The Hall Mint (Münze Hall) has a great history and Hall seems very proud of it. This is where the Habsburgs minted their coins and the Thaler (the ancester of the dollar) was invented.
The mint was established by Ferdinand II in 1567 and produced coins right up until the Bavarian occupation in 1809. In 1975 the mint was reopened and a few coins were produced here for a brief period. Now the mint only produces commemorative medals and the such like for private companies but it is also now open to the public.
Unless you are mad about coins and how they are made you will probably find the museum to be only mildly interesting and the real gem is in fact the tower (Münzeturm) where you can climb up the five floors for some great views across Hall and the surrounding valley. The main spiral staircase in the tower has been greatly modernised and has Swarovski inspired art here and there during the ascent. If you prefer, you can take the older and much more cramped and uncomfortable, but authentic, original spiral staircase as well (which has signs saying "At your own risk"). Personally I preferred the modern wide stairs and the comfort of not being cramped!
The views at the top are spectacular, but could be better if they just washed the windows! You are invited to leave a comment in the guest book on the top floor when you get there.
Admission to both the tower and museum is €8 per adult (as at June 2013), but you can just go to one or the other if you so please. The museum is €6 and the tower €4 on seperate tickets. Both are closed on Mondays. Opening hours are 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Sunday, but last admission is at 4pm.
The Castle (or Burg) Hasegg in Hall dates back to at least the 13th century and was built to protect the salt mines which gave Hall it's name ('hal' was the old German word for salt). The name 'Hasegg' probably came from the fact that the castle was at the Egg (old German for corner) of the boiling pan houses ( Pfannhaus or Has ).
The castle became a royal residence in the 15th century and the famous mint was moved here in 1567 by Archduke Ferdinand II. Unfortunately the ceremonial halls and St George's Chapel are not open to the public, but the courtyard contains a restaurant and the iconic tower is part of the museum which shows off the old mint.
The Stiftsplatz where Muntergasse meets Schulgasse is a lovely little square surrounded by some fine old buildings, including the Jesuit Church and the Convent of the Sacred Heart.
The convent has often actually been a "home for gentlewomen", starting with Archduke Ferdinand II's sister Magdalena back in 1569. It was closed down and much of it's valuable art collection sold off in 1783. In 1912 it reopened as a convent and has been such ever since.
Unfortunately the opening hours seem to be erratic and limited (and not clearly publicised) so I didn't get to have a look inside, but it's still a grand old building to see from outside, especially that gorgeous tower.
The Jesuit Church in Hall was established in 1571 to serve the gentlewomen at the convent on Stiftsplatz but underwent wholesale renovation from 1671 to 1684 and apparently this and the other church on the square (in the convent) are the only surviving examples of late-renaissance ecclesiastical buildings in teh Tirol (according to the local tourist information office).
Today you can still visit the church, even if you are restricted to seeing it's treasures through the bars that keep you from venturing too far inside. The church does have some really interesting items, including the one in the main picture of this review which is located just to your left as you enter the church in a side chapel.
This double chapel was first mentioned in documents in 1330 and the ground floor is now home to a bakery. Fortunately the upper floor is still intact and can be visited. It's now a war memorial and has a late gothic winged alter from the second half of the 15th century and frescoes dating from between 1410 and 1610.
The most interesting of these frescoes, in my opinion, is the one immediately to your right as you enter the chapel which, at the bottom, shows the dead rising from their graves and going to either heaven or hell. Interestingly there seems to be more characters wearing bishops mitres going to hell than going to heaven.
The parish church of St Nicolas in Hall is kinky. What I mean by this is that the church has a visible 'kink' in it's architecture which is most obvious inside as you look down the nave to the high alter, which is clearly off at an angle to the rest of the church. I've never seen this before in a church and I assume it must have come about as a result of the gradual expansion of the church over the centuries to accommodate the growing population of the city of Hall.
We know that there was a church here as early as 1285 (when it is first mentioned in documents) but that the church was rebuilt and extended in 1352. The 14th century gothic tower collapsed following an earthquake in 1670 and the current onion domed tower was built to replace it.
The church seems happy to welcome visitors and shows off a very grim treasure, a large collection of bones of various (and generally minor) saints.
Hall's Rathaus (or Town Hall) is a beautiful building and makes a fine backdrop for the main town square (Oberer Stadtplatz). The building was given to the town by the Habsburg Duke Leopold IV back in 1406, but it must be even older than this as Count Henry of Görz-Tirol, who twice became the short lived King Henry of Bohemia and was deposed both times, called this his "Royal Palace" in his retirement. He died in 1335.
You can enjoy the external architecture of the building but I believe the inside is not open for tourist visits. It is still used for city council meetings and weddings.
Schlossergasse / Locksmith lane is one of the most beautiful streets in the old town of Hall.
At No 13 on Schlossergasse is the oldest art and construction locksmith in Hall, dating from the 15th century.
