Four well worth seeing Municipalities with a long and rich history
Hüttau, Bischofshofen, Mühlbach am Hochkönig and the "sun terrace" St. Veit im Pongau - all four towns are not only part of the Ore of the Alps UNESCO Global Geopark, but each is an attraction in its own right - each in its own way and all definitely worth seeing.
First mentioned in a document in 1325, the town was characterized by mining and smelting works from the 16th to 19th century. Today, this small community in the Fritztal valley is a magnet for holidaymakers and mining enthusiasts. Hüttau is home to the Larzenbach Show Mine and the "Ores, Gold and Minerals" Museum. das Schaubergwerk Kupferzeche Larzenbach und das Museum “Erze, Gold und Minerale”.
Mining in Hüttau
The name Hüttau derives from the former smelting works in this region. In the first half of the 10th century, Salzburg's Archbishop Pilgrim I sent a priest to the village, from which it can be concluded that settlement began around this time. A copper smelting factory is mentioned in the annals around 1515. The copper mine at Larzenbach probably dates back to the 13th/14th century. It is first mentioned in documents in 1549. The copper pyrite extracted, with a copper content of approx. 15%, was processed in the "Ernst Hütte", near Niederfritz. Records from the middle of the 16th century report around 150 employees in the Hüttau mining and smelting works. This period also corresponded to the heyday while the end was already approaching.
The Larzenbach Copper Mine was founded in 1853. Ten miners were employed to mine the ore in the Barbara Mine field, in the panning plant and the washing screens. The ore concentrates were delivered to the Lend smelter until the end of mining in 1869. The building, which houses the municipal office, tourist office and the mineralogical museum "Ores, Gold and Minerals", was built in 1594 and served as the residence of the last tradesmen (Feuersenger). The exhibition comprises around 4,000 exhibits. In addition to a variety of ores from the Salzburg mines, the largest gold find in the Eastern Alps can be found here. Of course, the most beautiful exhibits from the "Larzenbach Copper Mine" are also on display.
Bischofshofen is located approx. 50 km south of the Mozart city of Salzburg in Pongau. The history of the area dates back around 5,000 years. Today it is a modern vacation and sports town, where guests and athletes from all over the world meet every year for the New Year's ski jump on the Paul Ausserleitner ski jump. The visitor center of the Ore of the Alps UNESCO Global Geopark is located in Bischofshofen in the ski jump area.
Mining in Bischofshofen
The municipality of Bischofshofen is often referred to in the annals as the "cradle of the Pongau". The first traces of human activity date back to the 6th millennium BC. Since this time, today's municipal area has been an important settlement, mining and trading location as well as a cultural center. The development of the region was decisively influenced by the mining of copper ores. With the rediscovery of the Mitterberg copper deposit in Mühlbach am Hochkönig and the start of mining in 1829, the smelter, which had been located in the narrow Mühlbach valley for almost 40 years, was moved to Außerfelden in Bischofshofen in 1885. Today's Mitterberghütten was the site of the smelting of copper ore from Mühlbach from 1887 to 1931.
The global economic crisis in the 1920s meant the end of the copper smelter as one of the most important employers in the region. One of the oldest settlements in the Eastern Alps (5.000 to 2.200 BC) with evidence of copper processing has been found on the Götschenberg. This site is popularly known as the "red rock" due to its striking iron oxide coloration. The copper ore had to be reduced to the size of a hazelnut on base plates using tapping and grinding stones or mallets. These lumps of ore were ground to the size of sand using grating stones and then heated in "roasting beds". The copper ingots were sold throughout Europe in the form of clasps and half-rings.
Mühlbach am Hochkönig
The mountain village of Mühlbach am Hochkönig can look back on over 4,000 years of copper mining history. It was shaped by copper mining until 1977 and evidence of this history can still be found today, for example in the Mining Museum with its show mine. Today, Mühlbach is a family-friendly year-round vacation destination. In Mühlbach am Hochkönig, you can take part in a guided tour of the Johanna Stollen and visit the Mining Museum in the old miners' home.
Mining in Mühlbach
The first documented mention of the village of Mühlbach as "Mulpach" dates back to 1350. Under Salzburg Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach, construction of the Sebastian Chapel began in 1519. Today, Mühlbach has an internationally recognized position as a millennia-old center of copper mining in Europe. Traces and finds indicate that Mühlbach was a 1700-year-old prehistoric industrial center that reached its heyday in the period from 2.000 to 300 BC. Slag dating back 4.000 years can be found at over 190 documented smelting sites. For around 2.000 years, the old mining industry of the Mühlbacher Mitterberg remained hidden from people.
After a discovery by chance by a farmer, the "Mitterberger Kupferwerkschaft" was founded on November 25, 1829 by Josef Zötl, the then k. k. Oberhutmann from the Pillersee ironworks in Tyrol, with 51 donors. The first mine, the Mariahilf Stollen on the Roßbach, was opened in the same year. This Ore Mine developed into one of the largest copper mines in Central Europe. Due to the fall in the price of copper on the world market, the copper mine in Mühlbach am Hochkönig was closed on June 30, 1977. Today, the mining museum and the show tunnel bear witness to a mining history that stretches back 4,000 years.
St. Veit im Pongau
The first settlement in the present-day municipality dates back to the early Bronze Age (2.000-1.500 BC). Today's municipality lies at 763 m above sea level above the Salzach Valley and is known as the "Sun Terrace". What makes it special is the healing climate, the beneficial effects of which were already recognized in the time of Emperor Franz Josef. A lung sanatorium was built here. This tradition has been revived with the themes of relaxation and regeneration. St. Veit im Pongau is home to the Sunnpau show mine and the associated Seelacken Museum.
Mining in St. Veit
First mentioned was St. Veit and the parish in a letter of donation from Salzburg Archbishop Gebhard in 1074. From St. Veit as the "original and mother parish", priests went to Goldegg, St. Johann im Pongau, Dienten and the Gastein and Grossarl Valleys as early as 910. In 1831/32, under Archbishop Firmian, 3.200 Protestant Christians from the St. Veit/Goldegg court, including many miners, were forced to leave the country because of their faith. They celebrated their last church service in their homeland at the Pfarriachstein chapel ("Fadlstoa Kapelle"), which still exists today. The Klingelberg was already home to a mining settlement at the turn of the Neolithic and Copper Age. Sunnpau copper was used to make tools, weapons and tableware 4,000 years ago. In the Bronze Age (2.000 to 1.300 BC), copper was needed, which, when mixed with tin, produced the shiny golden metal bronze.
In the Middle Ages, copper mining was resumed in St. Veit im Pongau after an interruption of several thousand years. The mining operation comprised 19 pits. In 1543, around 50 tons of ore were mined, most of which was delivered to the gold smelter in Lend as an additional product. In the second half of the 16th century, production at the St. Veit mine declined. This was due on the one hand to the drying up of the ore veins and on the other to the unmanageable water pressure in the deeper parts of the mine - which had already led to the closure of some pits in 1545. Sunnpau was closed around 1875. Since 2006, the prehistoric Sunnpau mine has attracted thousands of visitors every year as a fascinating Show Mine.