Kaprun is a municipality with 3130 inhabitants (as of January 1, 2020) in the Zell am See district in the Austrian state of Salzburg. Together with the city of Zell am See, the municipality is known as a holiday destination of Zell am See-Kaprun.
Kaprun lies at the foot of the Hohe Tauern in the area of the Glockner group. Parts of the municipality of Kaprun are in the Hohe Tauern National Park. The Großer Wiesbachhorn (3570 meters) is the summit of the seventh highest independent summit in Austria and the third highest summit of the Glockner group in the municipality of Kaprun. The summit represents the municipal boundary between the municipalities of Fusch and Kaprun. Kaprun is traversed from south to north by the Kapruner Ache, which flows into the Salzach.
Excavation finds in the area of the Bürgererkogel (near the
valley station of the Maiskogel cable car) indicate Celtic mining
activities (see Ambisonten). This approximately 150 m high rock spur
carried a fortified hilltop settlement from the early Bronze Age,
which was also inhabited in the Hallstatt and Latène Ages. The spur
was expanded to accommodate residential and farm buildings with
terraces. The archaeological investigations in 1991–1993 showed that
there was a lot of settlement activity, especially in the later
Latène period. Many finds point to trade contacts with areas south
of the main Alpine ridge, including three Roman aces (coins), minted
around 96–80 BC. BC, Campanian ceramics and an Italian bronze
mirror. A disc-shaped iron bar weighing exactly 20 Roman pounds
(34.97 kg) also indicates barter goods. The traces of settlement end
with the Roman conquest of the Alpine regions. The surrounding wall
of the Celtic settlement was largely destroyed when a castle wall
was built in the 10th century AD. The found objects are now in the
Salzburg Museum Carolino Augusteum.
Kaprun was first mentioned in a document in 931 with the Celtic name Chataprunnin (wild water) in the Codex Odalberti. The place was a mountain farming village for centuries. In 1166 the Kaprun possessions of the lords of the Falkenstein-Neuburg were mentioned in the Codex Falkensteinensis. Kaprun Castle was built in the 12th century and was stormed and burned down by farmers in 1526. Immediately afterwards, the building was rebuilt in its current form; extensive renovation work has taken place gradually since 1984.
The construction of the so-called Tauern power plant was started during the National Socialist rule with Jewish forced laborers who were housed in a camp in Kaprun. The suffering of the Jewish slave laborers and the suppression of this story in post-war Austria were also the subject of the play “Das Werk” by Elfriede Jelinek (2003).
The Kaprun power plant (Tauernkraftwerke AG) was finally transfigured into a national myth after the end of the Second World War as Austria's development work. With the completion of the Tauern power plants in 1955, the place experienced a continuous upswing. A glacier ski area was opened up for the first time in Austria by a three-stage cable car (built 1963–1965, since then continuously expanded) to the Kitzsteinhorn. The ski area has expanded considerably since then.
On November 11, 2000, there was a serious fire accident in the tunnel funicular Gletscherbahn Kaprun 2, in which 155 people died. The reason was hydraulic oil leaking at a leak and dripping onto a fan heater that was subsequently installed to warm the driver's cab. All suspects in the investigation were initially acquitted. The judgment is controversial because the household fan heater identified as the cause of the fire was unsuitable for use in the driver's cab of the glacier lift and there were practically no safety precautions such as smoke detectors or fire extinguishers against fire accidents. However, the court also found that the standards and laws in force at the time of the accident had not been violated. In the years of legal dispute over compensation payments for the relatives of the victims of the Kaprun cable car disaster, an agreement was reached. As the chairman of the mediation commission, Klaus Liebscher, announced at a press conference in Vienna, an "unconditional approval" was obtained with all 451 claimants. Overall, the settlement amount will now be paid out in the amount of 13.9 million euros.