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88km (55 miles) SE of Salzburg; 19km (12 miles) S of Bad Ischl

Hallstatt, a small market town south of Bad Ischl, is a beautiful Austrian village. It stands on the left bank of the dark, brooding Hallstättersee in the Salzkammergut, at the province's southernmost tip, bordering Land Salzburg and Styria. Many people drive to the lake through Styria, via Bad Aussee.

The Hallstättersee is a narrow lake, about 8km (5 miles) long and 2km (1 1/2 miles) at its widest, almost completely surrounded by mountains. Its waters are so dark they're often called black.

Now a modern town, Hallstatt is the oldest still-inhabited village in Europe, owing its longevity to the local deposits of salt. Its perch against a mountain on a rocky terrace overlooking the Hallstättersee seems like a curious place to build a town, but this was the site of an early Iron Age culture dating from 800 to 400 B.C. Many Iron Age relics have been unearthed in the area. The mining of salt from the mountain behind Hallstatt was known among pre-Celtic tribes of 1000 B.C. It died out in medieval times but was revived by the Hapsburgs and continues to flourish today.