Two themes shape the chequered history of the town: the famous Gmunden pottery and the rise of Gmunden as a health resort in the 19th century.
In the beginning however, it is salt that determines its development. Lying favourably at the mouth of the Traun, Gmunden becomes a transhipment point for the salt trade in the Early Middle Ages. In the mid-13th century a town wall, towers and 20 metre wide moat are added to the town. The lake-facing part of Gmunden is also protected; thick wooden poles are driven into the lake bed in a semicircle. As you can see in the image above, a gate can be found in the centre of the wooden rampart for the salt ships to pass in and out.
In 1278 the Hapsburgs grant Gmunden municipal law; from the mid-14th century the town judge is the municipal leader. But the salt trade is controlled by the salt official, appointed directly by the Landesfürst or territorial prince to manage the entire Kammergut or sovereign estates.
But in addition to salt, Gmunden’s famous, green-fired pottery represents an important trading commodity from the Early Modern Age onwards. At the end of the 16th century there are already seven master potters in Gmunden.
As the importance of the salt trade diminishes with the dawn of the 19th century, Gmunden proves resourceful and taps a new market by transforming itself into a health resort. Its rivalry with Bad Ischl, the official summer residence of Emperor Franz Joseph I from 1849, is still spoken of today.