The little town of Hallstatt in Austria seems to defy gravity perched on the edge of a mountain dipping into the lake below. There is one main road and everything else is little back alleys with pretty pastel-coloured buildings. It is so pretty that photos of Hallstatt don’t actually do this town justice.
It was raining on the day we went to Hallstatt. I’ve heard though that this town gets more than its fair share of rain due to its topography.
Historically, Hallstatt was known for salt mining. Salt brought a lot of wealth to the area. This so-called white gold is probably the only reason anyone would try to build on the tiny stretch of land where the village is located. There have been settlements here since prehistoric times thanks to the presence of salt. The village of Hallstatt as we know it today is a little over 700 years old.
The church steeple rises above the village, a landmark even on a grey and misty day, like the day we visited. The nearby boneyard (ossuary) is also famous for holding the bones of village residents who’ve passed away. With limited space, the dead could only remain buried for a certain period before they were exhumed for the next round of dead villagers. The relatives would keep the skulls though and decorate them. We thought it was pretty creepy actually.
Tourism in Hallstatt pretty much dominates the town. I saw lots of Chinese and Japanese visitors roaming the (one) street. I also found the rent-a-drindle store very amusing. My kids wouldn’t play along and take a family photo of all of us in traditional Austrian outfits.
The Chinese have been so enamoured with Hallstatt they have recreated a wholesale version complete with artificial lake in Huizhou in the province of Guangdong. Although we did not go during the peak summer season, the village felt a bit overrun with tourists. I can’t imagine how busy it must be during the high season.
Despite the town being geared for tourism nowadays, Hallstatt is still incredibly beautiful. I hope you enjoy these photos of Hallstatt.
Hallstatt is located in the UNESCO world heritage area of Hallstatt-Dachstein-Salzkammergut. There is plenty to do in the area – hiking, visiting salt mines, paddling around the lake etc. It is easy to reach Hallstatt by train from Salzburg via Bad Ischl to Hallstatt Markt. There is so little land in the village itself the train station is located across the lake and you reach Hallstatt by ferry.The ferry across the lake to the village itself is a separate ticket from the train price.