History Impressions
Standing at the entrance to the Salzberg high valley above Hallstatt, Austria, the original structure of the Rudolfsturm (Rudolf’s Tower) was a medieval defence tower dating back to the late 13th century. From that time until 1954, the tower served as a residence for the respective mining operations manager.

Its significant placement about one kilometre west and above the centre of the village of Hallstatt and in the midst of the landscape of the UNESCO’s Hallstatt-Dachstein/Salzkammergut World Heritage site, means the tower offers an exceptional view of Hallstatt, the Hallstätter See (Lake Hallstatt) and the surrounding mountains. The building has undergone numerous structural changes over the centuries and is now used as a restaurant.

Its conspicuous site upon the so-called Turmkogel might have been significant in prehistoric times as well. It is adjacent not only to the world-famous Hallstatt burial ground to the east, but it is also the only place in this high-elevation valley upon which the sun shines during the winter solstice.

Middle Ages
The architectural history of the Rudolfsturm – which was known as the "Ruedolfstain" in the 16th century – has been thoroughly examined in the literature; an article written by Georg Heilingsetzer is particularly noteworthy in this regard. 1284 is the year most often specified as its construction date, and when this is cited, Dicklberger (1817) is the source named. But there are also sources giving the construction date as 1294.

Modern Era
According to Heuschober (1903), the stone structure to the southwest – connected to the tower only by a wooden vestibule in the early 19th century – housed the "Schünzimmer" on the ground floor, i.e. the work room of the Markscheider (mine surveyor), who drew up the mine plans. The original layout of this room corresponded to that of the kitchen above it, and both rooms served as a junction for the entire building complex. Just like the rooms in the tower, the rooms in the building on the southwest side had windows facing both the salt mine and the market town of Hallstatt. A laundry room and a chamber with a natural spring were built onto the mountain-side of this structure and covered by a monopitch roof; these were demolished in 1833 during the course of renovation work. It seems important to mention in this context that the wooden vestibule directly attached to the tower, as well as the Schünzimmer and the overlying kitchen, all had an open layout in common; all were situated along the axis between the salt mine and the market town of Hallstatt and no transverse interior walls interfered with these spatial relationships and their horizontal dynamic.

20th Century
An arbour was added in the southwest corner of the annex in 1903, but it was not preserved. Its design reflected the rustic style of the bourgeois pastime of taking summer holidays, which was popular in that period, featuring cut planks near the parapet and large areas of glass installed in its mullioned structure. The structural interventions on the Rudolfsturm that were carried out between 1910-1955 are illustrated in the description of the building complex written by the Hallstatt salt mine administration in 1908.

In 1954, the Rudolfsturm lost its designation as the mine manager’s headquarters – and thereby its function as an administrative building – when the salt mine’s administrative operations were transferred to the former hospital near the mouth of the mine gallery during a company conversion.

The subsequent conversion of the Rudolfsturm into a restaurant preserved the utility value of the property and guarantees its continued existence. The tourism boom in the 1960s necessitated an expansion of the available space, which was accomplished through the additional construction of a "hall" directly adjacent to the northeast side of the tower. Typical of this period, this annex was equipped with large windows on three sides, and the two doors aligned with the structure’s axis unpretentiously integrate a passing-through motif – the link between the salt mines and the market. Snow pressure caused this addition to collapse in 2006 and its remnants were razed. The Rudolfsturm was renovated for the 2008 Upper Austrian Regional Exhibition and supplemented with an extra annex on the side facing the mountain.