Fascinating History of the Salzberg
If you hike through the mysterious tunnels of Salzburg Salt Mine, you will be accompanied by a millennia-old history with every step you take. Even back in the Neolithic Age, people were already wresting "white gold" from the depths of the Dürrnberg.
Prehistoric salt mining on the Dürrnberg began in the 6th century BC. Back then, during the so-called Ice Age – around 2600 years ago – Celts settled the Dürrnberg, exploiting the rich salt deposits there for their own benefit: “white gold” provided the foundation for their existence, securing them many years of work and prosperity. This is attested to by elaborate everyday items such as artistically decorated jugs, which you can view at the Celtic Museum in Hallein. Objects made of gold, coral and amber have also be found in the area of the Dürrnberg. This also shows us that the Celts had trading relationships that extended far beyond the region’s borders.
Decline and Rebirth
With the arrival of the Romans, salt mining initially came to a standstill. Not until the 12th century – in the year 1191, to be precise – was new life breathed into salt mining on the Dürrnberg. And in fact, by no other than the prince-archbishops of Salzburg. “White Gold” became the source of their wealth, attested to by the magnificent baroque architecture we encounter in Salzburg City to this very day. In July 1989, active salt mining on the Dürrnberg officially came to an end. The salt mine had remained in operation for an astonishing 800 years. During this time, the Dürrnberg outside Hallein produced around 45 million m³ of brine and some 12 million tons of salt.
Would you like to learn more about the fascinating history of the Celts? At SALINA Celtic Village, you are greeted by a replica of the world the Celts once lived in, true to the smallest detail. And admission is included free of charge with your ticket from the salt mine.
Also at the Celtic Museum in Hallein, you can penetrate deep into Celtic times. Just show your ticket from the salt mine and you will get a reduced entrance at the museum.
Salt Mining on the Dürrnberg: Historical Data
|4000 BC||Local peoples use natural salt-water springs to produce salt.|
|ca. 600 BC||The Celts begin mining salt for the first time. The prehistoric mine system extends 4.5 km to a depth of 280 meters.|
|200 AD||Less and less salt mining on the Dürrnberg|
|696||Itinerant preacher St. Rupert establishes St. Peter's Abbey. Duke Theodor of Bavaria donates 20 salt-water springs in Reichenhall.|
|1196||Battle for "white gold": Archbishop Adalbert of Salzburg has the town of Reichenhall and its salt works burned to the ground.|
|1210||In Mühlpach (Hallein), one of the first salt pans is operated.|
|1271||First agreement between the Berchtesgaden Provostry and the Salzburg Archbishopric to coordinate salt mining across borders.|
|1295||Soldiers of the Salzburg archbishops destroy the salt pan in Gosau and set fire to the salt works in Aussee.|
|1315 - 1450||Several new mines are begun and salt mining expands.|
|1530||Archbishop Mathias Lang buys up the last shares of the salt works in Hallein and completes the centuries-long process of establishing a monopoly.|
|1542||Production reaches an annual volume of 22,000 tons.|
|1607||The first guests tour the mine. Since then, the mine has welcomed almost 5 million visitors.|
|1816||Salzburg annexed by Austria.|
|1862||The newly constructed cast-iron salt-water piping system goes into operation, at the Augustiner salt works and the big salt works on the Pernerinsel.|
|1871||Extension of the train line from Salzburg to Hallein: As a result, shipping on the River Salzach comes to a virtual standstill, leaving hundreds of workers in related industries penniless.|
|1928||Ebenseer Solvay Werke establishes itself in the unused buildings of the salt works.|
|1928 - 1943||Five drills are conducted in search of new salt deposits at the initiative of mining inspector Romed Plank.|
|1971||Maximum output of 72,230 tons of salt annually is reached. However, production of table salt has to be ceded to Ebensee, which makes it impossible to produce salt at a profit in Hallein.|
|1972||Major crisis in salt mining and at the Hallein salt works.|
|1979||Opening of a salt works in Ebensee, making the prospects for the Hallein salt works even more grim.|
|31.7.1989||Brine and salt production come to an end in Hallein.|
|1994||Opening of a visitor area along with above-ground facilities.|