the River Inn, is the smallest city in Tirol. It is a
serious glass-making center whose motto is "glass is
the fortune and pride of the earth". A walk down the
main street, Sudtirolerstrasse, brings this to life with
shop after shop displaying high quality crystal and glass
products and antiques.
It is worth a trip
here just to visit Kristallglas
Kisslinger. Thousands of
visitors come to watch the glass blowers, glasscutters,
glass painters and engravers do their creative work. They
have been perfecting the art for generations and have
kept pace with the times uniting modern design with glass-making
tradition. The shops display not only a huge selection of
their wonderful creations but works of other famous
The striking architecture is
enhanced by liberal use of marble that is natural to the
area. Adding a colorful dimension, street level windows
sills of most shops are marble shelves, which
traditionally were used for displaying their wares.
High on Pfarrgasse is the elaborate
Gothic Parish Church, which for so small a town is very
large. The original, built for the residents of the town,
was later enlarged with a second alter for the copper and
silver miners who were responsible for the wealth of the
The "Ruin of Rattenberg"
sits high on a hill above the town. There is an open air
stage and wood bench seating where performances are
staged in the summer months with the remains of the
castle as a backdrop.
At the foot of the castle, built
right into the mountain, are the picturesque Nagelschmied
(nail smith) houses. The distinctive masonry of the
facades and marble window frames and portals are believed
to have originated in the 12th century. Nowadays they
house the Arts and Crafts Museum where ancient
furnishings, handicrafts and art are on display.
We took a coffee and pastry break
at the Golden Coffee Bean Award-winning Cafe Konditorei
Hacker at Sudtirolerstrasse 46. This 15th century
gingerbread house is known far and wide for its cakes and
pastries. The apple strudel we shared was among the best
and the coffee was superb. We saw the chef preparing a
delicious-looking pasta dish in the open kitchen. It's a
convivial place which encourages lingering and all the
inside and outside seats were occupied. Luckily we found
a spot at the attractive coffee bar.
When you go to Tirol, include
Rattenberg in your itinerary good things come in
Our next Tirol gem was Hall, on the
doorstep of Innsbruck. We stayed the evening at the Park Hotel,
Thurnfeldgasse 1. This ultra modern building is round in
design and all glass. When we entered our 7th floor room,
the drapes were open and it was like being outdoors. Each
room has its own laptop computer with free internet
access, a first for us and very welcome! The modern decor
and furnishings are consistent with the exterior
expression. The hotel is just outside the ancient town
walls and stands in complete contrast to the medieval
facades in Hall town center.
The Gasthaus Aniser, Schlossergasse
15, was a perfect place to meet the locals and have some
large portions of good home cooking. Start with beer, let
tradition roll with a hearty liver dumpling soup, roast
meat smothered in onions and a kinder (child-size)
portion of schnitzel (still huge). All was accompanied by
potatoes and knudel. We enjoyed conversing with a
wonderful, warm couple who joined us at our table and
then took us on an evening tour of the town. Thanks to
our new friends, this was one of the most delightful
evenings of our trip.
The marvelous architecture looked
very dramatic in the glow of the street lights. Many of
the main buildings had special lighting that deepened the
impact. The next morning, with the sunlight highlighting
the warm colors and textures, the beauty of Hall revealed
We have found Austria to be
extremely caring about the maintenance and upkeep of its
buildings and the cleanliness of all public and private
facilities (including the public WCs). The streets and
buildings of old Hall followed this tradition. Folks were
sweeping and washing as we strolled through the
picturesque streets, passageways and courtyards. Hall has
always been a fairly prosperous town. Hall means salt,
which is called white gold. The old salt mines nearby
were the source of the wealth.
The Stiftsplatz has a striking
architectural heritage formed by the Sacred Heart
Monastery, Noble Women's Convent and the Jesuit Church.
The convent was founded in 1569 for wealthy women.
