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Join us for an adventurous treasure hunt in the Altaussee salt mine!

If you are a small adventurer or big history fan searching for a great excursion destination, then Salzwelten Altaussee in the Styrian Salzkammergut region is definitely the right place for you! Although… The treasure hunt you will embark on here, deep underground, actually has practically nothing at all to do with gold and precious jewels. It’s far more about glistening orangey-red passageways and mysterious subterranean chapels, looted art treasures and a shimmering mirrorlike salt lake. Though also, of course, “white gold” – salt, in other words, which has been mined here in Austria’s biggest still active salt mine since the early Middle Ages. So, join us on a unique treasure hunt in the depths of Sandling mountain!

Starting point for the 90-minute subterranean treasure hunt is the Steinberghaus.

And by the way: Before throwing yourself into the adventure, you might want to pay a visit to a fun cartoon exhibition first. Also bear in mind: Inside the mountain, the temperature is about 8°C year-round and the ground itself is uneven – so, warm clothes and sturdy shoes are also advisable in summer. Furthermore, you will have a 2.5 km walk ahead of you through this “mountain of treasures”. And now, all decked out in special protective gear, your adventure can begin …

It’s amazing how everything sparkles and glistens! In the historic Altaussee salt mine, a very extraordinary treasure accompanies you every step of the way: You see, the tunnels consist of pure rock salt! In the light of the lamps, the walls glisten and shimmer in the infinite hues of oranges and reds. For kilometer upon kilometer, the rock salt reveals itself in an astonishing breadth of forms and colors. Does it taste salty? How does it feel to the touch? Go ahead and find out for yourself!

Yet another treasure is waiting to be discovered roughly 700 meters below ground: the mystical Barbara Chapel. It was created back in 1935 by a group of Aussee miners – out of blocks of pure rock salt! The play of color there is truly impressive: everything shimmers in red, yellow and orange. And as the name suggests, the chapel is consecrated to Saint Barbara, the patron saint of miners. To this day, happy couples “tie the knot” beneath the eyes of the gothic statue of Saint Barbara, simultaneously gazing upon a baroque Madonna. And who knows, maybe a wedding ceremony surrounded by salt will add even more “spice” to their lives?

One interesting detail, incidentally, is a depiction of Saint Egidius. He is the patron saint of Altaussee and the reason why the famous Altausseer Kirtag fair is always celebrated on the first weekend after his feast day on 1 September.

The miners’ slides are guaranteed to be an especially fun and exciting part of your mine tour. The miners of old used them in order to move swiftly between two tiers of the salt mine. In Altaussee, there are actually 18 such “horizons” in total – 11 of which can still be walked through. During this tour, you will twice slither down into the depths of the mountain by means of these wooden slides. Who knows, maybe you will even set a new speed record. And don’t forget: Smile – because you will be on “candid” camera! However, if all of this excitement is a little too much for you, you are also welcome to take the stairs instead …

Yet another precious moment in the course of your tour comes in the form of a subterranean salt lake. The dark water appears to come from a whole other world, seemingly endless and as flat as a mirror in the midst of a cave. Your enchantment will become complete as soon as the spectacular light and sound show, including specially composed music, begins.

The exhibition “The Fortune of Art recounts the exciting story of why the Altaussee salt mine doubled in 1943 as a warehouse for art treasures of inestimable value, and how a courageous group of Aussee miners were able to save those treasures from destruction by the National Socialists. More remarkable still: The exhibition is held at the exact location where the Nazis stored the looted art treasures – in the 270 m² “Springerwerk”. Stored within these chambers were paintings by Jan Vermeer, Pieter Brueghel and Rembrandt, though also the Tassilo Chalice from Kremsmünster Abbey, the giant bible from St. Florian’s Monastery and the spectacular Ghent Altarpiece by the brothers van Eyck.

Tassilokelch aus Stift Kremsmünster
Tassilokelch aus Stift Kremsmünster
Riesenbibel aus Stift St. Florian
Riesenbibel aus Stift St. Florian
Genter Altar der Gebrüder van Eyck
Genter Altar der Gebrüder van Eyck

The absolute prize of the hidden art treasures in Altaussee was, beyond a doubt, Michelangelo’s Madonna from the Church of our Lady in Bruges. This had been stolen from the church by the Nazis in 1944, taking an adventurous journey of its own before ending up in Altaussee. After the war, American art experts returned it undamaged to Belgium. A cast of the original statue in Bruges was made especially for the exhibition at Salzwelten Altaussee.

Incidentally: The exciting story about stolen artworks, secret hideaways in the Altaussee mine and courageous men provided much of the material for the Hollywood movie “The Monuments Men”. In the story, Hollywood stars George Clooney, Matt Damon and Bill Murray, in their roles as American art experts, saved Europe’s art treasures from destruction by the National Socialists and from the clutches of communism. Our own review: Exciting heroics start to finish! Though let’s be quite honest: The original Altaussee story is every bit its equal!

Tip: adventurous expeditions underground

A little bit removed from the regular tour routes inside Salzwelten Altaussee, a selection of special guided tours are also offered. Particularly atmospheric: an evening tour through the “Mountain of Treasures”.
 

Have our spectacular pictures from the depths of the mountain whet your appetite to set out on your own personal treasure hunt? In that case, now’s the perfect time to pick up your practical online ticket – no need to wait in line, admission guaranteed at the exact time you book.

Salzwelten Destination Guide & Audio Guide

Hier können Sie sich Ihren Audioguide für die Salzwelten herunterladen. Es sind die Standorte Hallein, Hallstatt und Altaussee auf dieser App zusammengefasst.