History of the Salzkammergut region
Archaeological findings in the area date back to the Neolithic era, especially the stilt houses of the Mondsee group culture, who settled the region from about 3800 BC onwards. The Germanic name hall of several settlements refers to the region's numerous salt mine, which had been in use at least since the days of the Celtic Hallstatt culture, centered at the mining town of Hallstatt. These operation were continued by the Romans, after the area had been incorporated into the Noricum province in 15 BC. A Roman settlement and salt evaporation pond at Hallstatt is documented about 100, affected by several Germanic invasions after the Marcomannic Wars, until the province was finally evacuated at the behest of the Italian king Odoacer in 488.
From about 530, Bavarii tribes settled the region from the west, they met with Alpine Slavs who had moved northwards through the Enns Valley and across the Dachstein Mountains. From 900 salt trade is again documented along the Traun River, when the area was part of the Traungau region of the German stem duchy of Bavaria, held by the comital dynasty of the Otakars, who from 1056 also ruled over the neighbouring March of Styria. While most of the Traungau fell to the Babenberg duchy of Austria upon the deposition of the Bavarian duke Henry the Lion in 1180, the southeastern Ausseerland remained with the newly established Duchy of Styria, which nevertheless from 1192 was held in personal union by the Austrian Babenbergs.
In 1278 King Rudolph I of Germany, a scion of the Sawabian House of Habsburg, finally seized both duchies from King Ottokar II of Bohemia, whom he defeated in the Battle on the Marchfeld. Rudolph's son King Albert I of Germany defended his hegemony against the rivaling Prince-Archbishops of Salzburg in the west and in 1298 made the lands of Ischl a present to his wife Countess Elisabeth of Gorizia-Tyrol. The Habsburg officials resided at Wildenstein Castle near Ischl and the surrounding estates were called Kammergut, as first documented in a 1656 deed. The salt mines were immediate domains of the Habsburg King of the Romans and mining part of his princely regalia. They were administrated by the financial aulic chamber at Vienna, represented by the salt chamber (Salzamt) in Gmunden. Emperor Maximilian I added to the territory the estates of Mondsee Abbey in 1506.
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Information at a glance
- Transportation Tip: Travel simply and quickly to the UNESCO World Hertiage Region of Hallstatt Dachstein Salzkammergut with the Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB). All aboard . . . !