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Posts tagged ‘My Halle an der Saale’

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My Halle (Saale): Making White Gold Since 3000 BC

What do the following six towns and cities have in common?

  • Hall in Tirol, Austria
  • Hallein, Austria
  • Hallstatt, Austria
  • Schwäbisch Hall, Germany
  • Bad Reichenhall, Germany
  • Halle an der Saale, Germany

Hall is more than a large covered room

With “hall” in their names, all six towns listed above are historically associated with salt production1,2,3. The word “salt” is represented in Greek as hals and in Celtic (Brythonic) as hal. In pre-Roman Europe, the towns of Halle, Hallstatt, and Hallein were three centres for salt-evaporation4 which eventually became salt-making centres for the surrounding regions of Prussian Saxony, Salzkammergut, and Salzburg, respectively. Archaeological finds around Halle and along the Saale river5 uncovered evidence of heated brine (at Doläuer Heide) from the mid-neolithic age (about 3000 BCE) and briquetage ceramic vessels from the late-Bronze age (about 1000 BCE).

Mark Kurlansky wrote1: “… Salt is so common, so easy to obtain, and so inexpensive that we have forgotten that from the beginning of civilization until about 100 years ago, salt was one of the most sought after commodities in human history.

Once a rarity, salt was a unique additive to improve quality of food preparation and consumption. Food preservation with salt also became a critical measure for survival, but also for improving the quality of food preparation and consumption. Whoever controlled salt production, sales, and distribution held power, wealth, and prestige.

German sayings with salt:

•   “Freundschaft ist des Lebens Salz.” (Friendship is the salt of life.)
•   “Das Essen ist versalzen, du bist verliebt.” (The food is too salty; you must be in love.)

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My Halle (Saale): 12 highlights in the Händelstadt

Featured: “5 towers” with 4 (spires) from St. Mary’s Church (left-centre) and 1 from the Red Tower (right-centre). Händel monument is at lower centre.

You’re visiting Halle to learn and discover:

  • why salt also known as “white gold” was critical to the city’s development;
  • how Martin Luther and the Reformation left their mark in the city;
  • composer Händel’s birth house, his upbringing, and how he learned the organ;
  • the oldest German chocolate factory continues producing “Halloren Kugeln”; and
  • how the Museum of Prehistory houses the world’s oldest depiction of the night sky.

Located in the present German federal state of Saxony-Anhalt, the city of Halle along the Saale river is one of the larger cities in east-central Germany. Making salt was of great historic and economic importance that the name of the city “Halle” is derived from the old Celtic/Brythonic word hal, meaning “salt”. The name of the river “Saale” is derived from the old German word for “salt”1. With salt bringing wealth to the city through trade, Halle became a trade city or “Handelsstadt.” With the birth and upbringing of composer Händel in the city, Halle also became a cultural city or “Händelstadt.”

Halle’s present-day population at 240-thousand people is neck and neck with the 241-thousand people in the the state capital city of Magdeburg, 75 kilometres to the north. But proximity means Halle is also connected with Leipzig, only 31 kilometres to the southeast in the state of Saxony. Halle and Leipzig are connected with the S-Bahn Mitteldeutschland train service, and the two cities share an airport located about halfway in-between.

1 The Welsh word for salt is “halen”, and the German word for salt is “Salz”. See also “Celtic culture: a historical encyclopedia,” Volume IV (M—S), pg. 1555. Editor J. T. Koch (ABC-CLIO, 2006).


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