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Hallstatt: The Old Town at the Lake

Internationally Hallstatt is well known for its beautiful location situated in the midst of the mountains at an Alpine lake. Less known perhaps is the fact that Hallstatt is one of the oldest known settlements in the Alps still in existence. From the 8th century BC onwards humans lived here and engaged in the production of salt; the culture they represented is called “Hallstatt Culture”.

Coming back to modern times, in the last years Hallstatt became immensely popular among tourists from Asia and the US, leading to fears of overtourism. Since COVID hit, the situations eased somewhat and the inhabitants start to breath again. On the other hand, one would wish that everyone could see this gem in the Alps. Hence, a sustainable way has to be found to navigate tourism in this rather little town. For now, I hope you enjoy some impressions from Hallstatt and surroundings.

Exploring Austrian Nature

Situated in the midst of Europe, Austria offers a wealth of experiences in nature. Large parts of the country are located in the Alps, a region seemingly devoid of humans and their intrusions. Of course, this is not entirely true and there are human settlements even at high plateaus. Sill, nature in the Alps it seems has enough place to roam and flourish freely.

Discovering the Alps

The European Alps consist of countless valleys, plateaus, mountain ranges and lakes. It is a vast landscape covering large parts of Central Europe. In between all of this, streams make their way through the gorges and passes. Some of them, such as the Sigmund-Thun-Klamm close to Kaprun, can be visited. Wooden walkways span this gorge surmounting several waterfalls. In general, the network of walking trails in the Alps is rich and far reaching. It spans all of the different terrains, so the region can be experienced from all different perspectives and habitats.

Nature of Zell am See

The surroundings of Zell am See are characterized by diverse natural habitats, reaching from the lake itself, to a wide array of swamps and grasslands. The higher you go the more nature is changing as well. At around 3.000 meters eternal ice is covering the moutaintops, like white rooftops they stand protective over this magnificent land.

Houses of God: Sacral Architecture in the Alps

The tradition of sacral buildings in the Alps is far-reaching. The oldest churches in the region date from the 7th and 8th century, but the heyday for building activities was the 18th century. A time in the history of the region when grandiose architecture with rich decoration was built to combat the rivalling religious ideology of protestantism coming from the north. While protestant churches tended to be more plain and unpretentious, Catholicism went in the other direction. Churches became palaces for God, becoming ever more impressive with marvellous wall paintings and detailed glass windows. Another important element of Baroque sacral architecture were organs larger than life, richly decorated and with an impressive sound range. Some impressions from the region.

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Zell am See: Lake in the Alps

The Lake of Zell (“Zeller See”) may not be impressive looking at raw data alone. The lake is pretty small with a length of 3,8 km and a width of 1,5 km. What makes this body of water so picturesque is the landscape surrounding it. The Lake of Zell is situated it the midst of the alps with mountains over 3,000 meters in close distance. On bright days you can see as far as to the “Hohe Tauern” mountain range, the largest one in Austria. Situated at the western shore of the lake is a lovely little town with the same name. Starting from here you can reach the peak fo Schmittenhöhe by cable car. The views from atop on the lake and the town are magnificent by itself, offering incredible views on the region. Other ways to discover the lake is to take a boat trip across the lake or make use of the pathway parallel to the shore and bike or walk along.

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