me out no end because I so badly wanted to go on it MYSELF. The prospect of trudging down a set of stairs fulfilled me with despair (you are never too old for some sliding fun!)
Fortunately, after finally seeing it for real the worries dissipated quite quickly and Corwin was happy to join in with the fun. Stewart and he could slide next to each other as there are two parallel slides. I went last and wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee - that WAS fun. I actually now really want one for home!
There was of course a lot of educational talk about salt, which was really interesting as it's one of those items of everyday life you think about very little. So it was really fascinating to learn more about how salt is mined and prepared for eating. A very arty light show added another dimension to the visit, which was really well paced and structured. We could have gone on for ages as around every corner was something special!
The most special attraction awaited us near the very end of the tour. There are several Salzwelten in Austria and what this one in Hallstatt is famous for is the history of Bronze Age mining. The oldest wooden staircase ever found in Europe is actually inside this very mine. Discovered in 2002 it was put back inside the mine after some scientific research. A new “Bronze Age Cinema” was built in which visitors can see the actual staircase with a film animation being projected onto it, showing what daily life was like for workers back in the Bronze Age. Very, very special and impressive!
After enjoying this special treat the last treat awaited us. A little train to take up back to the exit of the mine. All in all a wonderful memorable experience. We may treat ourselves to one of the other Salzwelten on our next Austria visit! (By the way they ALL have slides!)
About the Author
About Me & Mine
Monika (an Austrian in Scotland), Stewart (a true Highlander) and Corwin (8), plus 2 dogs and 5 cats. We live on a woodland croft in the parish of Assynt, in the far North West Highlands of Scotland.
Favourite place in the world:
Home - we are lucky to have mountains and beaches on our doorstep and Scotland generally; but we also love the mountains in my native Austria and have a soft spot for California, where we spent our honeymoon.
Favourite things to do outdoors:
Explovering (our personal term for exploring and discovering) mountains, lochs and beaches, camping, foraging, star gazing, Geocaching, developing our already wonderful woodlands into a magic place to share with family, friends and neighbours and fishing.