Saturday 28th September
We made the right decision yesterday to not buy the Salzburg card, it rained all night and the forecast wasn’t great so we had a choice of where to go next. The choice was a free car park near the top of a mountain and see if the weather improved or revisit a place we went to three years ago whilst we waited for the weather to clear.
Bad Reichenhall won, it has a brewery and being the 38th anniversary of the day we both met, I decided to take Lucy out to lunch. Forgive me, we’ve been here before and I totally forgot to take my camera with me, scroll back to October 2016 if you want to see better photos, these were all taken on my phone.
Walking into town we noticed a sign to the Alte Saline, the old salt works and after a little bit of effort we managed to book ourselves on a tour with the special discount that we didn’t qualify for.
Bad Reichenhall literally means Baths, riches in halls. It has been settled for 4000 years, probably because of the salt springs that are in this area. By 1400 the springs have started to dry up so mine shafts start being constructed to reach the springs under the ground. The tour was completely in German but we were given very comprehensive crib sheets so at all times we knew what we were looking at.
First stop is the machine hall. There are two 13m diameter water wheels driven by fresh mountain water flowing over the tops of the wheels. The wheels are attached to ten brine pumps which bring the salty water up from 15m below ground. Between them over 900 cubic metres of water are bought to the surface where they would have gone into heated salt pans, similar to the one we saw a couple of weeks ago but on a huge scale.
These wheels have run continuously for the last 150 years.
Going underground we find notices of when each shaft was constructed.
This is one of the fresh water tunnels, dug between 1524 and 1538. It had two purposes, one to divert the fresh water away from the salt water and secondly to power an underground waterwheel. It is 2200m long and must have been a fantastic achievement at the time.
These are two of the tunnels channeling salt water towards the main shaft (below the big water wheels). The water flows under the marble slabs. It was almost like being in the sewers but clean and without the smell.
The underground water wheel powered this pump via a series of pushrods, over 100m long, the whole mechanism was fascinating. This pump lifts 40 cubic metres of salt water over 6 m which also feeds into the main shaft.
This is the bottom of the main shaft, dozens of salty streams running all together and then lifted by the huge water wheels. Due to previous salt extractions and the damming of the Sorlach upstream the salt content of the water has diminished to make it no longer worthwhile extracting the salt. The new saltworks next door built in 1926 takes brine from Bertchesgarten, some 20 miles away. The old salt work pumps have to keep running to prevent the groundwater being contaminated with salt.
The tour finished with a small museum. After about an hour and a half we were famished so off to the Brauhaus.
Lucy’s beer hiding at the back was todays winner, Kellarbier. My German failed me once again and I misinterpreted Lucys choice of lunch (mine was fine). She ended up with selerieschnitzel which was celeriac slices baked with a breadcrumb coating and served with risotto. It was something she would never have ordered but it turned out to be a happy mistake.
I’ve taken a photo of this room before, still love the ceiling.
Bad Reichenhall is a very well to do area with big houses and all the designer shops you need or missed elsewhere. Mention of a park was made in the saltworks so we went to investigate. The gardens were lovely, end of September and everything is in bloom. You can just about see a mountain in the back.
And then we found the building we were looking for. 163m metres long and 23m high by about 8m thick and processing 400,000 litres daily. Salty water is pumped to the top and then trickles down over thin branches with the aim of increasing surface areas, allowing natural evaporation and thereby increasing the strength of the brine. We were lucky to find it running since it closes in October due to the risk of frost.
Oh dear, found some Federweisser 🙂
Good news – the forecast is still hot and sunny for tomorrow.
Bad news – I’ve just been reliably informed that there is no way on earth that I would remember a life altering event like the date of our first meeting.