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Hall in Tyrol – The Mint

Date of Submission: 01/02/2013
Criteria: (i)(ii)(iv)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
The Federal Ministry for Education, Arts and Culture
State, Province or Region:
Coordinates: N47° 17’, E11° 30’
Ref.: 5801

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Hall in Tyrol is a town with some 13.000 habitants ten kilometres east of Innsbruck, the capital of Tyrol. Three important cornerstones contributed to the wealth of the city: salt production, trading point for navigation on the Inn-river and the Sovereign's Mint.

The historic centre, which remained to an extraordinary high extent intact, represents an example of medieval town-planning and urban development. Buildings dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries form a unique ensemble in late gothic style. The former riches are illustrated by the preserved secular and ecclesiastical building substance. The town-centre is surrounded by the town-wall, whose remains are still visible in the northern part of the centre. Special features of the old town are the topographically separate entities of an upper and a lower town, each having its own town square.

In 1232 Hall was mentioned for the first time. Already in 1256 reference was made to the production of salt. Thanks to its economic importance in 1286 Hall was granted the right to hold a market, in 1303 it has received the municipal law. During the following centuries the salt mines in the neighbouring valley Halltal made Hall the central trading-town in Tyrol and outdid even Innsbruck.

The river Inn contributed to the successful economic development as well: In 1300 a bridge was built; in 1313 the citizens were granted the right to do cargo-shipping on the river. Since 1315 through the help of a wooden rake, rafted logs were taken out from the river. The logs were used to heat the saline. The privileged position of Hall can be demonstrated through the right of the town, that all goods which were transported on the river had to be offered at the market (The Inn east of Hall was navigable, whereas the river upstream in direction to Innsbruck was difficult for shipping.) Although in 1447 a big fire destroyed the upper part of the town-centre and in 1670 an earthquake caused serious damages in the centre, during the15th and 16th centuries Hall was among the most important municipalities of the Habsburg Empire.

The importance of Hall is demonstrated by a well-structured town shape and a rich architecture. The historic centre is encircled by a defence-wall. The centre itself is divided in an upper- and a lower town with its town squares. The medieval fabric, covering Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque epochs, is still intact. Among the most important monuments are the parish church Saint Nikolas in Gothic style and the town hall from 1338 at the upper town square. At the monastery square (Stiftsplatz) the facade of the monastery church (Stiftskirche) contains elements in Renaissance-style. The nearby building Sparberegg housed, between 1477 and 1566, the Mint before it was transferred to the Castle Hasegg. The former monastery of the Jesuits is now used as district court. Its church (Jesuitenkirche / Allerheiligenkirche) represents the first Baroque church in the northern part of Tyrol. The Castle Hasegg dates back to the 15th century, in 1566 the Mint was installed in a separate wing. The Castle houses today the coin-museum with some reproduced rolling-mills. The tower, Münzerturm, which contributes characteristically to the town shape of Hall, can be accessed by the visitors and offers a great panorama-view over the town to the surrounding mountains. The painting Last Judgement dating back to 1418 in the small Salvador-church belongs to the few examples of high-gothic paintings in the northern part of Tyrol.

The Mint contributed to Hall's international importance and outstanding reputation: In 1477 Archduke Sigmund of Tyrol ordered the transfer of the Mint from Meran to Hall. His decision was influenced on the one hand by the defence wall around the town-centre which assured appropriate protection for the Mint and on the other hand by the nearby silver-mines in Schwaz, which provided silver for minting. In 1486 the first high-quality silver-coin, the Taler, was produced there. In the 16th century technical innovations assured to maintain the exceptional reputation of the Mint. For the first time in 1567 the roller-press coinage was introduced for regular use and replaced the minting by hammer. The new technology was exported via the Segovia Mint in Spain (which formed part of the Habsburg Empire) overseas to South America. However, beside these technical aspects, the Mint in Hall exerted world- wide influence through the "Great Coinage Reform" with its Taler on the currency-systems and consequently on the national economies. In 1809 the installations of the Mint were dismantled and partly moved to Munich.

