The Salzkammergut (Austrian German: [ˈsaltskamɐɣuːt]; German: [ˈzaltskamɐɡuːt] (listen); Central Austro-Bavarian: Soizkaumaguad) is a resort area in Austria, stretching from the city of Salzburg eastwards along the Alpine Foreland and the Northern Limestone Alps to the peaks of the Dachstein Mountains. The main river of the region is the Traun, a right tributary of the Danube.
The name Salzkammergut translates to “salt demesne” (or “salt domain”), Kammergut being a German word for territories held by princes of the Holy Roman Empire, in early modern Austria specifically territories of the Habsburg Monarchy. The salt mines of Salzkammergut were administered by the Imperial Salzoberamt in Gmunden from 1745 to 1850.
The lands on the shore of the Traun River comprise numerous glacial lakes and raised bogs, the Salzkammergut Mountains and the adjacent Dachstein Mountains, the Totes Gebirge and the Upper Austrian Prealps with prominent Mt. Traunstein in the east. The towering mountain slopes are characterized by bright limestone (karst) and flysch rocks.Wolfgangsee with St. Gilgen in the foregroundView of the Lake Altaussee and Altaussee, in the background the Hoher DachsteinView of the Lake Attersee
Salzkammergut is not an official administrative division of Austria and as such has no clear borders. The historical term referred not to a region but to specific possessions (salt mines) of the Habsburg Monarchy within the region. Since 2002, however, there has been a well-defined Tourismusregion Salzkammergut, marketed by Salzkammergut Tourismus-Marketing GmbH, a company located in Bad Ischl. As defined by this company, Salzkammergut as a tourist region includes 58 municipalities in three Austrian states, the majority within Upper Austria (Gmunden and Vöcklabruck districts), besides smaller portions of Styria and Salzburg. Salzkammergut Tourismus-Marketing GmbH divides the Salzkammergut region into ten sub-regions, as follows:
- Ausseerland: Bad Aussee, Styria
- Ferienregion Wolfgangsee: Wolfgangsee, Salzburg
- Urlaubsregion Fuschlsee: Fuschlsee, Salzburg
- Ferienregion Dachstein Salzkammergut: Hallstätter See, Bad Goisern, Hallstatt, Obertraun and Gosau, Upper Austria
- Ferienregion Traunsee: Traunsee, Upper Austria
- Ferienregion Attersee: Attersee, Upper Austria
- MondSeeLand – Mondsee/Irrsee: Mondsee (town), Mondsee, Irrsee, Upper Austria
- Ferienregion Bad Ischl: Bad Ischl, Upper Austria
- Ferienregion Attergau: Attergau, Upper Austria
- Ferienregion Almtal: Almtal, Upper Austria
Archaeological findings in the area date back to the Neolithic era, especially the stilt houses of the Mondsee group culture, who settled the region from about 3800 BC onwards. The Germanic name hall of several settlements refers to the region’s numerous salt mines, which had been in use at least since the days of the Celtic Hallstatt culture, centered at the mining town of Hallstatt. These operations were continued by the Romans, after the area had been incorporated into the Noricum province in 15 BC. A Roman settlement and salt evaporation pond at Hallstatt is documented about 100, affected by several Germanic invasions after the Marcomannic Wars, until the province was finally evacuated at the behest of the Italian king Odoacer in 488.
From about 530, Bavarii tribes settled the region from the west, they encountered Alpine Slavs who had moved northwards through the Enns Valley and across the Dachstein Mountains. From 900 salt trade is again documented along the Traun River, when the area was part of the Traungau region of the German stem duchy of Bavaria, held by the comital dynasty of the Otakars, who from 1056 also ruled over the neighbouring March of Styria. While most of the Traungau fell to the Babenberg duchy of Austria upon the deposition of the Bavarian duke Henry the Lion in 1180, the southeastern Ausseerland remained with the newly-established Duchy of Styria, which nevertheless from 1192