Between 1611 and 1691 it was given a grand stucco finish.
It was closed in 1783 and since 1912 has been in use as a
monastery. The Jesuit College was founded in 1571 to meet
the intellectual needs of the convent. The monastery was
fully renovated between 1671 and 1684. In the late 17th
century it received a Baroque makeover. It was closed in
1773. The regional court is now housed in the complex
which includes a fine Baroque inner courtyard.
After Hall was given town status, a
castle was built to protect the salt works, the river
traffic, the bridge and the old salt road. The Hasegg
Castle is home of the Hall Mint, and the legendary Mint Tower which is
considered to be one of the most prominent achievements
of late medieval architecture. Its ingenious geometrical
structure amazes the experts. With a twelve- cornered
superstructure it is the unmistakable landmark and symbol
of the city of Hall. Best of all, we were able to wind
our way up the inside spiral staircase and be rewarded
with views of the old town, Inn valley and Karwendel
The first international currency in
the world, the Hall "Taler" was minted here!
The mint was closed in 1809 and coins not minted here
until 1976 for the Innsbruck Winter Olympics. At that
time, the castle was made accessible to visitors.
The fascinating coin museum
provides an overview of the history of coins and some
impressive exhibits of minting machinery and how it
changed overtime. At the end of the tour we were invited
to make our own coins, which are lovely souvenirs.
The Rathaus (Town Hall) was rebuilt
after the great fire of 1447. Colorful coats of arms and
attractive sculptures dominate the facade along with a
balcony that was for the town crier, who read the daily
news to those gathered below. The council chamber, a
popular venue for weddings with its magnificent beams
from 1451, is still used for town council meetings.
Nearby is the St. Nikolaus Parish
Church which was initially consecrated in 128l has been
enlarged three times. Because this could be done only by
going north, the alter is curiously off center. The
original Gothic tower, which collapsed in the earthquake
of 1670, was replaced by a Baroque onion dome. The Knight
Florian Waldauf who was a dear friend of the Emperor of
Austria was allowed to indulge his passion for collecting
bones. The Waldauf chapel
in the front left section houses his bone collection.
Florian and his wife are buried under the alter.
The St. Magdalena Chapel curves
around in front of the Parish Church. The double chapel
has shops on the ground floor and the upper frescoed
section is used as war memorial chapel.
Next door is the smallest Parish
Church which is an architectural delight. Two arched
wooden doors open to reveal a beautiful alter that was
brought from a cloister in the mountains where miners
prayed. Huge wall paintings depict good and evil.
The Salt Mining Museum in the heart
of town is a miniature mine where visitors descend to
view the galleries, shafts, and drilling machinery. The
museum brings to life the atmosphere inside the Hall
Valley's abandoned salt mines.
The town is a shoppers
paradise. Well kept shops with the symbolic wrought iron
signs line the winding streets while outdoor shopping and
snacking can be enjoyed at the upper market and the lower
market plus at the Farmers market on Saturday
mornings. Craftsmen from around Austria come to show and
sell at the famous pottery market held twice a year. The
huge Christmas Market attracts throngs from around the
region and beyond.
If youre into biological (organic)
products the shop Gutz aus der Natur, Eugenstrasse 12, has a mouthwatering
assortment of local spirits, sausages, cheese, oils,
vinegar, jams, honeys, juices and wines. All the products
are well presented and visitors are welcome to browse.
The entire region of Hall,
is a place of natural beauty for sport or pure relaxation.
There are year-round festivities built around music,
dance and culture.
Nearby Hall is Wattens home to the
amazing Swarovski Crystal Worlds. We decided to move on
to Innsbruck and after lunch take the shuttle bus across
from the Innsbruck train station for our visit to
Swarovski Crystal Worlds.
Salzburg | Kufstein_Kitzbuehel
Rattenberg Hall | Innsbruck
Zell Am See_Kaprun | Spittal
Klagenfurt | Graz | Vienna
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