Salt was once white gold in the region spanning southern Bavaria and northern Austria. Like Salzburg and Hallstatt, like Bad Reichenhall and Traunstein, Berchtesgaden was built on a mountain of revenue from the salt trade. Founded in 1102 as an Augustine monastery and raised to the status of a market town in 1328, Berchtesgaden changed hands several times over the centuries. Back and forth Berchtesgaden and its hinterland went between the Archbishop of Salzburg and the Wittelsbachs until, in 1810, the area definitively became a part of Bavaria.
Nowadays, Berchtesgadener Land lies in the far southeast of Bavaria, like an arrowhead jutting into Austria just west of Salzburg. Salt has faded from view, replaced by tourism in the late nineteenth century as the region’s main industry. First came the painters and literary figures, then came the cityfolk along the railways, all drawn by the sublime and wild landscape.
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