Quality seal - Unesco World Heritage Site:

The exceptional historical and cultural landscape of Hallstatt - Dachstein - Salzkammergut.

UNESCO world heritage

At the heart of the Salzkammergut region, in the centre of Austria, lies the captivating World Heritage region of Dachstein Salzkammergut. The unique combination of the culture and settlement with breath-taking natural views won the region the UNESCO title of ‘historic cultural landscape of Hallstatt-Dachstein/Salzkammergut’ as a World Natural Heritage and Wold Cultural Heritage site.

Dachstein Salzkammergut – a treasure of humanity
Experience the Alps in small-scale format and submerse yourself in 4,500 years of history – this is no problem in and around the Dachstein. It is not without good reason that the region has been named a UNESCO World Natural and Cultural Heritage site. Where else in Austria can you see so many unique natural landscapes and civilisations dating back thousands of years in such a small area?

Just 20 areas across the world have managed to secure themselves the titles of both UNESCO World Natural and Cultural Heritage site. One of the regions to be awarded this accolade is the historic cultural landscape around the Dachstein. Here in the Inner Salzkammergut region, the diverse landscapes of the Alps are reflected within a small area and the cultural significance of Hallstatt and its salt-based economy date back into pre-history. Even in the Bronze Age, this ‘white gold’ was mined and traded in the upper valley of Hallstatt. Exquisite finds from the so-called ‘graveyard’ confirm this and led researchers to name the entire culture of the time the ‘Hallstatt culture’.

Later, salt became an important trade item for the Habsburg Monarchy – causing Salzkammergut to achieve special status within the Kingdom. A rich architectural and cultural heritage is derived from this long-standing tradition of salt mining and trade – all of which contributed to the region being named a World Cultural Heritage Site.

However, it’s not just the Dachstein landscapes influenced by human activity which are unique. Dachstein also has special status in geology terms. Its karst formations – in particular the cave landscapes – and its wide range of plants and animals have made it a subject of research for natural scientists and a source of inspiration for artists. Here in Salzkammergut, Franz Steinfeld and Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller developed the new Biedermeier landscape painting technique, Adalbert Stifter became a landscape writer of international renown and legendary researcher Friedrich Simony laid the foundations in the Inner Salzkammergut region for his mountain and Ice Age research – even today he is often mentioned in the same breath as Dachstein. 

Salzkammergut was also an important pacesetter in the technical development of the monarchy. It was all thanks to the transportation of salt that Europe’s first overland railway – the horse-drawn railway – linked the administrative seat of Salzkammergut (Gmunden) with Budweis.

All of these natural and cultural features of the region led to the Hallstatt – Dachstein/Salzkammergut region being included in the exclusive list of World Heritage sites in 1997. The committee justified its decision with the words: “The Alpine region of Hallstatt - Dachstein / Salzkammergut is an exceptional example of a natural landscape of unique beauty and particular scientific significance which also bears testimony to the ongoing human, scientific and cultural activity”. This cultural landscape combines nature and culture in a harmonious and mutually supportive manner”.