Bad Hall: Spa Town in Upper Austria
Bad Hall is a spa town with approximately 5,000 residents, situated in the province of Upper Austria. Bad Hall is situated in the Traunviertel and belongs to the district of Steyr-Land. It is fairly well-known in Austria for its thermal springs and associated spa and has been so since the 19th century. The springs were extended artificially in the 1950ies, when holes were drilled in the quest for oil - instead, further accesses to the main water reserve were created. The water is considered to be particularly beneficial for people suffering form cardiovascular diseases or problems with their eyes, respiratory system and links. West of Bad Hall, oil was in fact found and oil and gas fields are still being exploited.
The 19th century spa boom has resulted in the development of typical Imperial spa facilities: Gründerzeit villas, promenades and Vienna-style cafes. However, the hot springs have been used for much longer than one would guess from looking only at the 19th century face of Bad Hall: Even Celtic tribes that once populated the area of today′s Bad Hall knew of the salt water springs and used them for producing salt.
When the monastery of Kremsmünster was founded in 777 A.D., it was endowed with vast lands - including three salt plants around what is Bad Hall, back then an important source of income for the young monastery. The name "hall" is an old German term for salt and can also be found in other significant salt towns - Hallein or Hallstatt, for example, or in the German Bad Reichenhall.
Rise of Spa Culture in Bad Hall
Over the course of the Middle Ages, a town developed that gained significance as an administrative and trading centre. First the name "Herzogenhall" developed, later only "Hall" remained. The town gained market rights in 1287, which makes it to one of the oldest market towns in all of Austria. Later, the importance of Hall did not continue to develop, and the town was surpassed by other places in the region. During the Napoleonic Wars, Hall was repeatedly occupied by French troops. After the Congress of Vienna, the town started to prosper again - this time more than ever: Europe′s aristocracy discovered the fun of spas and taking the cures by drinking mineral waters.
The medical use of the hot springs in Bad Hall was recognised and in 1826, the first spa was opened. Visitors could take baths or apply the water orally - by drinking vast amounts of it. One year later, a scientific investigation led the people of Bad Hall to realising that their water was characterised by an unusually high concentration of iodine. In 1837, the local physician Dr. Josef Starzengruber developed the first guidelines for "taking the cure" in Bad Hall.
However, it wasn′t until the province of Upper Austria took over the maintenance of the hot springs in 1855 that a proper spa culture developed in Bad Hall and its surroundings. As a result, the town of Hall was re-named into "Bad Hall" ("Bad" means "bath" or "spa" in German) in 1876 and went into the golden age of spa tourism.
Continue with "Bad Hall - Part II"
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