The Hallstatt-Dachstein alpine landscape is one of visual drama with huge mountains rising abruptly form narrow valleys. Its prosperity since mediaeval times has been based on salt mining, focused on the town of Hallstatt, a name meaning salt settlement that testifies to its primary function. The salterns finally closed down in 1965. Some parts of the mine are now accessible to visitors, including areas made safe for displays arising from the continuing programme of archaeological investigation.
The Town of Hallstatt was re-built in late Baroque style after a fire in 1750 destroyed the timber buildings. Because of its special historical evolution, this cultural landscape has retained a degree of authenticity in nature and society that is outstanding in the alpine region. Resulting from a harmonious interaction between man and environment it has preserved its spatial and material structure to an exceptionally high degree. This quality and context has been further endorsed by a large number of visiting artists whose many canvases and representations are additional fitting testimony to its value.
Among the more notable buildings are the St Mary's Roman Catholic Parish Church built in the late 15th century to replace an earlier Romanesque structure, parts of which survive. Having suffered only slight damage during the 1750 fire its only Baroque features are the roof and the multi-tiered spire. It contains a number of outstanding works of art, including a late Gothic altarpiece from the Astl workshop. The small St Michael Chapel and Charnel House is a Gothic structure in the tiny graveyard immediately north of the parish church. Its basement, viewable at ground level, contains a neatly arranged assemblage of human skulls and long bones, the skulls being marked with names and other details of the deceased.
The Hallstatt region is comprised of a multifaceted natural landscape which includes both historic and cultural dimensions. With its unique network of caves and variety of flora and fauna, the region is considered a complex phenomenon. It is not only a cultural heritage site but also has the distinction of being a natural heritage location as well. In 1997 Hallstatt-Dachstein was included in the World Heritage Site list of UNESCO.
CHERPLAN Pilot Site: Municipality of Hallstatt