Bad Ischl – salt, spa & emperor
The “capital” of the Salzkammergut
There is no way of getting around Bad Ischl during a trip to Salzkammergut. But who wouldn't want to come here, this town has so much to show and tell: from emperors and composers to salt, brine and wealth – this town has seen it all.
Emperor Franz Josef I. in Bad Ischl
On 18th July 1914, an 84-year-old man with impressive side-whiskers and moustache was sitting in his residence in Bad Ischl and wrote one of the direst letters of the 20th century. The manifesto's title: “An meine Völker” (To my peoples). Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria was the man's name and the consequence of his letter was World War I.
Two years later the emperor died; he had been the reason for yet another Bad Ischl boom. But in order to understand why he and his beloved Sisi came here every year, we have to go back a bit further in time.
From salt to spa town
The German word for salt is “Salz”, and like the name, Salzkammergut might suggest it was one of the most important commodities here. Bad Ischl was a crucial transhipment point and often the site for bloody conflicts. For centuries (it was first mentioned in a document in the 13th century) Bad Ischl had a turbulent history; yet another important chapter was bound to be added in the 19th century.
Sisi, brine and summer holiday
In 1821 the Viennese doctor Franz Wirer introduced the positive effect of brine baths in Bad Ischl to the broad public. The first spa guests arrived the following year. From then on the little town enjoyed great popularity: the curative effect and the beautiful landscapes made Bad Ischl the prototype for the Austrian “Sommerfrische” (a short summer holiday for people from the city). It was in 1849 when the emperor and his empress made their first trip to Bad Ischl and with them came aristocrats and artists. Empress Elisabeth of Austria, called Sisi, found the peace and quiet here that she could not enjoy in Vienna. Other notable summer guests were Franz Lehár, Anton Bruckner, Johannes Brahms and last but not least the “King of Waltz” Johann Strauß. They all provided a unique radiance to the streets that can still be seen and felt today.
Discover Bad Ischl
Today you will find remains of Bad Ischl's rich history in the town as well as in the whole region. During a day trip to Bad Ischl there is so much to see:
- The Emperor's Mansion and park
- The town museum with historical and contemporary exhibitions
- Lehár Mansion: the master of operetta lived here and there is a museum dedicated to the composer. You might also be interested in the Lehár-Festival that takes place every summer.
- Various museums and churches are definitely worth a visit.
A very important reason for a trip to Bad Ischl is simply the town's flair. Breathe in the atmosphere of past centuries, especially on sunny days. Lovely places and streets lined with houses, mansions and churches from the past and in between the River Traun winds past the Emperor's Mansion …