The Stiftsarmstollen is one of the oldest still operational subterranean aqueducts in Central Europe. In autumn, at about the time when cattle are returning to the valley from their alpine grazing grounds for the winter, this unique example of hydraulic engineering is even open for guided tours.
The history of the Almkanal in Salzburg goes back to the Middle Ages. Back in those days, St. Peter’s Abbey and the Salzburg archbishopric were the biggest, most powerful land owners, and they needed a plentiful water supply for their agricultural lands. With that in mind, they commissioned an engineer by the name of Albert to cut a channel through the Mönchsberg in order to access the vast natural water reserves in the area of Leopoldskron.
The Almkanal today
The channel was completed in 1142 and is still regarded as one of the most unique building projects in the city’s history. Nowadays, the 370 meters-long, as much as 1.2 m wide and 2.2 m high Stiftsarmstollen is mostly used for keeping the city streets clean and cooling the Grosses Festspielhaus.
Three weeks out of the year, at the beginning of autumn, this underground canal is drained and opened to the general public, while the necessary maintenance work is performed. Expert guides share fascinating insights into the technological and historical background of this aqueduct.