Bad Ischl is a spa town in Austria. It lies in the southern part of Upper Austria, at the Traun River in the centre of the Salzkammergut region. The town consists of the Katastralgemeinden Ahorn, Bad Ischl, Haiden, Jainzen, Kaltenbach, Lauffen, Lindau, Pfandl, Perneck, Reiterndorf and Rettenbach.
When in the early 19th century the brine came into use for medical purposes, Ischl soon became a fashionable spa resort with notable guests like Prince Klemens Wenzel von Metternich and Archduke Franz Karl of Austria. The Hotel Post opened in 1828 was the first one in the whole Salzkammergut area. In 1849 Franz Karl's son, Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria chose the town for his summer residence.
On August 19, 1853 the engagement between Franz Joseph and Elisabeth of Bavaria (Sisi) took place at the Seeauerhaus, Esplanade No. 10, which since 1989 has been the location of the Museum der Stadt Bad Ischl.
In 1854, the Emperor's mother, Archduchess Sophie, gave him the Kaiservilla (Imperial Villa) as a wedding present. The villa became the imperial family's summer residence; Franz Joseph described it as "Heaven on Earth" . He also granted a nearby mansion to mistress Katharina Schratt, that could be easily reached via a hidden footpath. In the Kaiservilla Franz Joseph on 28 July 1914 signed the declaration of war against the Kingdom of Serbia, signalling the start of World War I. He left Bad Ischl on the next day and never returned. To this day, the villa is still an estate of the Habsburg-Lorraine family, although the grounds and parts of the residence are open to the public.
Besides the Kaiservilla, the city offers several health spas and tourist attractions like the historic Kongresshaus opened in 1875, the new Kurhaus built by Clemens Holzmeister in 1932 as well as the former residence of Franz Lehár, that he acquired in 1912 and today serves as a museum. The Saint Nicholas parish church was first mentioned in a 1344 deed.
A gondola lift runs from the town up to the Katrin alpine pasture at 1415m (4643ft) which offers a panoramic view of the Salzkammergut mountains. The ruins of Wildenstein Castle, that burnt down in 1715, are nearby.