The history of Abtenau begins when the Bavarians settled in the area in the 6th century AD and it was Christianised by St Rupert in around the year 700.
The name “Abtenau” refers to the entire upper Lammertal valley, including the villages of Abtenau, Annaberg and Russbach found today. The settlement across the extensive wooded valleys was in full swing in around 1100 AD.
In the year 1124, Archbishop Conrad I gave a gift of a few plots of land and the left bank of the river Lammer to St Peter’s Abbey in Salzburg, whilst he kept the right riverbank for himself. To this day, St Peter’s Abbey still owns the forest and agricultural areas in Lammertal.
The first church in Abtenau was built in the second half of the 12th century by Archbishop Conrad III.
In around 1350, the settlement was fairly completed. Around 3000 people must have lived in Abtenau. In the economic conditions of the time, there would not have been space for any more than that. In those days, they already had a “High Royal Land and Urbarial Court” which also managed the archiepiscopal property. St Peter had set up a parent parish in his area. This is where the preconditions for the main site of Abtenau were set.
Abtenau evolved into the rural, economic hub of Lammertal and was declared an official market town by Archbishop Leonhardt von Keutschach in 1507, thus receiving the right to hold a market and have civil liberties such as buying, selling, trade and industry, as well as the right to hold an annual market every year on Maximilian’s Day. The peasants residing in their individual farms were sorted into “Rieden” (fields) and “Rotten” (hamlets). The farmers and the inhabitants of the market town were almost all ruled under a manorial system, the predominant ones being St Peter and the Archbishop’s land ownership register.
In the Peasants’ Revolt of 1525/26, Abtenau only played a minor role. In this century, the town also had its own courthouse constructed. The taxes paid to the land owners consisted mainly of “cheese, concentrated butter and grain.” Tithes went to church.
In around 1600, the first school in Abtenau was founded by St Peter on a private basis, using school fees and support from land owners, and, as everywhere else, its origins were in reading holy scripts and – after the Council of Trent – catechism.
In 1803, the religious Principality of Salzburg was abolished.
In 1809, Abtenau was included in the military operations of the Napoleonic wars.
In 1816, the rest of the land in Salzburg, including Abtenau, became part of Austria.
In 1848, the manorial systems were abolished (Liberation of Peasants), the villages of Abtenau and Annaberg became part of the judicial district – it was the beginning of a new era.
In those days, business enterprises included several beer and wine taverns which were situated opposite the church district. This layout remains the same to this day. On one side of the market square there is the church, parsonage and cemetery, and diagonally opposite are five guest houses.
On 1 August 1850, a post office was set up in Abtenau with mail coaches.
After the second world war, tourism began to develop with the arrival of summer holiday resorts, and with the evolution of alpine skiing, the winter season also became more important later on.
Today, with around 6000 inhabitants, Abtenau is the biggest village in the Lammertal Valley (187 km²). It has retained its rustic, down-to-earth character, making it very popular with holidaymakers.