Hall in Tyrol
Alongside with Schwaz, Hall was the most important mining town of Tyrol. This led to a booming economy during the late Middle Ages. By the mid-15th century, Hall, Schwaz and Vienna were the biggest cities in Austria (note that the principality of Salzburg was not part of Austria until 1816).
Unlike Schwaz, which had grown rich on silver mining, Hall drew its wealth from salt mines. Its name refers to "salt" - compare it with Bad Reichenhall in Germany, Hallein near Salzburg or Hallstatt in the Salzkammergut: all places with historical salt mining industries. The bloom of Hall was started by Sigismund the Rich, uncle of the legendary Emperor Maximilian I.
He transferred the mint of Tyrol to Hall and made the town the leading economic centre of Austria. The currency "Taler" that was made here in Hall was hugely popular all over Central Europe and the US Dollar is said to be named after it. Today, most attractions of Hall date back to this period: Late Gothic style in an Alpine setting, not too dissimilar from the atmosphere found in Schwaz. Explore the town by walking along the cobbled alleys.
The Main Sightseeing Attractions
There are two main squares, the Oberer and Unterer Stadtplatz (upper and lower town′s square). Stop by at the Gothic Pfarrkirche St Nikolaus, the parish church. The town′s 14th century Rathaus or town hall was originally a royal manor and used by Maximilian I as a hunting lodge.
The buildings still contains some Renaissance ceilings in the Rathausstube Hall, which is open for visitors. The province′s most important exhibition site for modern art, the Kunsthalle Tirol, can be found in the southern part of the town centre.
There are two former monasteries in Hall, both founded by Archduchess Magdalena around 1600: A Carmelite Damenstift and a Jesuit monastery. The latter one′s church, Jesuitenkirche, is thought to be the first example of Baroque architecture in the county. You can learn more about Hall′s history in the local mining museum. However, with "real mines" accessible in nearby Schwaz, this might be neglectable.
Waldauf Chapel & Burg Hasegg Castle
A more impressive attraction is the Waldaufkapelle Chapel. It is named after the locally born Florian Waldauf, who was sort of the private assistant to Emperor Maximilian I. Becoming an increasingly wealthy and powerful man, Waldauf did what all wealthy and powerful men do: he picked up an expensive hobby. In his case, he started to collect relics of grade-B saints from all over Europe. In 1501, he opened his collection to the general public by arranging what was mostly an array of skulls in this chapel. The altar of the Chapel is a fine example of late-Gothic art.
Finally, let′s move to the main attraction of the town: Burg Hasegg Castle and the mint facilities. The 16th century bastion dominates the historic town and the "Münzerturm" or "mint tower" will provide you with stunning vistas over Hall and its surroundings. The castle also contains the local Heimatmuseum or regional museum.
Compared with the building, the museum′s exhibition is rather underwhelming. It includes the usual collection of folklore items and crafts, alongside with some references to the mining and minting business. Some references to Maximilian I give a nice insight to the glorious days of 16th century Tyrol. Maximilian got married to this second wife in the castle′s chapel.
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