Local Culture Salzburg

Legends of Untersberg

There are a lot of legends and fairy tales surrounding Untersberg, the mythic mountain in Austria. Many of them refer to ancestral creatures – the dwarfs, small people with magical powers, the time-traveling phenomenon, and legendary emperors. I read some of them during my trip to Salzburg, trying to find out what this legendary mountain hides and why it was so important also for Dalai Lama, who called it “the sleeping dragon”.

Emperor Karl the Great

According to the legend, Emperor Karl the Great used to sleep in Untersberg. He sits on the mountain, with his knights and dwarfs, at a marble table, around which his white beard grows. His image has engraved itself in the mountain and is visible from afar.

One day, when his beard has rounded the table three times and when the ravens no more encircle the mountain, when the withered pear tree of Walserfeld again sprouts, the great emperor will leave the mountain and will destroy all the evil of the world in the Battle of Walserfeld.

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Dwarfs treasure

Dwarfs guard the colossal treasure in Untersberg. Every seven years, this treasure comes forward, appearing as a golden peak or a golden spring, and helps a good person to wealth. Many have already entered Emperor Karl’s kingdom through a gate in the mountain, escorted by dwarfs and gnomes. Strange noises resound upwards out of the caves. Emperors and scholars, craftsmen, and peasants live there together in peace and piety. These visitors to the mountain have returned home, often a whole generation later, healthy and prosperous. Even today, wanderers and mountain climbers have been said to disappear.

The women in the woods

Beautiful wild women with waving locks dressed in white gowns live in the woods and meadows of the mountain. They help peasants and woodcutters with their work, tend the injured with secret herbs, and bring people that have gone astray back on safe ways. The wild women love humans in their own way, and therefore they have kidnapped children of the poor and raised them princely in the mountain. They also fall in love with handsome young men and marry them, becoming human women.

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