Salzburg: Hohensalzburg Fortress

Posted by

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.


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

DSC_0838 3
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.
IMG_8086 4
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!
DSC_0563 2
Century-old walls and door, although this bench is obviously just a few years old 🙂
DSC_0593 2
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.
DSC_0718 3
There were good views of the city anywhere in the castle and so we made several stops to enjoy them.
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 🙂
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.
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’.
DSC_0634 2
Benjamin took notice of the small windows and the exceptionally thick walls of the castle.
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.
DSC_0700 2
There is a 360-degree view of the city in the castle.  This was facing the Old and New towns and the Salzach River.
DSC_0568 3
This one was facing the Austrian Alps.
DSC_0585 2
I’m not particularly sure about this one but they looked like private apartments.
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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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 🙂

DSC_0874 2
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.
DSC_0503 2
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:

  3. – 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
  9. Salzburg: Hohensalzburg Fortress 
  10. Salzburg: Residenzplatz Christmas Market
  11. Salzburg: Salzburg Cathedral
  12. Salzburg: Silent Night 200 at Salzburg Museum
  13. Salzburg: Silent Night Tour by Bob’s Special Tour
  14. Salzburg: Silent Night at Oberndorf and Laufen
  15. Salzkammergut: Road Trip to Hallstatt
  16. Salzkammergut: Christmas Market at St Wolfgang
  17. Salzburg: Krampus Run at Hellbrunn Palace
  18. Salzburg: Imlauer Hotel Pitter Salzburg
  19. Obergurgl: A Week in the Austrian Alps
  20. Obergurgl: Chalet Obergurgl Luxury Apartments
  21. Obergurgl: Hohe Mut Alm Mountain Restaurant
  22. Obergurgl: Snowstorm on Christmas Eve
  23. Obergurgl: Day After the Storm
  24. Obergurgl: Snowshoeing
  25. Hochgurgl: Tobogganing
  26. Hochgurgl: Hochgurgl Cable Car Ride
  27. Vienna: First Impressions
  28. Vienna: Hofburgkapelle and Imperial Armoury
  29. Vienna: Schönbrunn Palace
  30. Vienna: Imperial Treasury and Hofburg
  31. Vienna: Prater
  32. Vienna: New Year’s Eve Fireworks and Waltz
  33. Vienna: Hilton Vienna Plaza
  34. Stuttgart: The Mercedes-Benz Museum
  35. Stuttgart: The Porsche Museum


      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

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s