Bad Gastein

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Bad Gastein
Gastein valley in the Hohe Tauern range
Gastein valley in the Hohe Tauern range
Bad Gastein is located in Austria
Bad Gastein
Bad Gastein
Location within Austria
Coordinates: 47°6′0″N 13°1′0″E / 47.10000°N 13.01667°E / 47.10000; 13.01667Coordinates: 47°6′0″N 13°1′0″E / 47.10000°N 13.01667°E / 47.10000; 13.01667
Country Austria
State Salzburg
District St. Johann im Pongau
 • Mayor Gerhard Steinbauer (ÖVP)
 • Total 170.6 km2 (65.9 sq mi)
Elevation 1,002 m (3,287 ft)
Population (1 January 2014)[1]
 • Total 4,223
 • Density 25/km2 (64/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 5640
Area code 06434
Vehicle registration JO

Bad Gastein is a spa town in the Austrian state of Salzburg, situated at the northern rim of the Hohe Tauern national park. It has 5,838 inhabitants. The name "Bad" means "spa", reflecting the town's history as a health resort. It is located at the head of the Gastein valley, about 1,000 metres (3,280 ft.) above sea level. The townscape is characterised by historic multi-story hotel buildings erected on the steep slopes. The name is occasionally rendered in old books and newspaper reports as Badgasteln. [2]

Town centre


The Gastein valley was first mentioned as Gastuna in a 963 deed, then part of the Duchy of Bavaria, and was purchased by the Prince-Archbishops of Salzburg in 1297. It was originally a gold mining area and the site of an ancient trade route crossing the main ridge of the Central Eastern Alps. About 1230 the minnesinger Neidhart von Reuental referred to the hot springs in his Middle High German poem Die Graserin in der Gastein, they were visited by Emperor Frederick III as well as by the Renaissance physician Paracelsus.

In the 19th century the waters of Bad Gastein became a fashionable resort, visited by monarchs as well as the rich and famous. Some notable guests of the past included Empress Elisabeth of Austria (Sisi) and the German Emperor Wilhelm I with his chancellor Otto von Bismarck as well as Subhas Chandra Bose,[3] a leading Indian nationalist, Tsar Ferdinand I of Bulgaria, King Faisal I of Iraq, King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia and Iran's last king Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, industrialists like Wilhelm von Opel and artists like Heinrich Mann, Robert Stolz and W. Somerset Maugham. In 1865 Bismarck had signed the Gastein Convention with Austria concerning the administration of the provinces of Schleswig and Holstein after the Second Schleswig War.

The composer Franz Schubert is believed to have sketched a score of a Gastein Symphony in 1824. No score of this Gastein Symphony appears to have survived, but it is often identified with the unfinished Symphony No. 7 (D. 729), the Octet in F (D. 803), or the Grand Duo (Sonata in C major) for piano four-hands (Op. 140, D. 812).

Mass tourism was pushed by the opening of the Tauern Railway station in 1905. From the 1960s on the resort lost some of its former notoriety and many former hotels sit empty. During the past few years, Bad Gastein renovated its Felsentherme and the Congress Center.

Spa and Therapy[edit]

The local Heilstollen (literally 'healing tunnel') thermal spring water earned the town its early fame. Theophrastus Parcelsus (1493–1541) had studied the spring water to discover its secrets. Marie Curie (1867–1934) and Heinrich Mache (1876–1954) helped to discover that it contained radon and as a result radon therapy began in the town.

Radon inhalation therapy at Gasteiner-Heilstollen began as a result of further investigation into the anecdotal experiences of silver miners who noticed improvements in symptoms from various ailments including arthritis.[citation needed] Ankylosing spondylitis (also known as Bekhterev's disease), in particular, has seen positive results from treatment at the Heilstollen.[citation needed] However, there is very little empirical evidence of any benefit to inhaling radon. For example, one of the few studies to test the efficacy of spa treatments for Ankylosing spondylitis found no statistically significant difference between a group that spent three weeks at Bad Gastein and a group that spent three weeks at a different spa without radon inhalation therapy.[4]

Gastein waterfall

Places of interest[edit]

  • Nikolauskirche (1380)
  • Gletschermühlen
  • Felsentherme
  • Gasteiner Heilstollen
  • Gasteiner Heimatmuseum im Haus Austria


View from ski slopes of the valley with Bad Gastein in the bottom-right

Beside its water treatments, the town is popular for winter sports. It hosted the 1958 World Championships in alpine skiing. Bad Gastein also regularly is a scene of the snowboarding and boardercross worldcup. The town also hosts a women's tennis tournament annually, attracting top players like Julia Görges.

Most of the Gastein Valley contains moderate to good skiing/snowboarding, with plenty of chairlifts and gondolas. Many establishments on the slopes offer warmth, food and strong drinks.


Bad Gastein has vibrant pagan traditions that have been slightly assimilated into Roman Catholic tradition. One example of the pre-Christian Alpine traditions is the Krampus, now adopted as one of the Companions of Saint Nicholas. The Krampus is an elemental, horned and demonic character, playfully re-enacted by bands of male revellers during December and also once every four years during a Perchten event or Perchtenlauf. The Perchtenlauf happens every four years at Bad Gastein. The most recent was in January 2006.


Memorial plate commemorating Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I's engagement in building the railroad to Bad Gastein

The Gastein valley has connections to other parts of Austria via rail, road and identifiable cycle routes.

It is a stop along the Tauernbahn major railway line from Schwarzach-Sankt Veit in the north through the Tauerntunnel to Spittal an der Drau in the south, connecting Bad Gastein with many Austrian cities like Vienna, Linz, Salzburg and Graz along a single circuit. It is therefore easily accessible by the frequent EuroCity and InterCity trains going along this route.

The B167 Gasteiner Straße federal highway also passes right through the Gastein valley. Through traffic is simple from the northern entrance at Lend in the Salzach valley passing the municipalities of Dorfgastein and Bad Hofgastein. However, the continuation southwards to Mallnitz in Carinthia requires cars to roll onto a train for a short trip through the Tauerntunnel by motorail.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Statistik Austria - Bevölkerung zu Jahres- und Quartalsanfang, 2014-01-01.
  2. ^ New Mexican (Newspaper), Santa Fe, NM, January 8, 1988, p. 8, The Daily Register (Newspaper) Shrewsbury, New Jersey, February 3, 1976, p. 12, The Daily Colonist (Newspaper), Victoria, BC, August 29, 1909
  3. ^ Bose 2011, p. 127: Quote: "He spent a month and a half—from November 22, 1937, to January 8, 1938—with Emilie at his favourite resort of Badgastein."
  4. ^ van Tubergen et al., "Combined spa-exercise therapy is effective in patients with ankylosing spondylitis: a randomized controlled trial." Arthritis Rheum. 2001 Oct;45(5):430-8,


External links[edit]