1000 years is a looooong time where really a lot can happen. In fact, the Gastein valley is one of the touristic resorts in Europe with the longest history. While we are waiting to travel there again for real, let us travel back a little bit in history of this amazing valley!
The very beginning...
In 1964 there was found the first hint of human existance in the valley - just underneath the old Hotel Straubinger. It was a flint ax dating back to 4000 years a.d. which is shown today in the Gastein museum. Traces of streets and coins were found and could be dated back to Roman times. In the 8th century farmers started to cultivate the fields in the valley.
Gastein and the thermal water
Gastein was part of the German Bavaria until 1297 when the Arch Bishop Conrad IV of Salzburg negotiated that the region from then on would belong to Salzburg. Even if the thermal water was used before, in 1350 the first bathing operation as we know it today was installed in the valley. Since 1365 Gastein attracted high ranking personalities who wanted to check out the healing power of the Gastein thermal water. Emperor Friedrich III, for example, visited the valley in 1436.
Silver, Gold, and thermal cures
In the second half of the 14th century the Gastein valley establish a second important industry branch: gold and silver mining reaching its peak in 1557 with 830kg of gold and 2723kg of silver. While from then on more and more privately run mines were closing down, the thermal cures were growing in importance. In 1794 the Grand Hotel Straubinger - a former tavern - and the adjacent Badeschloss - a former pig barn - were opened as hotels. The Villa Solitude, today a very small and intimate hotel with excellent cuisine, was the very first high class restaurant and winery in Gastein. With the Habsburg monarchy the valley could welcome from then on more and more often prominent guests including also Franz Joseph and his Empress Sissi.
Photo credits: TVB Gastein
Gastein and the Belle Epoque
In the late 19th and the early 20th century in Gastein further Belle Epoque buildings were built. Also, Gastein got connected by train. In 1938 the German "Preussag AG" was searching for a gold mine in the Rathausberg mountain, but instead of gold they found something that is still today important for our health: the radon galleries were built as the biggest therapy centre for inflammatory rheumatic illnesses in the world. In 1958 Gastein got famous with the ski world championships on the slopes of the Graukogel mountain, in 1969 the first public thermal complex of Austria - the Felsentherme - was opened, and in 1980 the Belle Epoque Grand Hotel del Europe opened its doors. Only one year later the surrounding area was declared as a Nationalpark.
After WWI and II the thermal baths were reopened, as well as the radon galleries. More and more hotels were reopened and for many years the Grand Hotel del Europe hosted one of the nine Austrian casinos bringing further prominent guests into the valley like Liza Minnelli or Falso.... just to mention two of them. In our partner hotel Villa Excelsior the psycho-therapist Siegmund Freud was a regular guest and got always the very same room....
The past years of Gastein
Even if the valley offered and offers really EVERYTHING - from the two thermal complexes to the radon galleries, from the mountains and meadows to the charming Alpine huts, from the cultural highlights to the culinary delights, from the simple apartments to the excellent 4* hotel, the historic centre of Bad Gastein around the stunnignly beautiful waterfal was decaying over the years... which extremly hurts a Gastein addict and every touristic heart working in the industry. But....
.... what will the future bring?
Just by the end of February there was a press release that in 2023 the centre of Bad Gastein shall be completely revitalized. In two years time there will be three new (or better said two old-new and one completely new) hotel buildings in the very centre, just at the waterfall: the 5* Grand Hotel Straubinger (partly listed for preservation) with 50 rooms, the 4*S Hotel Badeschloss with 8 rooms and a 35m high completely new hotel tower with 88 rooms. Fun fact: the future of Gastein is set forth where the first hints of human existance in the valley were found! The complex is completed by the "Alte Post" building which shall accommodate a concept store, offices, and seminar rooms. Apart from the revitalized hotels to be, there is the plan to finally connect the historic centre around the amazing waterfall with the other centre including the thermal complex Felsentherme, the skilift Stubnerkogelbahn and the trainstation with an underground tunnel including an escalator. What a nice preview for a great destination!
Photo credits: TVB Gastein
We do not wait until 2023 to travel to Gastein valley. The nature, the radon galleries and the thermal complexes paired with great hotel options are there already now. Let's get prepared for the summer season. Register now for the webinar series and get professional sales tips!