Long known for the Hallein Salt Mine in the Dürrnberg plateau, settlements in the area have been traced 4000 years back. It was a Celtic community from 600 BCE until the Romans took over their Noricum kingdom in 15 BCE. The name Hallein is one of many Hall-names in the south German language area that may have something to do with salt mining and for which Celtic, Germanic and other origins have been discussed.
Hallein was the site of a work camp annex to the Dachau concentration camp during World War II. After the war, it was the site of a permanent Displaced Persons camp (Beth Israel). In mid-1947, ORT opened a school in two of the barracks, teaching tailoring, dressmaking, electrical and radio technology, baking, beautician training, and upholstery to over 200 students. Later ORT also offered English language classes. In 1948, with the closure of other DP camps, Hallein became the Austrian collection point for Jewish emigrees to Canada and the United States. The camp closed in 1954.
The Saltworks on Perner Island, opposite the Salt Office. Now used as a Salzburg Festival Concert Hall
Hallein hosts two museums of historic and musical interest. The Keltenmuseum displays artifacts and narrative describing the early Hallstatt and La Tene Celtic cultures as well as the development of salt mining in the region through the Middle Ages and Renaissance. The Silent Night Museum features information relating to the composing of one of the best-known Christmas songs of the 19th century. It documents the life and times of composer Franz Xaver Gruber. The museum houses the guitar originally used by lyricist Joseph Mohr and several signed copies of the sheet music.