Gmunden is a little town of about 15.000 inhabitants in Upper Austria, on the Lake Traunsee (425 m above sea level), in the very touristic area Salzkammergut, just 80 km far from Salzburg and 70 km from Linz.
Literally Salzkammergut means "Estate of the Salt Chamber", having the name after the salt-mines of the Habsburg Empire. As a matter of fact Gmunden had been the centre of salt distribution to Vienna, Germany and Czech since the 15th Century.
Since the following century the existence of clay has led to ceramic production, which made Gmunden a well-known ceramics town, helped by its role in the salt distribution. It all started with the ceramic ovens called "Kachelofen", but soon handicrafts for plates and vases grew up and at the end of the 19th Century Gmunden became a representative town for Art Nouveau. Afterwards the idea of the "Wiener Werkstatten", producing objects in small series and with lower costs, took over in Gmunden. It was during this period that the "Gmunden Keramik" Factory, still existing, was found. Today it employs about 300 people.
This town on the lake might seem little, but it is really rich in history and art and among our cultural events and sport attractions you will find something that suits you for sure.
It is definitely worth a visit!
In the 1990s the little town Gmunden became famous also thanks to the TV series SchlosshotelOrth, the stories of a family running a hotel in the famous watercastle on the lake.Yet the wonderful Seeschloss Ort is not the only attraction in Gmunden, in fact there are fascinating places and activities both for children and adults: tours of the lake on boats, rowboats and on the 142-year-old paddle steamer Gisela and concerts.Listening to the "green-flamed" ceramic bells of the Town Hall in Rathausplatz, feeding the swans near the shore and trying the intense taste of the rich local specialties are a must.
Something very unique in Gmunden is the Straßenbahn: in effect Gmunden is the smallest town having a tramway. Built in 1894, the tramway connects the city centre to the railway station for 2,543 Km, which makes it one of the shortest tramways in the world.
If you are more sportspeople, then there is also something that suits you: you can run, do some jogging or gym and ride your bike in the natural green area along the lake, or you can climb the several mountains surrounding the town (Grünberg and Traunsteinjust to mention a couple). As alternatives there are rowing and sailing schools also for children and in Toscanapark you have the possibility to jog, but also to rest or read a good book, surrounded by green, with a view on the lake.
Children can also have fun playing in many different green parks and atthe beach resort StrandbadGmunden, equipped with football and volleyball fields. There is also atown theatre (dated 1872), which has been also a cinema since 1997. Here not only nowadays movies but also rare and niche movies are shown in the German-dubbed version.
An important spectacular meeting is the Lichterfest, the celebration of lights with a firework performance on the shore of the lake Traunsee, that takes place every year on the second Saturday of August.
If you come to Gmunden, you should really pay a visit to the K-Hof museum, where temporary exhibitions are displayed, together with the permanent international ceramics exhibit and fossil-and-mineral-dedicated rooms. Guided tours of the Gmundner Keramik manufactory are also possible and if you are a fan of ceramics, for sure you can not miss our annual appointment with the Austrian Pottery Market,always on the last weekend of August, and the final exhibition of the Ceramics Symposium in September/October (see paragraph below).
Cyclic Cultural Events
In 1973 the Cultural Department was founded in order to better coordinate every cultural and sport event in town, from concerts, music festivals, fashion shows and exhibitions, to regattas and marathons.
Since 1988 Gmunden and the Association for the Promotion of European Ceramic Artists organise the famous Pottery Market during the last weekend of August, when about 130 selected artists from many countries exhibit and sell their works.Yet the Pottery Market is not only a market: it is a moment of celebration and of cultural and professional exchange.
For this reason the Market is always accompanied by live music events and animation for children, who will have the chance to see and try by themselves what it is like to create vases from clay.
The Ceramics Symposium, a biennial appointment which first took place in 1956, aims to make young artists work together for 5 weeks. During these weeks the artists will create works of art especially for this occasion, some of whom will be chosen to be brought around Europe as part of the final travelling exhibition. Other selected works will be shown permanently in the ceramics exhibition room in the K-Hof museum in Gmunden.