Nov 26, 2012

Hohensalzburg Fortress, Salzburg, Austria

The Hohensalzburg Fortress towers 400' above the Salzach River, above the old town of Salzburg, Austria, the only part of Salzburg to survive World War II.  The old town is an enchanted place to visit, rent a bike and explore every little crevice.  The fortress is one of the best preserved in Europe and well worth a half day's visit.  A funicular makes it easy-access for everyone and there is a cafe' at the top so every tourist can be comfortable.

Brief history:  The area of today's Salzburg had been .....
part of the Celtic Kingdom Noricum for five centuries BC.  At 15 BC it was annexed to the Roman Empire under Augustus.  Around 50 A.D. under Claudius, the area had grown to about 5,000 residents -- local Celts and Roman citizens.  Around 170 AD, the area was destroyed by the Marcomannic Wars and a severe epidemic.  It was several centuries before the area was re-established and a small fort built where the fortress currently stands.   The city was gradually abandoned and it's fate not documented for many centuries.

Building the fortress began in 1077 and ended between the 12th and 13th centuries.  It was never used in battle and was fearsome enough to prevent attack for over 1,000 years.

When you tour today, you can see the stout cannons, walk across the self-sufficient courtyard square and take your picture by the original well.  Walk around the original defense towers - over 900 years old - and try to imagine what life was like back then.

The view of Salzburg from the ramparts is phenomenal.

When you leave the castle, use the second half of your day to walk down, it's not a difficult walk, just a long one.

Take the path from the castle across the Monchsberg Hill and you'll see a lot more history, a little bit of Sound of Music scenery, and some more unbeatable views.

Somewhere in its history, Salzburg's economy depended on the salt mines - hence the Salt Fortress, Salt River, etc.  The salt was shipped down the river to the Danube.  In the 13th century, the canal system was built to bring in water. Mills were then built up and the economy took a giant leap and today you can use the Medieval tow paths along the canal for biking.  There are several self-automated bike stands across Salzburg.  You can swipe your credit card and either pick-up a bike or return it.  Very easy.

My previous posts on Salzburg:

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