“ Europe's biggest fortification dating back to the 11th century offers the ideal setting for celebrations and all kinds of events. „
I visited Austria in January 2007 and while I was there, I visited the Salzburg Fortress.
The Hohensalzburg Fortress is situated on Mountain of Hohensalzburg and the fortress looms over the City and you can really see how prominent it is if you sit in the Cathedral Square below and look up at it. It can literally be seen from most parts of the town.
The fortress can be accessed by the cable car system. However, on the day we visited the fortress, the cable car was not in operation. This posed no problems for myself or my girlfriend but I have to admit that it was a fair trek up some steep hills and stairs to reach the entrance of the fortress. I am not sure if the cable car works on a seasonal basis (season being May - October) so any disabled or elderly people would have problems negotiating the route. Saying that, even if the cable car were in action, there are still some extremely steep hills to climb up once inside the fortress which was tiring out even the fittest people.
History of the Castle
The first record of this fortress being erected dates back to the Roman times. By its location this would make very good sense as you can see the whole area around Salzburg and the Salzach River very well so any invaders would be spotted quickly.
The first documented Castle to be built on the Mountain was between the years of 1060 and 1088 but this was little more than a Bailey with a wooden wall.
The main four towers were added between the years 1461 and 1466 and also the outer wall as it can be seen today.
Continuous building additions were carried out over the following centuries, but the castle took its shape as we see it today during the years of 1495 to 1519 as the Prince of the time wanted it to be more of a Castle of representation of his rule and not for the military purpose it had served in previous centuries.
We had the pleasure of our hotel notifying us of the 'Salzburg card' which we purchased for a fee of 36 euros (this covered a 72 hour period). This card enables you to gain entry to the Fortress for free (and also use of the cable cars when in operation), The Salzburg card also allows you to use the very efficient tram system Salzburg has in place, free of charge so if your staying away from the main city, this card can also be used for free transfers to the main town where the Fortress is located.
The cost without the Salzburg card is 10 euros for adults and 5.70 euros for children, so I would recommend getting the Salzburg card as this can be used at many other attractions throughout the City. The cable car prices are between 3.60 euros and 5 euros should it be in operation.
Between October and April the Fortress is open between 9.30am - 17.00. In May, June and September it opens between 9.00am and 18.00. Then in July and August the opening hours are 09.00am - 19.00. Last entrance for the inside of the fortress is 30minutes before closing time.
What To Do And See When You Get There
When you have either made the steep climb by foot or manage (unlike us) to get the cable car to the summit, you arrive at the old drawbridge which has the ticket booth for paying.
After paying you take a very steep hill to the courtyard area where we turned left onto a balcony section (for want of a better word) from here you can see for miles around and really enjoy the view of the City and the Mountains further out on the horizon. I would definitely recommend people to take a camera as you can get some stunning pictures. We stayed here for a little time and took some really nice photos. We then climbed another hill to the tour area. This is situated inside the building on the North side of the Castle and it is an Audio tour. We never really felt like doing this personally so I'm afraid I can't pass on a lot of information or feedback on this apart from that fact the tour takes you 30minutes and they run every 40 minutes.
We entered the State rooms inside the main central keep and this had many rooms and a lovely ceiling with hundreds of Gold leafed bosses which indicated the stars in the night sky! There are lots of information boards throughout the fortress which explain certain aspects of the building work and why it was designed in that way. The boards covered several languages; English included which was very helpful. I found it interesting to learn about the history of the design as there were many ornamental features which without the information boards you possibly would have missed.
There is a Marionette Museum, where you can view some very old Marionettes and you are able to read a brief history about it. For anyone who is unsure what a Marionette is, it is basically the 1st 'puppets' to be created. This consisted of a small theatre room where old 'puppets' were on show to look at and a brief history of the creator.
All these attractions / Museums are included in the entry price and are very educational. Although we didn't visit the very top tower which houses a military museum.
There are 2 restaurants within the castle and although we never ate or purchased a drink they did seem reasonably priced and had an array of food from snacks to sweet items. There is also a gift shop which we looked around, this sold the usual souveneirs; trinkets, feathered pens, magnets to name a few as well as bottles of drinks and chocolate bars.
I'd highly recommend this as a must see place to visit as we spend four hours here and found it very educational. The views were outstanding; you can see the whole of the city as well as mountains in the distance. It's quite literally a 'bird's eye' view of the City. The admission fees are very reasonable even without the use of the Salzburg Card. My only annoyance was that they did not provide a better access route for those people less able bodied or families with young children.
Europe's biggest fortification dating back to the 11th century offers the ideal setting for celebrations and all kinds of events.