These days, there are about 9,700 inhabitants living in Zell am See. Now, it is a picturesque small town in the middle of Pinzgau. Less than 100 years ago, though, it was not even called a town proper. It was only on 24th January 1928 that Zell am See, which used to be called a „market place“, was elevated to being named a town. However, its metamorphosis into one of Austria's most popular holiday destinations had already begun in the 19th century.
„Gisela“ was responsible for this quick career: Gisela was the name of the train which was launched on 3rd July 1875 and connected Zell to the entire region. This hook-up to the public transport system triggered fast changes of in the community. Prior to that point in time, it had been a rather sleepy place. It did start to blossom as tourism began to grow. Now it is hard to imagine that the settlement, which was once called „Cella in Bisonzio“ and founded by monks around 740 AD, had only served as a trans-shipment place for salt and wine.
The town was situated centrally at the bridle path across „Hochtor“ pass. Nowadays, that route is better known by its new name, „Grossglocknerstrasse“. Zell's location was one of the reasons that it became significant economically, which is still the case today - thanks to millions of holidaymakers from all over the world. It was for them that the first skiing club was founded in 1906, followed, in 1959, by the opening of the first Alpine „Segelflugschule“, a school for fans of gliding. The school still serves as start point for those who want to take off into the clear air. Zell am See has, after all, been a climatic health spa resort since 1961.
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