Regio of Zell am See / Kaprun

Zell am See is a spa town and winter ski resort in the federal state of Salzburg, Austria. It is the administrative center of the Zell am See district (Bezirk), also known as Pinzgau. Zell am See is locatedon the Zeller See, and has a population of 9,638 (2001).

Geographical location

Zell is located at the Zeller See (4.5 km long; 850 - 1400 m wide; area of 4.7 sq.km; depth up to 68 m). It is backed by the 2000m (6560ft)Schmittenhohe mountain (a cable car runs from the outskirts of the town to the summit, where there is a restaurant).


Zell am See was populated already at the times of the Romans. In 740 AD, by order of the Archbishop Johannes (John) of Salzburg, monks founded the village "Cella in Bisonzio". Zell am See belongs to the eldet bayuvarian settlements of the Pinzgau. It received the rights of a market town in 1357, and its city rights on January 24, 1928.

Further important facts of Zell am See

* 1868 Foundation of the Voluntary Firefighters

* July 30th 1875 Railway opening (Giselabahn), start of tourism in the summer months

* July 15th 1879 Opening of the Hotel "Elisabeth"

* 1881 Start of steam navigation with boat "Elisabeth" on the lake

* 1885 Empress Elisabeth (Sissi) visits the Schmittenhöhe (mountain)

* 1887 The Municipality takes over the ship navigation on the Zeller Lake

* 1893 Visit of the Austrian Emperor Franz Josef I

* 1894 A landmark of the town - das Grand Hotel - is built in three stages

* 1898 Business start of the Pinzgau Local Railway (Pinzgauer Lokalbahn)

* 1906 Foundation of the Skiing Club Zell am See; first winter sports festival

* 1906 and 1910 Acquisition of electric motor boats, end of steam ship navigation

* 1914 Railway track becomes double tracked

* 1924 A light plane lands on the sheet of ice of the Zeller Lake

* 1928 Construction of the tennis courts (used for ice-skating and ice-hockey in winter)

* January 25th 1928 Commissioning of the Schmittenhöhebahn (switchback up to the Schmitten mountain)

* 1928 Foundation of a chapter of the Austrian Aeronautical Association (Österr. Flugtechnischer Verein)

* 1930 Opening of the Hauptschule (like Secondary Modern School)

* February 1937 5. Academic World Wintergames

* 8. Mai 1952 Opening of the Alpine Gliding School

* 15. Mai 1959 Opening of Airport Zell

* 1961 Zell receives the status of a climatic spa

* 1966 Big damages due to a thunderstorm, the River Schmitten transgresses its riverbed

* 1968 Construction of the Spa- and Sportcenter and foundation of the Europe Sports Region

* 1973 Ski-Worldcup (December 12th to December 20th)

* 1975 Rosenberg Castle (16th century) becomes the town hall

* 1976 Opening of the new hospital

* 1977 Commissioning of the one-rope switchback "Zeller Bergbahn"

* 1979 Consecration of the pedestrian area

* 1979 Worldcup Downhill Women

* 1981 Honorary citizen/Dr.h.c.Ferdinand Porsche

* 1981 Honorary citizen/Commercial Council Dr.h.c. Louise Piech-Porsche

* 1996 Opening of the circumnavigation tunnel (Schmittentunnel 5110 m)

* 2000 Award ceremony of the Sydney Olympia winners Steinacher + Hagara (Tornado-Sailing)

* 2004 Award ceremony of the Athens Olympia winners Steinacher + Hagara (Tornado-Sailing)

* 2005 Christening of the third ship on the Zeller Lake, the "Schmittenhöhe)

Kaprun is the best-known partner of Zell am See in the Europa Sport Ski Region. But Zell has had a reputation for being a large, traditional ski centre from the early days of winter sports tourism, and thus with a somewhat aged lift system. Kaprun, however, has the image of a hi-tec, high altitude, glacier resort, with year round skiing above 3000m, accessed by a state of the art gondola and six seater chairs.

In fact neither reputation is quite correct! Zell am See`s ski area has invested heavily in new lifts and snow making whilst Kaprun has managed to retain its pleasant Tyrolean village atmosphere and is actually at only a slightly higher elevation than Zell am See, 5km (3 miles) away. It has its own small ski area on the Maiskogel, but to reach the high altitude skiing of the Kitzsteinhorn you first need to drive or take a bus (15 minutes) to the base of the funicular or gondola. They will lift you high up to the ski area and its networks of 18 gondolas, chairs, funiculars and drags.

Kaprun is an ancient village, first mentioned in documents of 931 AD (February 9th to be precise!) when it had a slightly more wordy title: `Chataprunnin in Pisoncia`. A castle was built there during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and remained in the control of two wealthy families for over 500 years. The Napoleonic Wars saw defeat for the area and the castle passing to Bavarian control. In 1812 a local forester bought the castle and it changed ownership a dozen times before being purchased by the Gildemeister family in 1921. Currently it is owned by a private association who use it for a variety of events.

Kaprun`s reputation changed from that of a run-of-the-mill farming community to a centre for climbers and mountaineers about a century ago. More fame developed in 1955 when two huge beautiful reservoirs were completed above the village higher in the Pinzgau valley. These great feats of engineering still attract many visitors today. Another, in 1965, the Gletscherbahn underground railway up to the Kitzsteinhorn glacier, made Kaprun`s name as one of the first year-round winter sports centres, bringing more international fame.

Kaprun now attracts more than 700,000 guests annually, a sizable chunk of the 2 million plus visitors to the Europa Sport Region as a whole. Although tourism is obviously the main industry, farming continues quietly in the background.