The history of the Dürrnberg is inseparable connected with salt: 4000 years ago the people of the stone age used saliferous springs, the Celts were proficient in mining. Many centuries the Dürrnberg was the centre of the salt production in Middle Europe, until the import of the cheaper sea salt from the Roman empire stopped the production and ruined the economic basis of the Celtic settlements. In medieval times the mining of salt started again at the Dürrnberg and lasted until 1989.
The quantity of the raised salt and the monopoly position of the archbishops of Salzburg assured the wealth of the territory of Salzburg. With crude methodes they weakened the rival saltmine Bad Reichenhall and the Dürrnberg turned out to be the market leader. The city of Hallein developped itself from a little town called "Mühlbach". Hallein received its town charter in the year 1230, and lived from the mining and the converting of salt and associated crafts. Nowadays they run the saltmine as a touristic attraction, which visit about 250.000 tourists a year.
Banishment of the protestants
A dark chapter in the history of the clerical principality of Salzburg is the persecution and banishment of people, who were of different faith. Jewish communities were wipped out, the protestants of Salzburg, who were geared to the teachings of Luther were oppressed and often banished from the country. At the end of the 17th century, 70 miners and their families were banished from Salzburg. Their properties and their abilities remained in possession of the archbishop: before they were allowed to leave the country, they had to show "catholic" miners their work and it wasn`t possible for them to sell their property in the shortness of time, which was left.
The height and ending of the banishment was the eviction order of 22.000 protestantic Salzburgers in the middle of the 18th century, which was caused by archbishop Firmian. Many of the banished didn`t survive their troublesome travel to their new homecountries in Sachsen, Ostpreussen, the Netherlands and America.
Josef Schaitberger, preacher and miner, author of the famous "protestantic letters".
The convention of the saltmine
The Austrian-Bavarian convention of the saltmine managed the relationsship between Salzburg and Bavaria. The convention controlled the logging for the mining, the tunneling on the other national territory and the chartered privileg of a working place in the saltmine for long established residents of Dürrnberg and Berchtesgaden. The privileg of a working place wasn`t linked to a person but to real estate. In the year 1957 this oldest valid treaty of the republic was renewed and is, in spite of the modified situation, still unchanged valid.
The saltmine shuts down
With the closure of the saline on the "Halleiner Pernerinsel" in 1989 a tradition lasting for many milleniums and an essential element of the Halleiner identity as a workers and mining city was lost forever. For the city the closure of the mine brought a long lasting identity crisis, which could be subdued little by little.