Fascinating History of the Salzberg

If you hike through the mysterious tunnels of Salzburg Salt Mine, you will be accompanied by a millennia-old history with every step you take. Even back in the Neolithic Age, people were already wresting "white gold" from the depths of the Dürrnberg.

Prehistoric salt mining on the Dürrnberg began in the 6th century BC. Back then, during the so-called Ice Age – around 2600 years ago – Celts settled the Dürrnberg, exploiting the rich salt deposits there for their own benefit: “white gold” provided the foundation for their existence, securing them many years of work and prosperity. This is attested to by elaborate everyday items such as artistically decorated jugs, which you can view at the Celtic Museum in Hallein. Objects made of gold, coral and amber have also be found in the area of the Dürrnberg. This also shows us that the Celts had trading relationships that extended far beyond the region’s borders.


Decline and Rebirth

With the arrival of the Romans, salt mining initially came to a standstill. Not until the 12th century – in the year 1191, to be precise – was new life breathed into salt mining on the Dürrnberg. And in fact, by no other than the prince-archbishops of Salzburg. “White Gold” became the source of their wealth, attested to by the magnificent baroque architecture we encounter in Salzburg City to this very day. In July 1989, active salt mining on the Dürrnberg officially came to an end. The salt mine had remained in operation for an astonishing 800 years. During this time, the Dürrnberg outside Hallein produced around 45 million m³ of brine and some 12 million tons of salt.

400 years old - yet ultra modern

Interest in the world’s first mine ever to open its doors to visitors has continued unabated to this day. In fact, at a celebration to mark the 400-year anniversary of the first visitor held in May 2017, a new viewing platform was also officially inaugurated. We invite you, too, to visit the spectacular terrace and lookout tower, and enjoy the extraordinary views – regardless of the weather, thanks to a roof. High up in the tower, you are treated to glorious scenery – out towards Salzburg City, the Untersberg and the Gaisberg. An experience definitely not to be missed during your visit to the Salzburg Salt Mine!

Important Information

Would you like to learn more about the fascinating history of the Celts? At SALINA Celtic Village, you are greeted by a replica of the world the Celts once lived in, true to the smallest detail. And admission is included free of charge with your ticket from the salt mine.
Also at the Celtic Museum in Hallein, you can penetrate deep into Celtic times. Just show your ticket from the salt mine and you will get a reduced entrance at the museum.

Salt Mining on the Dürrnberg: Historical Data

4000 BCLocal peoples use natural salt-water springs to produce salt.
ca. 600 BCThe Celts begin mining salt for the first time. The prehistoric mine system extends 4.5 km to a depth of 280 meters.
200 ADLess and less salt mining on the Dürrnberg
696Itinerant preacher St. Rupert establishes St. Peter's Abbey. Duke Theodor of Bavaria donates 20 salt-water springs in Reichenhall.
1196Battle for "white gold": Archbishop Adalbert of Salzburg has the town of Reichenhall and its salt works burned to the ground.
1210In Mühlpach (Hallein), one of the first salt pans is operated.
1271First agreement between the Berchtesgaden Provostry and the Salzburg Archbishopric to coordinate salt mining across borders.
1295Soldiers of the Salzburg archbishops destroy the salt pan in Gosau and set fire to the salt works in Aussee.
1315 - 1450Several new mines are begun and salt mining expands.
1530Archbishop Mathias Lang buys up the last shares of the salt works in Hallein and completes the centuries-long process of establishing a monopoly.
1542Production reaches an annual volume of 22,000 tons.
1607The first guests tour the mine. Since then, the mine has welcomed almost 5 million visitors.
1816Salzburg annexed by Austria.
1862The newly constructed cast-iron salt-water piping system goes into operation, at the Augustiner salt works and the big salt works on the Pernerinsel.
1871Extension of the train line from Salzburg to Hallein: As a result, shipping on the River Salzach comes to a virtual standstill, leaving hundreds of workers in related industries penniless.
1928Ebenseer Solvay Werke establishes itself in the unused buildings of the salt works.
1928 - 1943Five drills are conducted in search of new salt deposits at the initiative of mining inspector Romed Plank.
1971Maximum output of 72,230 tons of salt annually is reached. However, production of table salt has to be ceded to Ebensee, which makes it impossible to produce salt at a profit in Hallein.
1972Major crisis in salt mining and at the Hallein salt works.
1979Opening of a salt works in Ebensee, making the prospects for the Hallein salt works even more grim.
31.7.1989Brine and salt production come to an end in Hallein.
1994Opening of a visitor area along with above-ground facilities.