Hallstatt is a small municipality in Austria’s Salzkammergut region with a population of almost 800 people, who receive visits from around 700,000 to 900,000 tourists every year. The municipality and region at and around Lake Hallstatt are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and one of only 20 World Heritage Sites that hold the title of natural and cultural heritage at the same time. In Hallstatt, in addition to the parish church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary (one of the most beautiful churches I have ever been to), there is the ossuary, which is unique in the world.
However, like most attractions, it was closed when we visited. I still like its story and think the treatment of the deceased is inspiring: for lack of space, about 20 to 30 years after the death of a person, the bones are exhumed, bleached and decorated: on the forehead, next to the date of birth and death, are the name of the deceased, decorated with painted crosses, leaves and flowers. This varies according to the period of painting and is the largest collection of its kind in the world.
A beautiful reflection
The view to the north
We were on site in March 2020, right at the beginning of the Corona pandemic in Europe. At that time (I am writing these lines in April 2021), the virus was still far away. China had already banned people from leaving the country, which is why there were hardly any tourists on site. The trains to Hallstatt, which (according to stories) are always packed, were hardly occupied, and you could easily stroll through the narrow streets of the village.
The locals told us that there is usually a big crowd passing through the village and that you can’t get a seat in any restaurant or café. They also told us that the tourists sometimes behave extremely shabby: They enter private properties and houses, are noisy and leave a lot of rubbish but comparatively little money behind.
By the way, we were told the following reason for the mass tourism from Asia: In a very popular Chinese soap opera, the main character asks for his wife’s hand in marriage in Hallstatt. For this reason, Hallstatt has now been recreated as a mirror image in China. Since then, it has become more or less normal to travel to the recreated version of the town for the marriage proposal and to spend the honeymoon in the original. However, I was not able to verify to what extent this is true.
The view of the village from the station, the boat for the crossing can be seen in the centre right
The transit from the station to Hallstatt
The Hallstatt cemetery – one of the most beautiful ones I have ever seen
Tes and I
I like the look
The bathing island
One of countless swans
I often take several photos with minimally changed details …
… as with the memorial stone of Franz Josef I
Overtourism leads to such signs
In Hallstatt, in addition to the Salt World, the Stairway to Nowhere, several churches and the museum, there are countless other beautiful things that are worth a trip or a hike. However, we were on site at the wrong time and could hardly visit any attractions. Personally, I would have preferred to see the Dachstein and the nearby Dachstein Caves (The Giant Ice Cave and the Mammoth Cave). I’ll keep that for later. Here are some more pictures from the beautiful village:
The entrance to the ossuary
The narrow alleys
That makes me smile: (Hai means shark in German) HawHai; DubHai; HaiTech; HaiRaten (German for Marriage)
There was really little going on