That must be how the fewer than 950 locals feel each summer as the hordes invade this pretty Austrian town on the edge of the Hallstätter See, the Hallstatt Lake.
The world’s first known salt mine is just above the town, although we didn’t have time to visit it and the adjoining museum during our trip last summer.
Hallstatt has been inhabited for millennia, but it first appears as a market town in 1311, illustrating that it had a certain economic importance.
The salt mines were in operation until the mid-twentieth century.
Today, it’s a beautiful place to visit and explore, but on summer days such as the one we visited on, the waves of tour buses can feel a bit claustrophobic and Disneylandesque. On the day we saw Halstatt, half of China’s population seemed to also be in town.
It’s probably best to try to explore early in the morning or later afternoon, or perhaps stay overnight to enjoy the pretty town in silence. That’s what I’ll be doing next time.
In the town itself, with its homes built almost over one another and into the hillside rising at the edge of the lake, there is little land available for a cemetery. For this reason, bodies are exhumed after 10 years and removed to an ossuary.
In the Charnel House chapel of the parish church, decorated skulls are on display, with their elaborate painting and calligraphy announcing the deceased’s name, profession and date of death. A moving, if macabre, display, and a powerful reminder of the passage of time …