Nestled in the heart of Austria, the Salzkammergut aka Austria’s Lake District is a hidden gem that captivates visitors with its enchanting blend of imposing nature, rich culture, and deep-rooted traditions.
Whether for outdoor enthusiasts, history buffs or cultue lovers, this region offers an authentic Austrian experience like no other. Especially for those wanting to dive deep into local traditions, 2024 is THE year to visit the Salzkammergut. For the first time in the history of the European Capital of Culture 2024, the award has gone to an Alpine region rather than one city.
The Salzkammergut region, spanning across the provinces of Upper Austria, Styria and SalzburgerLand is renowned for its magnificent lakes, in total over 75, surrounded by mountains and forests. The eight districts, one of them a UNESCO World Heritage site, showcase the splendour of these waters. Lake Wolfgangsee, Lake Attersee and Lake Altaussee are among locals’ favourites.
Whether hiking, cycling or simply relaxing at the lakes, the region offers endless opportunities to savour its scenic background. There are numerous hiking trails that wind through forests, fantastic panoramic views when venturing to the peaks of the Dachstein Alps or various boat trips on the lakes. The Salzkammergut region also provides exciting water sport adventures, like sailing or paddleboarding. In winter the Salzkammergut transforms into a wonderland for gentle snow sport enthusiasts with snowshoeing and winter hiking opportunities.
Unearthing the “White Gold” Legacy of 7000 years
The name of the Salzkammergut traces back to the region’s fascinating history and identiy. It literally translates to “Estate of the Salt Chamber” in German attributable to the region’s crucial role as a salt producer and supplier which started over 7,000 years ago. The salt in the mountains of the Salzkammergut was a source of immense wealth and strategic importance and is often referred to as “White Gold”. The term “Kammer” alludes to the Habsburg Monarchy’s salt chamber, which managed the extraction, processing and trade of this precious mineral.
Summer Retreats and Cultural Inspirations
During summer months, the region’s idyllic villages and cool alpine air drew in European nobility, particularly Emporer Franz Joseph I. and Empress Elisabeth “Sisi”. Not only did the Habsburg Monarchy hold a deep affection for the Salzkammergut, but it has also been a cherished location for artists, writers and composers seeking creative inspiration. Renowned figures such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Gustav Klimt and Franz Schubert found artistic inspiration in this region. Hotels, coffee houses and promenades were built to function as the new playground for Austria’s high society and became the place of creation for some of their most iconic works. The tradition of “Sommerfrische” or summer holidays in the Salzkammergut was born and has been enchanting visitors for generations.
Where History meets the Future
In 2024 Bad Ischl and 22 towns in the Salzkammergut region will become European Capital of Culture, awarded annually by the European Commission since 1985. Under the theme “Culture is the new salt”, the Salzkammergut showcases its cultural legacy combined with contemporary influence. The multifaceted program will, on one hand, celebrate the historical and artistic diversity of the towns, while also, on the other hand, delve into pressing issues such as overtourism and how to create an attractive living space for young people. One standout initative within the program is “The Big Green Project”, uniting theatres, art collectives and municipalities to explore climate change through an artistic and cultural lens. Across all program lines, the commitment to authenticity will seamlessly be integrated into everyday life and each regions’ DNA.
The magical locations, the unique cultural heritage and the vibrant array of events brought forth by the European Capital of Culture 2024 make it a destination worth exploring.
Read more here.
If you want to hear more about the region join ANTO and Destination Webinars for a 30-min live webinar on Thursday 2nd November at 8.30am or 12.30pm AEDT. Sign up here.
(Featured Image: Bad Ischl in Salzkammergut – Austrian National Tourist Office/Cross Media Redaktion)
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