At the southeast part of the old town of Hall , you can find the Jesuit church, Sacred Heart Convent and Stiftplatz . In 1569 the sister of Archiduke Ferdinand II – Magdalena along with her sisters and other noblewoman moved into the newly founded convent. The architectural ensemble was built by Giovanni Lucchese. In 1783 the Emperor had the convent dissolved and a major part of the splendid art collection was destroyed. The former home for noble women was reopened in 1912 and has been used as convent ever since.
On the 30 Seprember 2012 , the Convent opened its doors to visitors in celebration of its 100 Jubileum. I used this chance , of course to take a look inside of a place I wanted to visit for a while.
Next to the church is the Town hall of Hall proudly bearing the colorful coats of arms of the city and its rulers. The short-term King of Bohemia , Count Heinrich von Görz-Tirol (1295-1335) , called his “town castle” the “Royal Palace”.
Habsburg Duke Leopold IV gave the building to the town in 1406. Since then it has been used as Town Hall. The great fire of 1447 caused big damages and the town hall had to be rebuilt. The Council Chamber dating from 1451 is not only used for meetings of the council, but is also a popular and loved wedding location.
The Minister of Science and Research, Dr. Hans Fischer has given the municipality the first Austrian prize for monument preservation for the excellent renovation of the old town of Hall. It was awarded to the town mayor Dr Joseph Posch in an official celebration on the 12 october 1984.
At the back of the parish church is St. Magdalen’s Chapel, that was first mentionned in documents in 1330. The double chapel decorated with frescoes is used as a War Memorial Chapel. Not to be missed are the late-Gothic winged altar (second half of 15 century) and frescoes from three centuries ( 1410 – 1610 ).
The St.Nicolas church yard offers great backgrounds for photo shooting (along with the rest of the old town actually). You can’t go wrong with the chapel’s doors, old tombstones or stone walls with majestic mountain ridges in the background.
There was actually a wedding photo shooting , by the time I walked by…They were speaking Italian. It was Saturday afternoon – the time when everybody gets married. I wanted to stop on our way to another church where there was a wedding, but I still got my bride this day. The church itself was closed for visits, someone was playing the organ inside.
The Tombstones build in the outside of the church walls date most from the 17 century and are full of symbols among which the Eye of Providence , saints, angels, coats of arms and names of nobles (top right is one of a countess – Grafin in German).
In the year 1400, Hall had about 3 000 inhabitants. The people were deeply religious and the money was abundant, so many churches were built. Skilled builders, craftsmen and painters created unique works in Hall and its surroundings . Churches, chapels and monasteries are still to be admired today.
In the west side of the main town square is the parish church St. Nicholas .
The ground stone for the church, consecrated to Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of sailors, was layed in 1281, for the building of a chapel.
Between the years 1420 and 1440 the church was expanded from a one nave to three nave building by the builder Hans Sewer from Hall .The church has been enlarged twice and finally completed in late-Gothic style. Because the building couldn’t be extended south and the old choir was to remain in the same place the Presbytery is heading to the right. Something I have NEVER seen before.
In 1670 a strong earthquake caused the original pointed Gothic tower built in 1345 to tumble along with the night watchman. It was replaced by a Baroque onion dome, and the interior of the church was later given a Baroque turn. The Baroque frescoes were created by Adam Mölk ( 1752) .The St.Nicholaus church can be admired as 3D model in goggle earth map.
In the nothern aisle can be found the Waldhauf Chapel, consecrated in 1505. Sir Florian Waldhauf von Waldenstein was a Tyrolan knight ,confidant and advisor of emperor Maximilan I. When his ship was saved from a storm he decided to give the enormous collection of relicts he had gathered on his travels to the Parish church. A small part has been preserved till today. The Waldauf Madonna that adorns the altar stems from Michael Pacher’s school.
The “Oberer Stadtplatz”square is the living heart of the old town. The main street leading to it is the previously mentioned “Langer Graben“, where you can see on Sundays locals dressed in traditional costumes or tourists with cameras on their way up.
The local people love wearing their traditional costumes (“called Tracht”) and use every occasion to do it. Wherever on Sundays , after the church,on fests or celebrations, you can admire the ladies wearing beautiful and colorful dresses with silk aprons and the men their well known knee long leather pants and white knitted socks.
Returning to the “Langer Graben” on the way to the old town main square , I took left on the steep way up of “Kurzer Graben“. Open side doors will give you a glance into antique furnished interiors or hidden countryards where fluffy white cats peak through mosquito nets. I am dying to visit a house , any house, just to admire all the treasures that its owners have gathered through the centuries. Sneak peaks through open doors and lit windows make me want to see more.
After crossing the square and continuing straight there is another jewel in the crown of Hall – the Shergentorgasse . Vaulted arches, faded painted facades and metal bars from long gone times are still to be seen . The Shergentorgasse – Shergentor or Henchmann’s Gate was the name of the gate through which the prisonners were led on their way to execution. You can still picture it very well, standing between the austere gray stone walls of this tiny street.