Zell am See



Zell am See is a city in Pinzgau, the southwestern region of the federal state of Salzburg. The city is located on the west bank of Lake Zell and has a population of around 9,000. Zell am See is a climatic health resort and a popular holiday region - both in summer and in winter.

The place name "in Bisontio", still used in the 8th century, in connection with the Celtic tribe of the Ambisonts, Bronze Age ceramic fragments and copper smelting sites (near the Ebenbergalm, the middle station and in Thumersbach) indicate an inspection and probably also the first settlement of the area around the Zeller See over 3,000 years ago. Even in the time of the Romans (an important deposit on the Fuchslehen from the middle of the 2nd century AD) and the migration of peoples, the location was conveniently located at the crossroads of several traffic routes (Saalachtal, Salzachtal, north-south connection over the main Alpine ridge a Celtic-Roman passport sanctuary at the Hochtor) of supraregional interest. So there is much to suggest that the trade and a related settlement were never completely given up until the Bavarian conquest in the early Middle Ages, and that the later “monastery” was founded as an economic cell - comparable to a hospice - in the second half of the 8th century be associated with it.

This economic cell, which soon gave its name to the entire settlement (Cella in Bisontio), was first mentioned in the collection of documents of the Salzburg (arch) bishop Arn, the Notitia Arnonis, in 788/790. The founders themselves are to be found in aristocratic Bavaria, the Hippolyt patronage, which is not widespread in Salzburg, could be connected with the Tegernsee monastery, but the environment of the Bavarian Duke cannot be ruled out either. It was not until the 12th and 13th centuries that the influence of the Salzburg archbishops in the Pinzgau increased continuously, extensive inheritance contracts subsequently secured the possession of the prince-archbishopric of Salzburg, but the individual counties did not finally fall under the crosier until 1480. The origins of market rights in Zell im Pinzgau (Pisontia, Pinzgowe, Pinzcow, ...) go back to the first half of the 14th century; further market privileges were documented in 1357. In the late Middle Ages, Zell can also be used as a place of jurisdiction (1449 as a regional court with an instructor).

Although the north-south trade shifted more and more to the "Untere Straße" over the Radstädter Tauern, which had meanwhile been developed into a cart path, the people of Zell still played an important role as accommodation providers, hauliers and middlemen; the south was mainly supplied with salt from the archbishop's salt pans and returned with products from the Mediterranean region (sweet wine, oil, tropical fruits, "Venedigerwaren", ...). Numerous guest and accommodation establishments in Zell, which were certified as early as the 15th century, were primarily connected to "Weinlehen", and large stables were available for the pack horses. Since Zell am See benefited greatly from market and long-distance trade and (in contrast to Radstadt, which was heavily fought over in the peasant wars) never had a city wall, attempts were evidently made to stay out of armed conflicts and uprisings as much as possible, including the peasant uprising of 1525/26 in the run-up to the decisive battle on Lake Zell (on July 1, 1526 under the leadership of Peter Paßler), they submitted to the troops of the Swabian League. In connection with renewed peasant unrest in 1606 a. a. The Zeller nurse Caspar Vogl was also executed at the behest of Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau. The trials and mass executions surrounding the mysterious wizard Jackl affected the whole country, and in Zell im Pinzgau a boy wizard was also executed in 1682. Six farm estates were affected by the expulsion of the Protestants from Salzburg under Prince Archbishop Leopold Anton Freiherr von Firmian in 1731 in the “Zell court”.

Mining was economically important for centuries, in numerous tunnels in the then still independent municipalities of Bruckberg-Schmitten and Thumersbach, copper and silicate ores as well as silver-bearing galena and zinc blende were mined. The Rosenbergs in particular appeared as trades here; Rosenberg Castle, which was built in 1577 and has been used as the town hall since 1973, also goes back to them.



