Bad Hofgastein is old spa resort in the centre of one of Austria's largest ski areas, the Gastein Valley. The area is famous for its thermal healing water, accessed by several spas as well as the huge and varied ski area linking several resorts in the region. The old village has a pleasant pedestrianised centre and a good range of restaurants, shops, hotels and other facilities to cater for most holiday needs. The centre is dominated by the Pfarrkirche church, built between 1498 and 1507. At its heart is a magnificent baroque altar which entered the annals of art as the great masterpiece of the painter Josef Andrä Eisl and the sculptor Paul Mödlhammer. Skiing came to the area in the difficult years straight after World War 2. The first lift, the "Haimalm" on the "Graukogel" was finished on the 30th December,1945. Chairlifts and then gondola followed over the next decade. After the building of the new Nassfeld alpine road (1970 to 1972) the area was finally joined together around Nassfeld for winter sports; the region "Sportgastein" was created. The Alpine World Ski Championships were staged here in 1958 when Toni Sailer (Austria) won three gold medals (Downhill, Giant Slalom and in the Combination. The Healing effect of Gasteins Thermal Water is due to its Radon content. Therapies range from classical Thermal Baths to the Gastein Healing Gallery and the Steam Bath. Gastein's more famous bathing visitors have included presidents, kings, queens, emperors, empresses and prime ministers from dozens of countries around the world. Of particular note Mozart's mother in 1750, followed by his widow nearly 90 years later in 1839, Johann Strauss in 1850, Mrs. Winston Churchill in 1912, during the Second World War Emma Göring, the wife of Nazi party member Marshal Hermann Göring who often visited his wife here while she was having a cure, as well as propaganda Minister Dr. Goebbels who came to Bad Gastein twice. Film Stars such including Douglas Fairbank Junior. with his family in 1950 and Thomas Mann a year later. The area was once famous for gold mining, originally perhaps by Celts, more than two thousand years ago and then by the Romans. Gold was said to be only about five metres below the surface.
An old spa village in the centre of one of Austria's largest ski areas, the Gastein Valley. The area is famous for its thermal healing weater, accessed by several spas as well as the huge and varied ski area linking several resorts in the region, with runs up to eight kilometres (five miles) long.