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Hallstatt Austria

You'll find scores of fairy-tale-like villages scattered throughout Europe, but few – if any – hold a candle to Hallstatt, Austria. With its 16th-century alpine houses, market square and sloping mountainside layout that hugs the banks of Lake Hallstatt, this Iron-Age hamlet is as historic as it is picturesque.

Although mostly modernised for the incoming tourist crowds, Hallstatt remains one of the oldest continuously inhabited villages in Europe. Its history reaches all the way back to 800 BCE, when pre-Celtic tribes settled here to reap the benefits of the local salt mine. Thousands of prehistoric graves still fill the local cemetery, and more Neolithic artefacts unearthed from the site are displayed at the Hallstatt Museum.

Two of Hallstatt's most popular attractions are reachable by cable car. The first is Salzwelten, an active salt mine in use for centuries that visitors can take tours of. The other local site of interest is the Dachstein Caves, a network of ice caverns full of glittering stalactites, stalagmites and frozen waterfalls. Back in town, the Parish Church offers another conversation-starter: the Karner, commonly referred to as the 'bone house', was used as a spillover site for burials in the 17th century and houses a collection of painted human skulls.



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