Napoleon's campaigns initially only marginally affected Zell am See. However, a rifle congress took place on December 27th, 1800 in the Gasthaus Bräu (later Alte Post) on the market square in Zell, at which the courts of Pinzgau and Pongau decided to resist the French troops. As a result, the market town was repeatedly affected by hard war contributions (compensation) that had to be delivered to both the French troops and the "Tyroller" shooters. So in 1809 the enthusiasm for the war for Tyrol and the Emperor of Austria in Zell im Pinzgau, which was formerly Bavarian and for a long time Salzburg, remained within narrow limits, "only a small number of riflemen from Zell am See" joined Anton Wallner's calls to fight against the Bavarian-French troops. In the Bavarian period of Salzburg from 1810 to 1816, the term Zell am See instead of Zell im Pinzgau is likely to have come more and more into use and eventually become common.

In 1816, the archbishopric of Salzburg, which was independent until 1803, and with it Zell am See, came to the Austrian crown. After the k.k. District authority had been relocated to the neighboring municipality of Saalfelden (in Zell only the district collegiate court was to remain), in 1854 the most important Zell mayor of the 19th century, Josef Salzmann, obtained the relocation from the ministries in Vienna. Thus, Zell am See also remained the seat of the district administration, which means that numerous offices and administrative offices are still located in the village today. Salzmann's efforts to ensure that the railway line of the Salzburg-Tiroler Bahn was not routed via the then still independent municipality of Thumersbach, as was rescheduled for cost reasons, but via Zell am See was just as successful. Hundreds of onlookers from all over the Pinzgau came to the festive opening on July 30, 1875, with many celebrities. The connection to the railway network marks the actual beginning of the tourist development of the place, in which pioneers such as Rudolf Ehrenfried Riemann played a large part together with Mayor Salzmann, District Captain Johann Stöckl or District Construction Engineer Nikolaus Gassner. In 1877, for example, a beautification association for the creation and maintenance of the promenade paths was founded, and folders and hiking maps were issued. Together with Rudolf Riemann, the Pinzgau des D. u., Which was established in 1871, was involved in the development of the Pinzgau mountains with their glacier world. Ö. Alpine Club significantly involved.

In August 1885 "Empress" Elisabeth ("Sisi") stayed in Zell am See accompanied by her youngest daughter, Archduchess Marie Valerie, in summer 1893 Emperor Franz Joseph I also stayed in the village and visited the Schmittenhöhe and the Kaprun Valley . During the early days of Zell, numerous new accommodation establishments emerged, such as the Hotel Krone in 1876, the Hotel Kaiserin Elisabeth in 1879, the Grand Hotel am See in 1878 and 1894, and the Pinzgauer Hof (today the tax office) in 1898. In that year, with the construction of the Pinzgauer local railway, the Oberpinzgau - and with it the Krimml waterfalls - was opened up for traffic. In 1900 the well-known Trapp family stayed in Thumersbach for one summer.

Artists such as the German vedute painter August Franz Heinrich von Naumann, the Prague copperplate engraver Anton Balzer, the German landscape painter and graphic artist Wilhelm Friedrich Schlotterbeck and the Heidelberg vedute painter and copperplate engraver Johann Jakob Strüdt also contributed to the reputation of Zell am See as a tourist destination . It was followed by the (old) Austrian artists Franz Barbarini, Franz Josef Sandmann, Thomas Ender, Friedrich Gauermann, Hubert Sattler and Edmund Höd, the Englishman Edward Theodore Compton and Karl Flieher, who lives in Zell. They all painted and drew the small market town and the "eerily beautiful" high mountain landscape with passion, their oil paintings, illustrations, prints and brochures reached an international audience.


The First World War brought an abrupt end to the general upswing. 270 Zeller had to enter, 62 of them lost their lives in the war. War memorials next to the parish church and in Thumersbach remind of this. In Zell am See - as everywhere - a drastic shortage and the resulting rationing of food were painfully felt. In addition, soon after the war began, the k.k. Military authorities ordered the accommodation of the wounded and the creation of a TBC home. In addition, from 1913/14 the Westbahn was expanded to two tracks, the actions of some railway officials and site managers were inconsiderate, the beautiful promenade paths on the lake were cut by a "tangle of tracks". After the famous Hotel Kaiserin Elisabeth fell victim to the pickaxe in 1915, Mayor Josef Wisgrill was only able to prevent the construction of the Elisabeth Park with workshops and barracks, which at that time still belonged to the railway, with great personal commitment. In 1918, the local council considered the quick purchase of this park and in 1925 it was finally implemented. Immediately after the end of the war, Wisgrill handed over the mayor's office to Anton Gassner (German Workers 'Party> DAP), Anton Gassner (German Workers' Party> DAP), who had earned the mayor's office at the music and fire brigade.

