Hohensalzburg Fortress is Europe’s Largest Intact Fortress:
Dominating the skyline of Salzburg is Hohensalzburg Fortress (Festung Hohensalzburg in German), one of the major the landmarks of Salzburg. Standing gloriously on top of Festungsberg, Hohensalzburg Fortress is also Central Europe’s largest intact fortress – 250 metres long and 150 metres wide.
Hohensalzburg Fortress was built in 1077 by Archbishop Gebhard and it was considerably enlarged by Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach (1495-1519). The symbol of the fortress is the lion holding the beetroot in its paws. The Archbishops were powerful political figures at that time and the fortress expansion was to protect their interests.
A Fortress, Military Barracks & Prison
Having served as a fortification and temporary residence of the prince archbishops for many years, the fortress also served as military barracks and a prison. Prince Archbishop Wolf Dietrich was held captive in the fortress for five years by his nephew and successor (Markus Sittikus) up to his death in 1617.
During its long history the Hohensalzburg Fortress had only come under siege once, when a group of miners, farmers and townspeople tried to oust the Prince Archbishop Cardinal Lang. They did not succeed and the castle remained unconquered by enemy troops. During the Napoleonic Wars it was surrendered without a fight.
The Best Views of Salzburg
One of the best views of Salzburg is from Hohensalzburg Fortress. Since 1892 the fortress has been reachable by funicular railway. These days the Festungsbahn departs from Festungsgasse every 10 minutes. The Salzburg Card gives you free access to the Fortress funicular as well as entry to Hohensalzburg Fortress.
For the more energetic, you can walk up to the castle and this takes about 30 minutes. But it’s not just a case of expending energy, there are interesting things to see on the walk up. Once at the top of the Fortress, the medieval princes’ apartments and the Fortress Museum are of particular interest. The views of Salzburg old town, the Salzbach River and the surrounding areas are stunning from up here.
Today the fortress is one of Salzburg’s major tourist attractions and is open to the public all year round. Artists from around the world meet here for music courses at the International Summer Academy. Hohensalzburg’s medieval rooms, its romantic courtyard and the bastions are regularly used for events like the Fortress Concerts.
See what’s on at the Fortress and you can also book concert tickets here.>