Gmunden has 13,275 inhabitants (as of January 1, 2020) and is the
seat of the district administration of the Gmunden district. As the
center of the Gmunden judicial district, it houses the district
court. The city is known as the place of origin of Gmundner ceramics
with its characteristic white and green flamed decor. During the k.
u. k. Monarchy was Gmunden as a renowned summer resort, which the
numerous villas testify. The city also became known in the 1990s
through the television series Schlosshotel Orth.
The first settlement of today's urban area goes back to the 5th century. The first settlers were fishermen. The settlement takes its name from the confluence of the Traun in the Traunsee and was initially called about * (ze) munten ('At the mouths'). The plural was used because the Traun was not yet regulated and flowed into the lake in several arms.
It is not known exactly when Gmunden became a town from a fortified market. Gmunden celebrated its town elevation in 1278. Gmunden was heavily fortified in the Middle Ages. Gmunden only got its own church around 1300. A regional court (today a district court) already existed in 1217. The economic and political head was the salt minister or city judge.
The livelihood of the city remained the salt trade in the early modern period. The economic situation of Gmunden deteriorated immensely in the course of the Upper Austrian Peasant War, the salt trade could hardly be sustained and looting was the order of the day. After a truce was negotiated, musketeers moved in.
During the 17th century Gmunden grew in economic importance as a supplier of warships. Because of the second Turkish siege of Vienna, thousands of refugees had to be taken in and fed, which is why the existing Turkish tax was increased considerably.
During the Austrian War of Succession, Gmunden
and the surrounding area looked like a large field camp, although
there were never any armed conflicts. The burden of quarters, first
for the Bavarians, then for the French, and after the invasion of
the imperial troops in Upper Austria was considerable.
At the beginning of the 19th century the end of the boom of the salt trade was looming, which is why it was important to find new sources of income. The development of Gmundens into a spa town and the legendary competition with Bad Ischl that resulted from it began. In 1862 Gmunden was named a spa town.
In September 1914 Gmunden took over the task of a hospital town. 190 wounded soldiers arrived and were taken to the hospitals set up for this purpose. Hundreds of wounded arrived in the months that followed. In 1916 there was a rapid deterioration in the supply of the population, which could not be improved for the time being.
On January 1, 1939, parts of Eck and Ort as well as Traunleithen and Theresienthal had to be ceded by the Altmünster community to Gmunden. As a result, the train station was also integrated into the municipality of Gmunden. Until the 1950s, the Altmünster community tried to get the ceded areas back.
In 1942 Gmunden had to take in hundreds of refugees. A year before the end of the war, Gmunden became a refugee town. The population grew to 30,000, a crowd the community could not handle. Although the city was spared bombing, the economy was completely in ruins by the end of the war. During the Second World War, Gmunden was also used as a hospital town. Of the more than 600 Gmundners drafted into military service, not even 13 percent survived the war. During the occupation, the US troops set up an espionage center. Many former SS men were also hired, as it was assumed that they knew about Soviet conditions. The city of Gmunden also benefited from the American reconstruction program.
In 2008 the decentralized state exhibition took place under the title “Das Salzkammergut”. The leading and overview exhibition was in Schloss Ort in Gmunden. In addition to Gmunden, eleven other communities in the Salzkammergut took part. For this purpose the Kammerhof Museum was expanded or rebuilt.
Due to the low number of pupils, the previously independent secondary schools (Hebbel and Habert School) were merged from the 2007/2008 school year.
For 2007 there was a catalog of measures by the municipality. The most important projects included the expansion of the city center and the construction of the Lacus Felix lake hotel. The construction of the hotel was supposed to start in 2007, but after the liquidation of the hotel company due to financial problems, the construction project was abandoned in 2014. In 2009, the implementation of the so-called “station package” was to begin, which contained the following plan: Since the Seebahnhof is being demolished as a result of the hotel project, a suitable solution is to be found - the most likely option is to erect a new building in the monastery area. The Gmunden train station is also to receive a modern central platform and the station building is to be renovated. The barrier system at the level crossing near the train station is to be eliminated through an underpass.
The most famous sights of Gmunden are the Landschloss and
Seeschloss Ort. The latter was also the location of the television
series Schlosshotel Orth. The Seeschloss is one of the oldest
buildings in the Salzkammergut (built in the 10th century) and was
first mentioned in documents in 909 and later in 1053.
The Villa Toscana is not far from the Seeschloss. This building was built between 1870 and 1877 in the middle of an 88,000 m² park as the domicile of the Grand Duchess of Tuscany, Maria Antonie of Naples-Sicily. Other castles in the vicinity are Cumberland Castle from the 19th century and Weyer Castle, which houses a permanent exhibition on Meissen porcelain.
On the Rinnholzplatz there is the salt carrier fountain, the only ceramic fountain in Austria, from which drinking water flows from the “Holy Bründl”.
In the parish church is the three king altar, which was created by the Bavarian-Austrian sculptor Thomas Schwanthaler around 1678. In the Capuchin Church, built in 1636, the high altar painting of the Visitation of the Virgin, created in 1753 by the Tyrolean Baroque painter Philipp Haller, is particularly noteworthy.
The Gmundner Marktplatz is located near the parish church. In addition to old houses, such as the first Gmundner Rathaus, which existed until 1301, there is also the city fountain with the city coat of arms. The town hall was built by an Italian master builder in 1574, with a ceramic chime from the 16th century, and underwent extensive renovations in 1925. When the city was founded, the market square was the economic and political center. In a lane leading away from the market square, there is the first pharmacy in the Salzkammergut, as well as the Pepöckhaus, in which the Klo & So sanitary museum has been set up since 1988.
The Kammerhof, built in 1450, once the seat of the Habsburg salt chamber and representative of the emperor, offers both historical and modern architectural elements. In the Kammerhof there is not only the city museum but also the Brahms Museum: Johannes Brahms often spent the summer months with the Viennese industrialist Viktor von Miller zu Aichholz in his Gmundner villa, after Brahms's death in 1897 he founded the first Brahms Museum in Gmunden in 1900 World.
The famous paddle steamer Gisela (built in 1871) is parked next to the Kammerhof at a landing stage for the Traunsee shipping company. The ship was named after the daughter of Emperor Franz Joseph, Gisela Louise Marie of Austria.
Another attraction is the Gmundner tram built by Stern & Hafferl. It connects the city center with the main train station and is the oldest, shortest and - with a gradient of 10% - the steepest tram in Austria.
In the Gmundner ceramics factory you can watch how the typical “green flamed” is created during factory tours. The influence of Gmundner ceramics is so strong that Gmunden calls itself the “ceramic city”. From 1997 the company, which had existed for more than 500 years, was owned by Maximilian Graf von Moy's family, made losses before 2014 and was sold to the MF Group, Anif by Markus Friesacher on August 1, 2018.
Vineyard outdoor seating in the Traundorf district.
Today the city is a member of the Association of Small Historic Cities.