Lake Hallstätter See, Salzkammergut
The Hallstätter See is a lake in the Upper Austrian share of the Salzkammergut and is situated north of the Dachstein mountain range. To the east of the Hallstätter See, you will find the Sarstein, a mountain. The Hallstätter See is famous in Austria and beyond; in fact, alongside with the Mondsee and the Wolfgangsee, it is probably the one Salzkammergut that receives the most international attention in the form of foreign tourists. There town of Hallstatt is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site and famous for its remoteness, its salt mines, Celtic heritage and the Neolithic culture that was named after the town. Hallstatt can be found at the western shore of the lake.
The Hallstätter See is 5.9 kilometres long, 2.3 kilometres wide and more than 100 metres deep. Its water level can be managed via a little dam. Tourists usually do a combination of sightseeing in Hallstatt and either a cruise or a trip with the Zillen or Platten, long boats which are essentially the same as English punts. When I studied in England, I heard once that punts were first developed at the Hallstätter See, then brought to Tübingen in Germany and from there, they spread to various towns in Europe, including Cambridge and the other place - but only around 1900. I have never looked into the subject, so I can′t really verify it. However, I can confirm that punting is a popular leisure at the Hallstätter See.
Culture of Hallstatt & the Hallstätter See
Getting to Hallstatt in fact necessarily involves a little cruise if you travel by public means of transport: The town′s station is on the other side of the lake, visitors are taken to Hallstatt by boat. Swimming and diving are also popular at the lake; however, due to the rather low population density, the Hallstätter See would not be considered a water-sport paradise. It is more of a nature place; fishing is popular, with pikes, trouts and perches as the most common fish species. During some very cold winters, the Hallstätter See freezes and skating is possible.
A highlight every year is Corpus Christi in June, when boats with floral decorations perform the traditional procession on the lake. Hallstatt itself would not offer enough space for a procession in the conventional style. The event is famous in Austria and always draws people to the town.
The water quality of the Hallstätter See is very high. In 2005, a brine pipe broke at the nearby salt mine and 11,000 cubic metres of highly concentrated brine entered the lake. This equals some 3,000 tons of sodium chloride. The brine is heavier than normal water and quickly sunk to the bottom of the lake. It is assumed to remain there without damaging the eco-system on the long run. A similar phenomenon is known from Lake Traunsee.