Bad Gastein

 

 

Bad Gastein is a fashionable health resort and a winter sports community in the Gastein Valley. Gastein is located in the Gastein Valley in the Austrian state of Salzburg. The place owes its reputation as a health resort to the unique radon thermal springs.

In the middle of the Hohe Tauern National Park in the Salzburg region, Bad Gastein is 1,000 m above sea level. Its characteristic townscape with the buildings from the "Belle Epoque" blends in harmoniously with the natural surroundings. The Austrian world health resort offers relaxation and recreation, combined with an ideal mountain climate and Gastein thermal water.

Guaranteed snow, attractive slopes, cross-country trails of all levels of difficulty characterize Bad Gastein. In summer there are hiking trails, running and Nordic walking routes, bike and bike tours in and around the Hohe Tauern National Park.

 

Attractions

Bad Gastein waterfall

 

On the Stubnerkogel - year-round accessible 2 140-meter suspension bridge at almost 2,300 m above sea level and the Glocknerblick viewing platform, an adventurous rock path on the Stubnerkogel.
In Bad Gastein's thermal spring park, the thermal water gushes impressively and completely naturally from the rock.
Zirbenzauber am Graukogel - The Graukogel is known for its particularly beautiful and ancient stone pine, some trees are almost 400 years old.
Gletschermühle - natural monument in the center of Bad Gastein.

 

Churches in Bad Gastein

Church of Sts. Primus and Felician

Nikolauskirche/ Church of St. Nicholas

Church of St. Mary Mother of the Good Council

 

Museums

Altböckstein Mining Museum

Christophoruskirche/ Christophorus Church

 

Gastein Museum - The museum, which was redesigned in 2011, focuses on the thermal water, the history of the spa, the Gastein customs and the picture gallery.
Imhof Show power plant Nassfeld in Sportgastein - In the show power plant models of various machines from the gold rush time are exhibited, which are explained in detail during an interesting tour.

 

Buildings

Villa Karlstejn
Villa Karlštejn was built in 1907 by the Italian master Angelo Comini. Today, within the walls of the building, there are tourist apartments, allowing guests of Bad Gastein to immerse themselves in the historical atmosphere of this small Austrian town.

 

Hotel Straubinger

Grand Hotel de l’Europe

Hotel Badeschloss

Congress House

Böckstein Castle

Gastein Museum

 

History

Town name
The town was called Wildbad or Wildbad Gastein in the last few centuries. From 1906 to 1996 the community was called Badgastein. On January 1, 1997, the spelling was set to Bad Gastein. The name "Gastein" goes back to two Indo-European roots and means either "gray river" or "spraying river". The oldest still existing document with the name "Gastuna" can be found in 963 in a certificate of the noble Rosmuot.

Baths and spa facilities
In the beginning, the bathing facilities were communal pools, in which bathers passed the time with breakfast and board games. For the successful spa cures of the Middle Ages, long bathing times and the generally long cure duration of six weeks were required. The Gasteiner Heilstollen is also supposed to offer natural help with rheumatic diseases as part of radon balneology.

In the Middle Ages, word of the healing power of the Gastein thermal baths spread. Despite the primitive bathing facilities and accommodations at the time, princes and noblemen took long and arduous journeys to the thermal springs. The thermal water was led from the springs to the inns in open wooden gutters, later in wooden well pipes. The medicinal water was brought to the neighboring Bad Hofgastein by means of barrels and horse-drawn carts before a thermal water pipe was built in 1830.

Gastein Convention
On August 14, 1865, the Gastein Convention was passed between Austria and Prussia in Bad Gastein, which regulated the condominium over the duchies of Schleswig (administered in Prussia) and Holstein (administered in Austria) acquired as a result of the German-Danish War in 1864.

Mining
The centers of gold mining in the Hohe Tauern are located in the Böckstein district. The most important gold supplier at all times was the Radhausberg. In 1557, 830 kg of gold and three times as much silver were brought into the Salzburg silver trade (purchase monopoly of the sovereign) from Gastein and Rauris. The mining of precious metals was nationalized in 1616. This operating period, now referred to as "Aryan", lasted until 1865/1868.

After the state shutdown, private investors took over the mining and founded the first Radhausberg union, which lasted until 1904/1905. Then the Swiss tunnel builder Karl Imhof (1873–1944) became interested in mining, found a financier in the Swiss tobacco producer Fritz Mayer and founded the Second Radhausberg Society. The economic success remained low. Production was inactive from 1926 to autumn 1937. After a brief engagement by the English Edron Trust, the German mining company Preussag started mining at the end of March 1938; Although this did not achieve any success, it was responsible for the creation of today's Gasteiner Heilstollen. Today the Böcksteiner Montanmuseum and the Via aurea association remember this time.

Post war history
After the Second World War, a DP camp was set up from requisitioned hotels in Bad Gastein for Jewish, so-called displaced persons, most of whom had been moved from the DP camp on the grounds of the Ebensee concentration camp to Bad Gastein. The camp, in which up to 1,300 people lived at times, was closed in March 1946.

