In 1968, Austria’s first thermal bath was opened in the middle of the Gastein valley. The rock bath which is the father of the Austrian thermal and wellness tourism is celebrating its 50th jubilee this year. Thanks to the spa water from the depths of the valley, Bad Gastein was already one of the most famous bathing resorts in Austria in Imperial times competing with the popularity of Sisi’s and Franz Joseph’s favourite resort, Bad Ischl.
Gastein Valley is a popular holiday resort in Austria, located in the Hohe Tauern National Park, at an altitude of 1000 meters, with Bad Gastein, the town with a special atmosphere in its centre. The thermal water of Gastein was discovered in the 7th century. In Roman times, the baths were built by thermal springs and people visited it to rest and relax already at that time. The first prospering of the town was brought by the gold mining boom in the Middle Ages and the second was at the turn of the century. The income from the nearby salt mines contributed to the economy of Bad Gastein, however, most of it enriched the primateship of Salzburg. Although, 50 years ago the seduction of gold led local people inside the Radhausberg mountain, it was already clear during the tunnel constructions that there was something more precious there than gold.
In the middle of the Gastein valley, at about a 1000 m altitude, almost above the clouds, 18 springs provide the thermal water of the unique Felsentherme Bad Gastein. The steam baths and the indoor- and outdoor pools carved into the rock walls are spectacular. The stimulating and revitalizing thermal water of the various pools and baths of this miraculous spa complex have different temperatures every day. The buildings of the spa town from the good old days harmoniously adapt to the beautiful Alpine surroundings, thus it is no surprise that the town of Bad Gastein is famous for its turn of the century atmosphere. The picturesque scenery of Gasteinertal, as well as the hot water springs attracted the Viennese aristocracy, and in their circles, it became more and more popular to visit this town year after year in the beautiful summer months and spend a few weeks in the wonderful Salzkammergut area.
One of the most famous sights in Bad Gastein is the waterfall, located right in the city centre. The water of the Gasteiner Ache mountain river falls from a height of 340 meters in three drops. Viewing it from the stone bridge built in 1840 and enlarged in 1927, the waterfall reveals itself from the most beautiful perspective, which has inspired several famous painters and poets.
Another main attraction of Gastein is Heilstollen, a spa-cave system, deep inside the mountain, in the vents of the former mines. The healing effect which is unique in Europe, is the result of the mixture of the radon-filled air, the altitude above sea-level and the thermal water evaporating from the depth. It is highly recommended for patients with respiratory, muscular and skin disorders. A small train takes you inside the mountain, where caverns have been built in four stages. (http://www.gasteiner-heilstollen.com)
Besides Bad Gastein, Alpen Therme Gastein, the spa bath in Bad Hofgastein – 9 km from Bad Gastein- is also worth mentioning. It offers visitors a rich variety of recreational facilities. With its 32,000 square feet of floor space, panorama view to the Alps and several entertainment options, it provides a fantastic experience fulfilling all kinds of needs. In its Relax World, there are a variety of thermal pools, massage jets, Oasis of Quiet with panoramic views, sun terrace, 25-metre lap pool, whereas in its Family World there are a rafting slide, a speed slide, a spin-around pool, a multimedia room and a playhouse.
The entire place is all about health and total recharging, provided by the six thematic sections of the rock bath, the thermal baths in the hotels, the world-famous Gastein cave, the healthy alpine climate and a total of 17 radon-containing springs. In addition to bathing, Gastein Valley offers its visitors who would like to relax and unwind attractive ski and cross-country skiing trails in the winter season, and wonderful hiking, running and Nordic walking trails, cycle paths and mountain bike trails in the summer season.
Bad Gastein is located in Austria, in the province of Salzburg in the city of Sankt Johann im Pongau. The total area is 170.62 km², with a population of 4 152 and a population density of 24 persons / km². The area lies 1002 meters above sea level.