Hall is a town of about 13,700 people located just down the valley from Innsbruck, about 5 km east of the city. Its proximity to Innsbruck may make it seem like a mere suburb of the city, but Hall is an interesting place on its own. The Old Town of Hall is very well preserved, and walking into it is like stepping into the Middle Ages. My Austrian roommate thinks it is one of the most beautiful places in Austria.
Most of the people in Tyrol simply refer to this town as Hall, but its official name includes the addition “in Tirol” to distinguish it from other towns with similar names, like Halle and Hallein. (Side note: the English spelling for this region is Tyrol, but for the town’s actual name I use Tirol, the German spelling). The name Hall comes from the Celtic word for salt, and Hall was first mentioned in a deed in 1232 as a saltern. At that time and for a few centuries afterwards the main industry of the town was salt, as there was a salt mine just north of Hall in modern-day Absam. In 1303 Hall officially became a town, expanding its market and trading opportunities.
Hall in Tirol is home to Hasegg Castle, which for centuries contained one of the most important mints in Europe. The Royal Mint was established in Hall in 1477 and began producing solver coins called “talers,” which were originally called “guldiners.” In 1571 roller press technology, in which coins were pressed by machines, developed at the mint, which eventually spread around the world and led to the worldwide circulation of the taler. This currency sparked the development of many other currencies from around the world, including the US dollar, the name of which comes from “taler.” This mint has been nominated by the Austrian state as a candidate to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Though it is small and does not take much time at all to explore, Hall in Tirol’s beautiful and medieval Old Town and the Royal Mint make the town worth visiting. It is probably best done as a day trip from Innsbruck.
View from the Mint Tower
Courtyard of the Mint
The tower of the Mint
Hall in Tirol Old Town center