Lesser known Saalfelden, a market town since the 14th century and with a population of around16,000, is the closest city to the delightful traditional chalet lodge design resort and – time permitting – has several attractions of its own to reward inquisitive visitors.
Lying in the centre of the Saalachtal Valley, the city is spectacularly surrounded by mountain ranges that include the Steinernes Meer, the Hochkönig massif and the Leoganger Steinberge.
It has chateaus and castles – four in the area – and churches, such as the parish church of Saalfelden which has links back to the Middle Ages but in appearance is Gothic due to many transformations.
And it also has the unusual!
Not many places have a shrine to an emigrated husband, but in essence that is the story behind the building of the Thorer chapel in Saalfelden.
Then there is an actual hermit residing in one of the last remaining hermitages to be found in Europe, and you can take the ‘path of silence’ to idyllic Steinalm and pass by. The hermitage dates back to 1664 and the first hermit, a Franciscan monk, lived here permanently. Today the resident hermit changes every few years.
This is a wonderful way to spend a morning or afternoon, enjoying a pleasant 60-minute walk through forest up to green Alpine meadows, with guide signs to the flora and fauna you may encounter on the way.
photo credit : Igby