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Innergschlöss: alm farming in the valley bottom, mountain forests, alpine meadows and glaciers in the High Tauern

The word Tauern is German and originally meant "high mountain pass" in the Austrian Central Alps, referring to the many bridleways and passes of the parallel side valleys of the River Salzach that cut into the mountain ranges. From the Middle Ages, when mining reached its heyday, the word "Tauern" was also used to name the corresponding ranges. The name has survived in many local placenames today.


The derivation of the name "Tauern" has been variously ascribed:

  • One view is that the name "Tauern" is an old substrate word (*taur- for "mountain"‚"mountain pass, crossing"), which passed directly (less probable) or via the Slavic language (more likely) into German. (The name "Tauern" is probably pre-Slavic, but there is also a common Slavic word, tur- "swelling", "ridge", "elongated hillock", etc.).[1] [2]
  • Another postulation is that the "Tauern" is the only mountain range that has kept its pre-Slavic name in Carinthia as it passed down the generations. It is derived from the Indo-Germanic *(s)teur- for "bull, great hill". The Tauern are so-to-speak the "bulls", the old Taurisci of Upper Carinthia, the mountain dwellers, with the old Upper Carinthian town of Teurnia being the corresponding mountain town.[3]

If the name Tauern is pre-Slavic, it could possibly be Celtic, and thus presumably linked to the Taurisci, or it could be Illyrian, a collective term possibly for the pre- and early Celtic population in the Alpine region. There is no clear link with the name of the municipality of Thaur near Innsbruck, which could be analogous to the Illyrian for "rock", but could also be derived from the Rhaeto-Romance word Tgaura ("goat").


There are several mountain ranges that bear the name Tauern today. In German, the first part of these names is usually the adjectival version of a placename. It is common in English sources, however, just to use the original name without the adjectival inflexion:

The High and Low Tauern together were historically called the Tauern Alps (Tauernalpen) and are still described as such in many sources today. They also extend to the Brenner Pass–Liesing/Palten valley, i.e. including the Zillertal Alps.

Transport links[edit]

The following transport links facilitate the crossing of the Tauern from north to south:


The following passes bear the name Tauern (from west to east):

Corresponding to the passes there are also several places called Tauerntal ("Tauern valley"), Tauernbach ("Tauern stream") and Taurach ("Tauern river"), the latter sometimes descending from a Tauern pass in both directions.


The following places also take their names from the term Tauern:

  • the Pongau municipality of Untertauern below the Radstadt Tauern Pass,
  • the winter sports village of Obertauern on the Radstadt Tauern Pass,
  • the cadastral municipality of Untertauern from Ossiach by the Ossiach Tauern
  • the hamlet of Tauern in Ossiach
  • the village of Tauer in Matrei in Osttirol


Several mountains, especially near the passes, bear names derived from the term Tauern:

Other usages[edit]


  • August Prinzinger: Die Tauern. In: Mitteilungen der Gesellschaft für Salzburger Landeskunde (MGSLK) 7, 1867, S. 46-78 (Google eBook, vollständige Ansicht, p. 46, at Google Books)
  • Heinrich Wallmann: Was versteht man unter Tauern? Eine alpine Studie. In: Zeitschrift des Deutschen Alpenvereins, Jahrgang 1869–70 (Band I), pp. 442–472. (Online at ALO).
  • Eberhard Kranzmayer: Ortsnamenbuch von Kärnten. Band 1, Die Siedlungsgeschichte Kärntens von der Urzeit bis zur Gegenwart im Spiegel der Namen. Archiv für vaterländische Geschichte und Topographie, Band 50. Verlag des Geschichtsvereines für Kärnten, Klagenfurt 1956. [4]
  • Willi End, Hubert Peterka: Glocknergruppe und Granatspitzgruppe – ein Führer für Täler, Hütten und Berge, verfaßt nach den Richtlinien der UIAA. 8th, fully revised edition. Alpenvereinsführer, Zentralalpen. Bergverlag Rother, Munich, 1990, ISBN 3-7633-1258-7.
  • Willi End, Hubert Peterka (Begr.): Venedigergruppe – mit nördlichen Deferegger Alpen (Panargenkamm, Lasörlingkamm). Alpenvereinsführer für Täler, Hütten und Berge, verfasst nach den Richtlinien der UIAA für Wanderer, Bergsteiger und Kletterer. 5th, updated and fully revised edition. Alpenvereinsführer, Ostalpen. Bergverlag Rother, Munich, 2006, ISBN 3-7633-1242-0.
  • Heinz-Dieter Pohl: Die Bergnamen der Hohen Tauern. OeAV-Dokumente, Vol. 6. Österreichischer Alpenverein, Fachabteilung Raumplanung-Naturschutz, Innsbruck 2009. [5]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Heinz-Dieter Pohl: Kärnten – deutsche and slowenische Namen. Namenkundliche Grundlagen. In: members.chello.at/heinz.pohl, 16 May 2010, accessed on 27 March 2011.
  2. ^ Pohl: Bergnamen, pp. 17 ff.
  3. ^ Kranzmayer: Ortsnamenbuch von Kärnten, pp. 21.
  4. ^ Permalink Österreichischer Bibliothekenverbund Archived 2012-07-01 at Archive.today.
  5. ^ Permalink Österreichischer Bibliothekenverbund. — Inhaltsverzeichnis online, accessed on 27 March 2011.