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Pilgrimage Church of Maria-Hilf

Listed under Sacred Spaces in Styria, Austria.

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The small town of Halstatt and its adjoining lake, Halstattersee, derive their names from Hal, the old Celtic word for salt. For at least 2,800 years salt has been mined in the area, making the Halstatt mines among the oldest in the world. From 1000 to 500 BC the town flourished as a European trading center and this period of Celtic culture has become known as the Halstatt epoch of the early Iron Age. Following the Celts, the salt mines continued to be worked by the Romans and later the medieval Europeans; today the mines are an underground museum of prehistoric technology. Little is known of Celtic or Roman religious practices at Halstatt yet by the 1300's the hillside church of Maria-Hilf had become an important place of regional pilgrimage. Most scholars discuss Halstatt solely in terms of its commercial activities during the Iron Age but the beautiful lakeside town is more significant for its extraordinary atmosphere of peace. To meditate in the quiet shrine of Maria-Hilf, to walk amidst the forests and hills surrounding the town, or to glide by row boat across the placid waters of Halstattersee is to leave for awhile the hustle-bustle of the modern world and enter an inner realm of timeless serenity.

More on Halstaat from Sacred Sites.

Written by  Martin Gray.

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