The story of the Old Salt Works in Bad Reichenhall

The Old Saltworks Bad Reichenhall is the oldest existing inland saltworks in Europe. The beginnings of salt extraction in the Bad Reichenhall area even go back to the Bronze Age. Discover a piece of Bavarian history.

Guests in front of the regional model in the Salt Museum
Salt extraction in olden times

The sources prosperity

Salt was probably already being extracted in the Bad Reichenhall areaaround 2000 to 1000 BC. This is suggested by a Bronze Age rim axe found in the area of the brine springs.

The Reichenhall brine pans (evaporation ponds) were first mentioned in writing in the 7th century. In 696, the Bavarian duke Theodor II gives Bishop Rupertus of Salzburg 20 "Pfannstädel" (brine pans) and a third of the spring water. This is the prelude to countless disputes over ownership, mining rights and customs duties for the white gold. Until the end of the 15th century, numerous documents show ecclesiastical and secular lords as owners of the Bad Reichenhall salt evaporation ponds.

 Guests standing above the grading water in the Old Salt Works
Technical innovations

Development of the salt industry

From 1483 to 1532, Duke George the Rich and Duke Albrecht IV acquired all the breweries owned by the bourgeois boiling lords and had the technical facilities completely renovated.

By the 17th century, salt production had risen to 370,000 quintals per year. Enormous quantities of firewood have to be brought in from ever greater distances for the boiling process. Elector Karl Theodor successfully tackles this problem.Between 1782 and 1798, he streamlined the entire production process. Production is increasing, while energy use and firewood demand are decreasing.

Visitor at the Karl Theodor underground exhibition site
Family taking a selfie in front of the Hauptbrunn building

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Old Salt Works in Bad Reichenhall?

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A breakthrough

The old brine pipeline – a technical masterpiece

In 1816, the royal Bavarian salt works councillor Georg von Reichenbach is commissioned by King Max I and his minister, Count Montgelas, to build the brine pipeline from Berchtesgaden to Bad Reichenhall. He achieves a technical masterpiece: the construction of the brine pipeline and the construction of the famous Reichenbach pump, a water column lifting machine to overcome the differences in altitude.

Former construction of the first brine pipeline

Where can one visit the historic sites today?

The historic installations can be admired today in the Old Salt Works and the Berchtesgaden Salt Mine and on the hiking trail along the old brine pipeline from Berchtesgaden to Ramsau.

Fire and new construction

The New "Old Salt Works in Bad Reichenhall"

In 1834, a devastating town fire destroyed most of the saline facilities. The saltworks are rebuilt under King Ludwig I. The magnificent industrial building, the main well house of the Old Salt Works, now houses the historic salt springs and the Salt Museum. Salt production has long since moved to the modern Bad Reichenhall salt works.

The new salt works in Bad Reichenhall
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Huge water wheels in the old salt works Bad Reichenhall
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Happy family on the slide