After a surprising election victory by the Social Democrats in 1919 and the (first) term of office of Anton Werber (partly represented by the bourgeois Vice Mayor Leo Host due to illness), an agreement was reached in the bourgeois and national camps on a joint mayor candidate. After the elections in 1922, the national Josef Ernst (DAP, later DNSAP or Hitler movement in Austria) became mayor. In the 1925 elections in Zell am See a "unified list of the economically united Christian Social, Greater German and National Socialist parties in Zell am See" ran for the list. Ludwig Margreiter was the leader of the list, followed by Josef Ernst as mayor-designate. In the nine-year term of office of Josef Ernst, Zell was promoted to town on January 24th, 1928 by the Salzburg state parliament, this was justified “in appreciation of the excellent development of the market that he had in the field of tourism at the end of the last century, but especially has recently taken ”. The fact that the Schmittenhöhebahn was the fifth cable car in Austria and the first in Salzburg to be built within a year and officially put into operation on December 30, 1927 had contributed significantly to this. Provincial Governor Franz Rehrl also deserved a special contribution.

In 1931 the bourgeois-national coalition broke up, disputes within the groups led to a split into a Greater German camp and the wing of the Hitler movement. After three dramatic ballots and secret agreements, the social democrat Werber got a majority - again after 1919. In Werber's second term of office (April 1931 to May 1933), however, the tense situation that had been tense for years escalated. The Zeller municipal council switched itself off - similar to what happened in the parliament in Vienna. After a vote of no confidence, the situation was “ex lege”, with District Captain Rudolf Hanifle, a government commissioner instead of an elected mayor had to be entrusted with the management of official business. From December 1933 to June 1934 this task was carried out by Government Councilor Leo Weißengruber, followed by Adalbert Müller. In the early 1930s, Zell had sunk to the “most distressed community in the whole country”, riots and fights were the order of the day, and in 1933 military units had to be stationed in Zell to maintain public order.


It was not until May 1936 that a regular municipal council was constituted again; Sebastian Hörl, who was in charge of all the camps, took office in 1936 after a long hesitation; he was deposed by the National Socialists when Austria was annexed to the German Reich in March 1938. For a short time Georg Lippert (NSDAP) acted as mayor on an interim basis, from 1939 to 1945 the National Socialist Ing.Erich Janik, who was appointed mayor, ran the business of the mining town.

The euphoria among the numerous partisans and sympathizers of the Anschluss flattened out very quickly after the outbreak of World War II in 1939, and in Zell am See too everything soon had to be subordinated to "wartime economic requirements". Around 1050 Zeller were called up for military service, and the community ultimately had 183 dead and missing.

On the occasion of construction work for a gliding school of the National Socialist Aviation Corps (NSFK), barracks were built on community land from 1939 by forced laborers from the occupied war zones in the east, and the Gauleitung ordered the construction of makeshift homes for bomb victims in Zell am See. But the air war also increasingly reached the mountains, by the end of the war there had been 459 air alarms, the city itself was spared from bomb hits.

From the beginning of the National Socialist assumption of office, there were also deportations to concentration camps in Zell am See (including the former government commissioner and later district captain Franz Gasteiger), Aryanizations (with benefits such as the Nazi general music director Herbert von Karajan or the Führer sculptor Joseph Thorak) and reprisals  against the population. Several prison sentences were imposed in this regard for statements hostile to the regime (incitement), listening to "enemy broadcasters" or "black slaughter", and Andreas Kronewitter, a Zeller Reichsbahn employee, was sentenced to death in 1944 and executed because he wrote letters to his son at the front because he had degraded military strength.

