Salty mines & a sweet view in Hallstatt, Austria
I like salt, I love sweet, scenic views, so touring the salt mines of Hallstatt naturally fit the bill on our Austrian getaway to-do list.To get up to the mine the girls and I took a funicular from the village up the looming Alp (I’m going to make that a word, okay? It means a singular mountain in the Alps) to explore the famous Hallstatt salt mines. The reason for doing this is two-fold; to learn more about the history of the city and ancient mines, but maybe more exciting, to take in the million dollar, World Heritage view from the newly built viewing platform floating high above the village.
Afterwards, we headed inside the museum for tickets for the salt mine tour. About 50 of us were provided onesies then moved into a waiting area. Adorable and functional, the inside of the mine is nearly a constant 40 degrees Fahrenheit so they provided the needed warmth and kept us from getting dirty.
Following our chipper guide through the passages of the mine, we made our way through a series of indoor slides leading deeper underground. Throughout the tour we stopped and watched movies depicting the history and function of the mine. While there were English subtitles, I have to admit it wasn’t the most enthralling of educational experiences, but a unique one none-the-less. The main takeaways:
- In the 1800’s a pick made out of a stag horn was discovered, dating back to the Neolithic Age thus making the mine 7,000 years old. (!!!)
- Home of the world’s oldest pipeline, constructed over 400 years ago with 13,000 hallowed out trees.
- The oldest salt mine in the world.
We stopped for a moment to watch the light show against the cavern walls and underground pool.
At the end we boarded something similar to a zoo-choo and rapidly rolled our way outside again. After being underground for over an hour I was more than happy return to the fresh Austrian air. Kudos to the miners that still work in this mine, I surely could not do it.
Our eyes sllllowly adjusting back to normalcy, we skipped back down the path and hoped the funicular back down the mountain.
On a side note – I thought it was pretty amazing that although dogs are not allowed in the mine (hello new worst fear: losing Stuart underground), they provided large, free crates for dogs. Stuart impatiently waited for us in his spacious crate with water, food and treats. Europeans really do love their dogs and I’m so pleased with how well they accommodate for them.
Have you ever toured a mine? What’d you think?
P.S. In case you missed, here is my post about boating on the Lake Hallstatt, the ultimate bucket list item.