Alte Saline

Useful Information

Location: Alte Saline 9, D-83435 Bad Reichenhall.
(47.720981, 12.877408)
Open: APR to OCT daily 10-16.
NOV to MAR Tue-Sun 11-15.
Closed 01-JAN, Good Friday, 01-NOV, 24-DEC, 25-DEC, 31-DEC.
Fee: Adults EUR 13, Children (4-16) EUR 7, Students (17-25) EUR 11.50, Disabled EUR 11.50, Families (2+1) EUR 29.
Groups (20+): Adults EUR 11.50, Students EUR 6.
Classification: MineSalt Mine SpeleologySalt Cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: T=12 °C.
Guided tours: D=45 min, L=400 m, St=270.
Photography: not allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Alte Saline.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


696 Brewing pans first mentioned in a document.
1483-1532 Duke George the Rich and Duke Albrecht IV acquire all the brewing sites owned by the bourgeois boilers and have the technical facilities thoroughly modernized.
1795 natural cave discovered during the construction of the test tunnel.
1782-1798 Elector Karl Theodor streamlines the entire production process, production increases while energy consumption and firewood demand fall.
1816 King Max I and Count Montgelas commission the Royal Bavarian Saltworks Councillor Georg von Reichenbach to build a brine pipeline from Berchtesgaden to Bad Reichenhall.
1834 a devastating town fire destroys most of the facilities, King Ludwig I has the salt works rebuilt.
06-JUN-1850 water wheels in the salt works completed.
1929 salt production is completely relocated to the new salt works.



The Alte Saline (Old Salt Works) in Bad Reichenhall is, as the name suggests, a facility in which salty water, i.e. brine, was vaporised by heating and salt was extracted in this way. It is a historic building that was rebuilt under King Ludwig I after the devastating town fire of 1834. In the 20th century, a modern salt works was built in Bad Reichenhall and the Old Salt Works was converted into a salt museum. We added this museum quite late to because we only list museums in certain cases. That was obviously a big mistake, because this museum is not just mining-related, it actually has an underground section, a historical mine of a very special kind, and is therefore a real show mine, not just a museum.

But let's start chronologically. There have always been brine springs in Reichenhall, which have certainly been used since prehistoric times. The first documented mention of brewing pans dates back to the 7th century, when Bavarian Duke Theodor II presented Bishop Rupertus of Salzburg with 20 "Pfannstädel" and a third of the spring water in 696. Salt was white gold, of considerable value, and so the mining rights were highly coveted. There were countless disputes over ownership claims, mining rights and customs duties. Until the end of the 15th century, the springs and the evaporation pans were in the possession of numerous different owners, both ecclesiastical and secular. This came to an end when Duke George the Rich and Duke Albrecht IV acquired all the brewing sites in the hands of the bourgeois boilers, a monumental endeavour that took almost 50 years from 1483 to 1532. Finally, they had the technical facilities completely modernized. Salt production increased continuously, so that firewood had to be brought in from continually increasing distances.

Elector Karl Theodor streamlined the entire production process between 1782 and 1798, further increasing production while reducing energy consumption and firewood demand. The salt works functioned well and efficiently, so what could be more obvious than to process the brine extracted 15 km away in Berchtesgaden here as well. As early as 1816, King Max I and his minister, Count Montgelas, commissioned the royal Bavarian salt works councillor Georg von Reichenbach to build a brine pipeline. The result is a technical masterpiece. A devastating town fire destroys most of the facilities in Reichenhall in 1834. The salt works were rebuilt under King Ludwig I.

The new building is an industrial building, but at the beginning of the 19th century this term had a different meaning. The architects Joseph Daniel Ohlmüller and Friedrich von Gärtner built the "most beautiful salt works in the world". But the building is not only beautiful to look at, it is also the oldest existing continental salt works in Europe. And although the salt springs still bubble to this day, salt production was moved to a more modern salt works in 1929. The salt works now houses the salt museum, and it is possible to visit the tunnel system and the brine springs. The Salzmuseum (salt museum) has five sections with different themes. The so-called Markenmuseum (brand museum) shows the history of the Bad Reichenhaller brand. The medical properties of salt, iodine and folic acid are also explained. In the Bad Reichenhaller salt shop you can buy the complete range of table salt. The highlight of the visit, however, is the Brunnhauskapelle (Brunnhaus Chapel), which was rebuilt by Joseph Daniel Ohlmüller in neo-Byzantine style.

But the special thing is the technical side. A 5 km long pipeline from the mountain valleys of the Lattenberg brings the water to drive the overshot water wheels. With a diameter of 13 m and a weight of 13 t, they turn 3.5 times a minute. The water flows off at the surface, but the power is transferred underground using rods. Another water wheel is driven by an underground freshwater river. It is undershot due to the lack of a gradient. It transfers its power to a 103 m long rod with deflection levers to the Karl-Theodor-Pumpe (Karl Theodor pump). This raises the brine from the spring 6 m and then it flows through a channel at the bottom of the tunnel to the main shaft. At the beginning, the salt content was 24 %, but has decreased considerably over time. The brine is therefore only used for spa purposes.

A special highlight is the Salzgrotte (salt grotto), a natural cave with a floor area of around 280 m² and a height of 5 m. It was discovered back in 1795 during the construction of the test tunnel. A natural salt cave is quite exceptional and extremely rare, and in Germany this is probably the only one.