After the First and Second World Wars, Bad Gastein was no longer able to assert itself as a fashionable health resort for the upper classes. Winter sports tourism was established as compensation from 1946. In addition, rehabilitation clinics run by health insurers and wellness hotels have increasingly settled due to the alleged healing properties of the radon-containing thermal water.

 

For many years, the tourist infrastructure of the place has increasingly shifted from the historical core to the station area. Due to its level location, the location on the main road and the immediate vicinity of mountain railway stations (winter sports), it is more attractive and convenient for tourists to reach. The Felsentherme, also located there, which was facing bankruptcy due to ailing facilities, was extensively modernized by November 2017. Due to changed leisure habits (the summer season, which used to be dominant, was replaced by the winter season) and completely outdated buildings (many hotels had not been modernized since the 1970s and had insufficient heating facilities), the former Belle Époque hostels were increasingly decaying. The Grand Hotel Gasteinerhof, which only had three bathrooms, closed in 1987, and the owners of the renowned Grand Hotel de l’Europe, once one of the largest and most exclusive luxury hotels in Europe, had to file for bankruptcy in 1988. Since then, the multi-storey house has been used as an apartment building, with most of the owners only being there a few weeks a year. The casino moved out in 2015. Between 2001 and 2005 the Viennese real estate entrepreneur Franz Duval acquired five historic buildings that characterize the center (Haus Austria, Kongresshaus, Hotel Straubinger, Badeschloss, k. U. K. Post office) for a total of five million euros. Since then, the properties have fallen into disrepair, and son Philipp Duval, who inherited the property in 2013, did not present any redevelopment plans either. However, the Viennese architect Franz Wojnarowski announced in February 2017 that there were potential buyers who, like himself, were striving for "an architectural combination of old, classicist building tradition and modern new buildings". Wojnarowski held 50 percent of some of the old buildings on Straubingerplatz, Philipp Duval the other half. Duval was the sole owner of the House of Austria and the desolate congress center and, according to the municipality, had "broken off all contact".

Since investments in the tourist future of the town center were uncertain for years, there were attempts to temporarily use the "eyesore" artistically and to inspire guests for the "morbid charm" of the area. The Summer Fresh Art Festival has been held in July since 2010 and since 2011 artists have been invited to work in studios in the listed power plant at the foot of the waterfall and to live in hotels for a few weeks. In this context, the press referred to avant-garde performers, high-quality restaurants and described Bad Gastein as a “stronghold for creative and crazy people”.

At the beginning of November 2017, the State of Salzburg bought the vacant historical ensemble on Straubingerplatz with the Hotel Straubinger, the Badeschloss and the post office building, which was in need of major renovation, for 6 million euros and financed an initial, makeshift renovation. In November 2018, the buildings were sold on to the Munich-based Hirmer real estate group for 7.5 million euros, subject to the stipulation that at least one 4-star superior or a 5-star hotel would be built no later than three years after the necessary permits had been obtained. A 520 meter long pedestrian tunnel and a new multi-storey car park should solve the traffic problems in the center by 2021. The number of overnight stays has risen significantly, regardless of the in-town ruins. In 2018 they were 1.2 million per year compared to 850,000 in 1990. In February 2019, there was even talk of a new “gold rush mood”.

 

Geography
A special feature is the location of the center, which was created on the steep slopes around the waterfall and is characterized by very steep and narrow streets. Multi-storey houses were built on these cliffs to save space, so that the appearance of the village is reminiscent of a city (“skyscraper village”). The difference in altitude between the spring park and the train station is around 80 meters. It is possible to overcome part of the height difference from the town center to the station area by using the parking garage lift (11 floors).

 

Getting there

By plane
Air travelers can reach Bad Gastein via the airports Salzburg (IATA code: SZB, 97 km), Munich (IATA code: MUC, 266 km), or Innsbruck (IATA code: INN, 191 km).

By train
The Tauernbahn station, which was typical of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, is located near the Stubnerkogelbahn valley station.

The trains are operated by ÖBB, all express trains on the route stop in the town.

Occupied counter times are: Mo-Fr 7:00 a.m. - 12:25 p.m. and 1:25 p.m. - 4:30 p.m., Sa 8:00 a.m. - 12:25 p.m. and 1:25 p.m. - 5:45 p.m., Sundays and Sundays. Public holidays 10:00 a.m. - 12:25 p.m. and 1:25 p.m. - 5:45 p.m.

By street
Coming from the Salzburg area, take the A10 toll road south to Bischofshofen and the Gasteinertal exit, continue on the Austrian federal road B311 to Lend and turn off onto the B167 into the Gasteinertal. Continue via Bad Hofgastein to Bad Gastein.

The toll-free journey from the north in the route via Lofer and on well-developed federal roads, but with some through-town traffic, is from the Munich - Salzburg motorway, exit Traunstein-Siegsdorf in Germany and further on the B306 (D) via Inzell, Schneizlreuth (border ), B178 (A) to Lofer, from there you can continue on the B 311 to Lend at the entrance to the Gastein Valley. Distance from the Traunstein motorway exit approx. 134 km.

Coming from the south, Bad Gastein is reached via the Mallnitz Tauern lock.