1975 the Mint was re-opened with the minting of 100-Schilling-coins on the occasion of the Winter Olympic Games in Innsbruck 1976. Since then 100- and 500-Schilling coins were produced. A limited edition of the Guldiner from 1486 was minted in 2001 on the occasion of the introduction of the Euro. Since 2003, with the opening of the Mint-museum in the Castle of Hasegg, the production-procedure of minting can be shown to visitors exemplified by reproduced rolling-mills.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

The Mint in Hall is an outstanding example of global technology-transfer and of an innovation which almost revolutionised global economy. Around 1550 a new technology to produce coins, the "roller-press coinage" began to spread around from Augsburg. However, the traditionally conservative-minded workers in the mints refused to take over this new technology and continued to produce coins by using the traditional minting by hammer (their denial was caused by the fear to lose the job and / or income as the new machines required less staff). Only in Hall the system of roller-press coinage was well accepted. In 1567 in the Castle of Hasegg the rolling-mills were installed. Their successful performance paved the way to their global-wide known repudiation. The new technique was able to produce ten-times faster than the old way; however, it required only half of the staff! The innovative introduction of a new coinage-technology has to be understood as a highly complex undertaking at that time. According to G. Murray (in: TICCIH-Bulletin, no. 27 / winter 2004) "during the 16th century, the manufacturing methods employed at advanced mints could be considered the most complex industrial process in practise. Contrary to other more artisan-like industries such as paper, glass, textile, metallurgy, etc. the minting process required a diversified and highly specialised team of experts, with not one person being able to produce the final product single-handedly. What's more, precise product specifications and the exact methodology to be used were exclusive privileges of governments to issue and enforce."

Consequently, in Hall not only coins were produced, but also the machines, foreseen for their export to Europe and South America, were partly pre-fabricated. As a result, Hall was confronted with different aspects of this technology transfer: On the one hand, Hall was able to sell successfully not only machines, but also the whole new concept, which revolutionised the technique of coin-production. Moreover, the new technology served also as political instrument: The mint in Segovia received the rolling-mills and other equipment as gift for the Spanish King from his cousin, Archduke Ferdinand from Tyrol. "The convoy which brought the machinery to Spain in 1584 during an arduous 8-month endeavour, is thought to represent the most significant transfer of complex industrial technology ever undertaken up until then." (G. Murray, in: TICCIH-Bulletin, no. 27 / winter 2004) On the other hand, as the Mint of Hall sent its staff to the mint in Segovia, Spain and opened a branch in Enzisheim (Alsace), soon it suffered from brain drain. Hall was the first and for certain time the only Mint, which used the "roller-press coinage".

Apart from these aspects, which are closely related to technical issues, the outstanding repudiation of the Mint of Hall as most important mint of Europe goes back also to the "Great Coinage Reform": The system of coins with its Taler, which was introduced in Hall, became the dominating currency system in Europe and in its colonies. It can be stated, that in the Mint of Hall the epoch of currency in the Modern Period was initiated.

Criteria Considered to be met

Criterion (i): The Mint of Hall in Tyrol bears witness of an exceptional technical innovation, the roller press-coinage. Thanks to this new technology, which was in the Mint of Hall in Tyrol for the first time successfully implemented on a large scale, the production of coins was revolutionised, which influenced - in connection with the "Great Coinage Reform" - global economy in a sustainable dimension.

Criterion (ii): The Mint of Hall in Tyrol with the outstanding example of a new technology, the roller press- coinage, initiated the most significant technology-transfer of complex industrial technology ever undertaken up until then. Furthermore, the introduction of the Taler within the "Great Coinage Reform" not only changed substantially the currency system in Europe and in its colonies, but also represents the beginning of a new epoch of currency in the Modern Period.

Criterion (iv): Hall in Tyrol with its town-centre represents an outstanding example of medieval town- planning covering Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque styles, which impressively demonstrate the former importance of the town as a centre for salt production, navigation on the Inn-river and as seat of the Sovereign's Mint. The former status of the town as economic centre is illustrated by a rich medieval secular and ecclesiastical architecture, which is preserved in its original fabric until today and enjoys highest protection standards.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

The town-centre of Hall as well as the Mint in the Castle Hasegg is kept in their original pattern and was cautiously restored. The comprehensive preserved buildings allow witnessing the historic importance of the site and demonstrate impressively that the authenticity has been kept.

