In the largest part of the museum we recount the history of the spa. It’s a history of 5,500 years because while it was still doubted 70 years ago that the Romans knew the Gastein thermal springs, today, due to newer discoveries and their scientific analysis, we are in a position to assume the utilisation of thermal waters in the New Stone Age, maybe even of a settlement in the present centre, around 3, 500 B.C. The materials and workmanship of the objects show they came from distant places and were therefore expensive. Combined with the areas they were found in, it can be assumed that they were sacrificial offerings, which were brought to the spring sanctuary.
Right at the beginning of the corridor through history, the following finds are exhibited: 2 stone axes, of which one was found directly beside the “Fledermaus” spring on the edge of the waterfall and the other on the north slope of the Pyrkerhöhe in the town centre. Also from the New Stone Age, are objects found on the mountain passes of the Hohe Tauern, which confirm that these routes over the Tauern were already known at that time.
The adjacent display of Roman coins, due to the place where they were found, indicates a use of the thermal waters.
The bath system first reached its heyday in medieval times. The most prominent spa guest in 1436 was the German Emperor, Friedrich the Third, who was the central figure of this period. Many other prominent guests, as well as the Nikolaus Church (built in 1389) and the Strochner Charity Hospital Trust are presented here.
Opposite we find a magnificent plaque from the late baroque period, donated by Princes Porcia in 1759 for the success of the Gastein spa cure. A contemporary community bath is depicted on the plaque.
Next is a commemoration of Mozart’s family and their connection with Gastein, especially that of Maria Anna Mozart, the mother of W.A. Mozart, who was in Gastein in 1751 and spent 94 hours in the baths. On display is an example of one of Gastein’s books of honour, which have served to immortalise the more or less prominent guests since the end of the 17th century. Every entry was combined with a donation, which was used for the maintenance of the churches.
The next display takes us in to the eventful, dramatic 19th century, which brought Gastein within a few decades from a medieval spa to a glamorous international one.
And so we have arrived in the 20th Century. The second half is a time of great changes, which leaves deep marks in the internationally famous spa.
At the end of “A Walk through the history of the spa” a 3 dimensional statistic shows the number of guests in Gastein in the years 1850-2010. A surprising aspect with interesting conclusions.
A special hint to railway fans: the Tauernbahn museum in Schwarzach/St.Veit
Literary index for the archaeological finds:
Hochalpine Alpenstrassen im Raum Bad Gastein-Mallnitz
Böcksteiner Montana, Vienna 1993
Obtainable in the Gasteiner Museum