Mining has a long tradition in Gastein. It is believed that even the Celts and Romans searched for gold here. The flourishing gold mining industry attracted not only miners but also wealthy farmers. The craft industry also flourished. The archbishops promoted this development in their own interest, drew up mining regulations, granted loans and ensured the development of trade routes. As a result, craftsmen, farmers, citizens and merchants from Franconia, Swabia and Saxony and even from Italy came to participate in the economic boom.
Even today, mining is still carried out in Gastein. But not to find precious metals, but for the sake of health. Rheumatism patients experience relief from their pain in the Gastein Heilstollen, a unique healing facility worldwide. Miners, so-called miners, are still responsible for the care and maintenance of the gallery. A pleasant side effect is that none of the men working there suffer from joint problems.
In honor of the miners, the miners' festival, the so-called "Böckstein Sword Dance", takes place every year on the first Sunday in September. The scene of the sword dance is always the old mining settlement in Böckstein, where hundreds of years ago the gold ore processing was located. Today, parts of the former plant can still be seen in the mining museum in Alt-Böckstein.
Since the 15th century, the sword dance has been performed with the aim of demonstrating the miners' sense of class. On the one hand, the carrying of swords was a privilege that was not granted to any other profession. The right to bear arms for miners was introduced in 1405, as they were exposed to many dangers during their mining marches. On the other hand, a representative of the miners was "lifted up" during the sword dance - a great symbolic character for this profession.
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