Where the fires keep burning

Traditions on Eisenstraße: Erich Helm has forged the world's smallest forging tongs in the world – a best-seller at the Ybbsitz Blacksmith Christmas market.

In Ybbsitz, once the centre of the iron forging industry, the traditional craft of blacksmithing is still alive and celebrated, from the huge traditional festival at Christmas to creating the smallest forging tongs in the world.

Erich Helm from Ybbsitz forged the smallest functional forging tongs in the world – they are a big as a fingernail and listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. A badge featuring the mini tongs have become best-sellers at the Ybbsitz Blacksmith Christmas market, an event celebrating the blacksmith culture.

Iron tradition 

It is no surprise Ybbsitz adopted the forging tradition or that there is an annual Christmas market characterised by fire and iron. The town in Mostviertel, which today is part of the Mostviertler Eisenstraße association, was once the centre of Austria's iron industry. In 1572 you could count 33 pick, 22 cabbage knife, eight drawknife, five spoon and four scythe forgeries.

Blacksmith for life

Erich Helm has become part of this historic tradition. He has been forging tools in Ybbsitz for almost 46 years. Even today, the pensioner works at his anvil during the Blacksmith Christmas market because, as he says, “When I see fire and hammers, my heart starts to race and I am back to being a blacksmith!”

Ybbsitz Forging Mile