Bad Gastein (formerly Badgastein) is a spa town in the district of St. Johann im Pongau, in the Austrian state of Salzburg. Picturesquely situated in a high valley of the Hohe Tauern mountain range, it is known for the Gastein Waterfall and a variety of Belle Époque hotel buildings.
Area: 170,6 km²
The languages of Austria include German, the official language and lingua franca; Austro-Bavarian, the main dialect outside Vorarlberg; Alemannic, the main dialect in Vorarlberg; and several minority languages.
Bad Gastein has vibrant pagan traditions that have been slightly assimilated into Roman Catholic tradition. One example of the pre-Christian Alpine traditions is the Krampus, now adopted as one of the Companions of Saint Nicholas. The Krampus is an elemental, horned and demonic character, playfully re-enacted by bands of male revellers during December and also once every four years during a Perchten event or Perchtenlauf. The Perchtenlauf happens every four years at Bad Gastein. The most recent was in 2014.
The Gastein valley is accessible by the Tauern Railway, a major railroad running from Schwarzach-Sankt Veit in the north across the Alpine crest through the Tauern Tunnel to Spittal an der Drau, Carinthia in the south. Frequent EuroCity and InterCity trains going along this route connect Bad Gastein with many Austrian cities like Vienna, Linz, Salzburg and Graz along a single circuit. The B167 Gasteiner Straße highway also passes right through the Gastein valley. Through traffic from the northern branch-off at Lend in the Salzach valley passes the lower municipalities of Dorfgastein and Bad Hofgastein before reaching the Bad Gastein centre. However, in Böckstein at the head of the valley, the continuation southwards to Mallnitz in Carinthia requires cars to roll onto a shuttle train (Autoverladung) for a short trip through the Tauern Tunnel.