Untold paintings, drawings and photos of the town dating back to past centuries show details of the various phases of its development. However, in all these cases the typical and still visible ensemble of upper- and lower town with the Castle of Hasegg in the foreground remains intact.

The Mint itself is situated at its original location in the Castle. The original fabric of the buildings, a high number of historic documents, preserved embossing stamps and an important collection of coins originating from between the 15th and 19th centuries demonstrate impressively the historic importance of the Mint.


As expressed in the German name "Hall", since its foundation in the Middle Ages the City of Hall was closely linked with the extraction of salt. Trade and shipping on the river Inn contributed to wealth. Already in the 14th century Hall reached the size of the present city- centre. The Mint, which was transferred in 1477 from Meran to Hall and the coinage reform, which was launched in Hall and influenced all European economies, contributed to Hall's international important position.

The medieval defence wall and the former water moat surround the historic city-centre, which is still remarkably preserved. This densely-built area with its historic fabric stands in contrast to the more recent settlement outside of the wall with its more widely-built structure. With its numerous well-preserved profane and sacral buildings it bears witness of the former prosperity and international importance of the town. The original town-setting with its streets, squares, residential- and working areas located in the upper- and lower town (including the in the southern part of the City situated Castle of Hasegg with the Mint) is preserved in its original, historic structure and is clearly visible. However, also in every building the town's history dating from the historic Romanesque foundations with its later Gothic and Baroque construction-phases is clearly visible and can be experienced in a comprehensive way.

Luckily during both World Wars in the 20th century the town-centre was not damaged. During the following decades due to the bad economic situation, adverse impacts on the structure did not occur. In the middle of the 1970s gentle restoration-campaigns were launched. Today, Hall enjoys not only efficient protection, as the entire city-centre falls under the township- and monuments-protection regimes (the latter one represents the highest protection-category for monuments in Austria), but also it serves nation-wide as an outstanding example for the preservation and restoration of the built structure in accordance with the principles of monuments protection (Austrian State Award for Monument Preservation 1994).

Comparison with other similar properties

The Mint of Hall was the most important mint at the end of the Middle Ages and during Early Modern Period. Its global importance goes back not only the "roller-press coinage"-system, which changed sustainably the production of coins, but also to the "Great Coinage Reform". The reform facilitated substantially the Central European payment system: Through issuing of large silver-coins, new - higher - nominal values were created. Since 1482 coins equivalent to 6, 12 (Pfundner), 30 and 60 Kreuzer were issued. Especially the coin of 6 Kreuzer became widely accepted and also put into circulation by other mints. Most important, however, became the Guldengroschen, which was minted in Hall in 1486. It had an equivalent denomination value in silver relative to that of the Goldgulden, which was equivalent to 60 Kreuzer. The Guldiner, how the Goldgulden was nicknamed, became very popular, when large silver-quantities became available in Bohemia, Saxony and Spain. The mint Joachimstal in Bohemia produced high quantities of Joachimstal Guldiner, which soon were called Joachims-Taler. Its later name Taler became very popular. The Taler, originally invented in Hall, remained for 300 years until the 19th century, the European anchor currency (Leitwährung). After 1540 simply called Taler, it became a model for other currencies like Dollar, tolar, tallero and daalder.

As mentioned before, the origin of the "roller-press coinage"-technique was Augsburg. However, only in Hall the new technology could be installed on a permanent basis and successfully implemented. Therefore, only in Hall an innovative method to produce more efficiently and with better quality got a chance to revolutionise finally the currency system. There are already some properties in the World Heritage List, which include mints as well. Sites like the City of Potosi (Bolivia), Historic Centre of Zacatecas (Mexico) and Old Town of Segovia and its Aqueduct (Spain) refer to mints which contributed to their wealth and importance. However, thanks to its successful implementation in the Mint of Hall a highly efficient and sustainable technology received global-wide recognition and laid foundation for the prosperity of other mints in Europe and overseas. This extraordinary example of a ground- breaking technology-transfer together with an innovative currency-reform which includes the invention of the Taler will form the Outstanding Universal Value of Hall in Tyrol - The Mint.