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The Catholic parish church, Hallstatt

The catholic parish church in Hallstatt is a beautiful gem in the midst of the world cultural heritage village. the small Romantchurch dates back to 1181, its powerful tower dating back to the 12th century bears witness to this fact. Daringly built in the late Gothic times high up on a rock with a steep drop became finally in 1505 the existing church of today. Shortly after the church became the centre of the fight for faith and was, for a while, protestant. It remained however the always a gem in the heart of all the salt miners and wealthy salt mine lords from Salzburg, in the market square or in the yard. Since 1939 the maintenance of this gem has been in the hands of the small church community along with friends and visitors.In the year 2002 the catholic parish church was completely renovated.

Hallstatt

The town of Hallstatt stretches along a narrow strip of land between the foot of the Salzburg mountain and the shores of Lake Hallstatt. From the Muhlbach side the slag heaps that have accumulated over the centuries have been transformed into artificial headlands extending into the lake. The triangular shaped market place, which is surrounded by late Gothic style houses, marks the centre of old Hallstatt, along with the Catholic parish church of Saint Mary which was relatively unscathed by the fire of 1750.

In contrast, the southern part of the town - in der Lahn - dates mainly from the eighteenth century, most of it having been built after 1750 in the late Baroque style. Typical Hallstatt houses, which are tall and narrow, are adapted to the limited space available and the layout of the town. Some exceptional buildings from the end of the medieval era can still be seen such as the Rudolfsturm which was built at the end of the thirteenth century to protect the subterranean salt mine installations.

History

An abundance of archeological discoveries in the Salzburg Valley, which is situated above the current town of Hallstatt, has revealed signs of human habitation as far back as 2000 BC. As a result of the salt mining industry the region enjoyed economic prosperity from very early in its history, as can be seen from the exceptional quality of numerous architectural and artistic remains.
The richness of this archeological site has resulted in Hallstatt Culture being designated as the initial phase of the European Iron Age.
With authorisation from the Crown of Austria to establish markets in the fourteenth century, the town of Hallstatt experienced a period of economic renewal. Special status was accorded to those citizens known as the Salzfertiger, or salt producers. Their houses, the Salzfertigerhhauser are an excellent example of early medieval traditional architecture.
In 1750 a disastrous fire destroyed most of Hallstatts medieval town centre. The reconstruction was strongly influenced by the late Baroque period, which still characterises the town today.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century the salt industry rallied for a final period of prosperity associated with the war against Napoleonic France. Once peace was re-established, however, there was a rapid and final decline.
In spite of technological innovations following the industrial revolution the salt mine was permanently abandoned in 1965.
The regions aesthetic, cultural and natural qualities began to be recognised just as the industrial site began falling into decline. From the middle of the nineteenth century Hallstatt began to attract writers, artists, and painters, as well as tourists who enjoy the public salt water baths. (Sourve: World Heritage Cities)

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Additional Photos by George Rumpler (Budapestman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 8900 W: 3 N: 20435] (82620)
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