For the Reich government in Berlin, the Reich ministries and the security apparatus, evacuation measures were carried out in April 1945 during the Battle of Berlin. Only Hermann Göring went to southern Germany with his staff after Hitler had decided to stay in Berlin on April 22nd. The majority of the staffs to be evacuated should move northwards. At the beginning of May 1945, the last Reich government was formed in Flensburg in the Mürwik special area. The alpine fortress propagated by leading National Socialists was a mirage, but towards the end of the war there were a few evacuated Wehrmacht command posts in Mittersill, Niedernsill, Maria Alm and Zell am See, and the Air Force High Command (OKW) moved into quarters in Thumersbach. During this time, Zell am See generally experienced the largest invasion in its history. Since 1942, Reich Germans and South Tyroleans (Optanten) v. a. was settled in the "Neue Heimat" in Schüttdorf and Einöd, thousands of refugees came to Zell am See from the war zones in Germany and Eastern Austria. In addition to the accommodation in the barracks and makeshift homes, many hospitals had to be set up in hotels and inns, and the number of residents rose to over 11,000.

The first American soldiers in Pinzgau were the paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division, they moved into Zell am See on May 8, 1945, the day of the unconditional surrender of the Wehrmacht. A little later the "Rainbow Division" (42nd Infantry) took over the administration, denazification and democratization of the liberated areas in Pinzgau. Soon the American commanders, in collaboration with representatives of the township, succeeded in alleviating the widespread shortage of food and other everyday necessities. It is also worth mentioning that there was an American university (the Rainbow University) in Zell am See in the Grand Hotel (with a branch in the Metzgerwirt). But a lot was done for education after the war in Zell am See as well: In 1955, another elementary school and a business school were founded, and in 1963 a federal high school was added.


As everywhere in Zell am See, the first years after the end of the war were difficult. a. the food shortage made people to create, and extensive clean-up and restoration work was pending. But everything was slowly restored, the infrastructure on the Schmittenhöhe was continuously improved with new lifts and more spacious ski runs, and shipping was also promoted by purchasing the Libelle boat. This was followed by municipal works, the construction of the elementary school, the adaptation and furnishing of the hospital and much more. Due to the increasing economy and the steadily growing tourism, Zell am See soon moved back to the top of the list of Salzburg's tourist destinations. It is noticeable that winter tourism gained more and more importance in the “50s” and “60s”, and skiing found increasing supporters.

On June 12, 1966, Zell am See was hit by a severe weather disaster. After a two-hour thunderstorm with rain and hailstorms, the Schmittenbach burst its banks, washed away houses and carried away several vehicles. The roads were soon impassable with mud and debris. A mudslide also destroyed an apartment building, killing six German vacationers. The situation became so dramatic that Mayor Ernst Höfer declared a state of emergency and hundreds of helpers from the fire brigade, gendarmerie and army had to be called in.

The 1960s and 1970s are considered particularly sustainable in Zell am See, and numerous projects have been implemented under Mayor Ernst Höfer and Alois Latini. The purchase of Rosenberg Castle proved to be particularly valuable; the trade building from the 16th century was completely renovated and subsequently adapted as the town hall. In 1973 the pedestrian zone in the city center was decided and implemented. At the end of the seventies, Zell am See was the venue for Alpine World Cup races, including of course the Austrian “athlete of the century” Annemarie Moser-Pröll. With the construction of the Zeller Bergbahn (now CityXpress), the everlasting goal of direct access from the city to the Schmittenhöhe was achieved.

Probably the biggest challenge for all those responsible was the steadily increasing traffic on the federal highway B311 through the city, since the sixties the call for a bypass tunnel has been loud again and again. However, construction did not begin until 1993; the bypass tunnel was officially opened on June 27, 1996 during the term of office of Mayor Walter Thaler.

From the first half of the nineties, the number of overnight stays in the winter half-year was consistently higher than that of the summer months; today, over two million overnight stays are recorded in the Zell am See - Kaprun region (2011/12: 2,247,426). In addition to numerous other infrastructural measures, Mayor Georg Maltschnig built the Ferry Porsche Congress Center (FPCC) in 2007 as a central congress and event center. In December 2010, the Tauern SPA World in Zell am See-Kaprun became a new tourist flagship “Opened the bathing and wellness business.