Hallstatt, Austria

Have you ever heard of the village called Hallstatt? Popularly known as the “pearl of Austria”, this picturesque village is located by Lake Hallstatt in the upper part of Austria and has one of the best sightseeing spots in the world. I decided to take a tour of this UNESCO World Heritage Site on my way to Salzburg from Vienna. It took me about three hours to travel by road to get there, passing through a series of winding roads surrounded by mighty grass sheathed mountains. You can also take a train, which arrives on the opposite side of the lake, and ride a boat across to Hallstatt.
 
After dining at one of the half-dozen restaurants, I went to the upper part of the town and rode a funicular that lifted me around 300 metres above the village, giving me the perfect platform to soak myself completely in the astounding view around me. The village of Obertraun nestled between a valley on the other side of the lake. We walked further up the path to the beautiful salt mines. The region of Hallstatt has large reserves of salt, with prehistoric evidence dating its extraction back to around 5000 BC, making it home to the world’s oldest salt mine. The extracted salt is transported to neighbouring towns through a Brine pipeline (brine meaning salt water), making it the world’s oldest active industrial brine pipeline. Brine still flows through the pipes to this day and we were able to walk over it on what is called the Brine-Pipeline trail—the locals call it the Strähn.

 

Hallstatt, Austria

 
5fingers is a very popular attraction in the vicinity of the village. A cable car takes you up to the peak of a mountain and you can stand on a hand-shaped platform (hence its name) and absorb the spectacular view of the Alps and the lake. However, winds blew fiercely during my visit and I was not able to visit the peak.
 
Apart from that, the Dachstein Ice Cave is located below the Dachstein plateau. Water seeps into the cave through tiny cracks and freezes to form perennial towering icicles. During the month of August, the Parsifal Dome inside the ice cave is transformed into a music concert hall, from classical to jazz music, amplified by the crystal clear ice structures.
 
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The village of Hallstatt is quite small and I was able to explore it on foot in just under an hour. We visited the Hallstatt Lutheran Church, which was situated at the heart of Hallstatt and was built during the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph I. The central museum, the Welterbemuseum Hallstatt, showcases the rich history of Hallstatt—the ancient salt mines and cemeteries, which date back to the Iron Age.
 
Towards the end, I took a quiet stroll down the road beside the lake and even after spending five long hours at this place, it didn’t cease to take my breath away.

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