Salzburg: Hohensalzburg Fortress

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Not Ed Sheeran’s Castle on the Hill

Hohensalzburg Fortress is a 900-year-old fortified castle that sits on Festungsberg, a small hill in the Old Town of Salzburg.  Our family is easily fascinated by history and so visiting this castle on the hill was first on our Salzburg’s itinerary.

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The fortress was built in the 11th century mainly as a show of political and religious power of the Catholic Church.   Salzburg at that time was a state independent from Vienna and Bavaria and ruled by prince-archbishops (I think of them as hybrid king and pope, although not quite as powerful as either one).

The fortress was intended to protect the prince-archbishops’ interests although they did not really spend much of their time there but at their quarters at the Residenz.  The fortress was also never attacked and was wisely surrendered during the Napoleonic War in the 1800s.  It has become Salzburg’s emblem and is one of the best-preserved and one of the largest medieval castles in Europe…

Enjoy the pictures and video clips below, some juicy trivia and a few tips from our family. 🙂DSC_0591 3

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We took the Festungbahn, a 1-minute funicular ride from the town centre  (see video).  The base of the funicular was only a few meters away from Residenzplatz.
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First order of business on the hill was to have lunch @ Panoramarestaurant zur Festung Hohensalzburg. Had pork schnitzel, beef goulash and bolognese. This resto has a good view of the city in case you can’t stand the biting cold outside.  More importantly, the food here was good!
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Century-old walls and door, although this bench is obviously just a few years old 🙂
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Here’s Joaquin walking around the complex.  He’s one who’s easily fascinated by historical trivia and at this point by the castle’s ingenious masonry.
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There were good views of the city anywhere in the castle and so we made several stops to enjoy them.
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The 3 hours that we spent in the castle wasn’t enough though to go around every viewable room and museum.  We stopped and rested too many times I suppose, but it’s okay 🙂
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Organized tours were available (we emailed ahead to inquire) but we opted for a self-guided audio tour since we could not commit to a specific time.  When we bought tickets to the funicular, we actually got a Family Basic Ticket which included the funicular rides, audio tour guide, castle museum, Reiner Regiment museum and Puppet Museum.
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Several prince-archbishops ruled Salzburg over the centuries but the most notable was Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau (1559-1612).  He was the one who had the vision of promoting Baroque architecture in Salzburg, making the city especially the Old Town, a charming mini ‘Italy of the North’.
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Benjamin took notice of the small windows and the exceptionally thick walls of the castle.
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Joaquin was trying out the handcuffs here.  It’s ironic that the same fortress erected to protect the prince-archbishops would be the same place some of them would meet their fate. Prince-archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau was tortured and imprisoned here for 7 years by his nephew and successor, Mark Sittich von Hohenems.
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There is a 360-degree view of the city in the castle.  This was facing the Old and New towns and the Salzach River.
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This one was facing the Austrian Alps.
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I’m not particularly sure about this one but they looked like private apartments.
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There was a small Christmas Market but was closed on the day.   I’m glad we spent a good amount of time walking around the complex despite the chilly wind.

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It was impossible for these three not to inspect the canons.

Anywhere we go, our Joaquin would surely find something to do to amuse himself, like moonwalking on the ice 🙂

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Back in the town (although this picture was taken on a separate day)  was the Makartsteg bridge which holds colourful locks and an even more colourful love story.
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Juicy trivia: And not far from the love locks is the Mirabell Palace (the building beside this garden), which is believed to have been built by prince-archbishop Wolf Dietrich for his lover, Salome.  He had 15 children with Salome.  But of course, we knew that theirs wasn’t a fairy tale with a happy ending.  Salome with her kids fled Salzburg when her prince was captured and imprisoned at the Hohensalzburg Fortress…

Before I end this post, let me share this video of our quick funicular ride from Hohensalzburg back to Residenzplatz.

Useful websites in planning for this attraction:

  1. https://www.salzburg-burgen.at/en/hohensalzburg-castle/
  2. https://www.salzburg.info/en/sights/top10/hohensalzburg-fortress
  3. https://sophiebeau.com/2018/09/14/hohensalzburg-fortress-after-dark/ – Sophie’s stories and pictures gave me so much inspiration. Check her blog out!

Here are the other posts on our Bavaria and Austrian Holiday

  1. Munich: Start of our family’s tales from last winter
  2. Munich: Viktualienmarkt Biergarten
  3. Munich: BMW Museum and BMW Welt
  4. Munich: Theatine Church and Odeonplatz
  5. Munich: Christmas Markets
  6. Munich: Hofbrauhaus Beer Hall
  7. Munich: City Aparthotel München
  8. Salzburg: Birthplace of Mozart and Silent Night

33 comments

      1. Yes I have loved it ever since watching The Sound of Music as a child! I hope to return one day perhaps in the winter to see how magical it could be. Your pictures really made it look very different to the way I saw it!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Facing north from the Hohensalzburg fortress, you’re looking at Untersberg whose summit and ridge are on and along the Austria-Germany border, respectively. It’s easy to forget how close Salzburg is to Berchtesgaden in the southwest corner of Germany, and by extension, how close Salzburg is to Munich. I didn’t enter the grounds of the fortress, but from your pictures, you had a great visit!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, next time you go visit (in non-winter), the bus or car drive from Salzburg is not far or long to Berchtesgaden. Only thing is that the crowds can get massive, queuing to reach the top of The Eagle’s Nest. The view sure is pretty up top though.

        Liked by 1 person

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