The magnificent castle of ‘Hohensalzburg’ dramatically rises above everything surrounding it & dominates the skyline of the Austrian city of Salzburg. The castle is perched atop a small hill called Festungsberg & keeps a keen eye over the city of ‘Salzburg’ that surrounds it. The castle complex is regarded as the largest castle in the Central Europe & one of the best preserved castles in the Europe. The castle was built during the 11th century & throughout its functional period; it was never besieged by the invaders!
The ‘Hohensalzburg’ castle is famous for its opulent princely palaces & a magnificent fortress museum that demonstrates the glory of the Austrian Prince Archbishops. In 2006, the castle was selected as the principal theme for the Austrian Nonnberg Abbey Commemorative Coins, which was the first coin of the series ‘Great Abbeys of Austria’!
How To Get There?:
By Funicular Railway: The funicular railway that runs after every 10 minutes from the Festungsgasse station in the city of ‘Salzburg’ is the best option to reach atop the castle hill. The railway was constructed in 1892 & since then, it has remained one of the major attractions among the visitors.
By Walking: A 30 minute walk from the foothills of the castle is also a good option for those who never mind walking! In fact, the winding road that leads to the castle boasts some of the most amazing panoramic views of the surrounding ‘Salzburg’, which make walking more pleasurable!
What Happened Here In The Past?:
The castle’s construction began in 1077 under the patronage of Archbishop Gebhard von Helfenstein. The archbishops of the ‘Salzburg’ were the influential figures during the Holy Roman Empire. Gebhard’s conflicts with the Emperor Henry IV triggered the expansion of the castle area. The expansion continued for the successive centuries by several archbishops in order to serve their interests.
Prince Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach played a vital role in the expansion of the castle complex during his reign between 1495 & 1519. The fortress was under attack during 1525 German Peasant’s War, when the troops of miners, farmers & civilians made a vain attempt to conquer the castle in order to sack Prince Archbishop Matthaus Lang von Wellenburg.
The castle was further strengthened by the Archbishop Count Paris of Lodron during the Thirty Year’s War. He added additional gatehouses & warehouses for storing the gunpowder. During the Napoleonic War of the Second Coalition in 1800, the castle was surrendered without any battle to the French troops of General Jean Victor Marie Moreau. The castle was then used as barracks, storage house & a prison & later on, after 1861, it was left deserted as a military outpost. The castle went through the major repairing regime in the late 19th century during which, the ‘Festungsbahn Funicular Railway’ was added that became an instant hit among the visitors.
Let’s Explore the Castle!:
The massive castle sits 506 m higher than the surrounding & measures 250 m in length & 150 m in width. The castle complex is adorned with lofty courtyards & princely apartments. The Prince-Bishop’s apartments are located in the wing called as ‘Hoher Stock’ meaning ‘High Floor’! Following are some of the top attractions of the castle complex, you definitely can’t resist exploring!
The magnificent ‘Golden Hall’ was richly decorated & was used as the residence of the Archbishops until the 16th century. ‘Archbishop Leonhard’ laid the foundation of the ‘Golden Hall’ & adorned it by making a rich use of marbles. Four massive marble pillars & coffered ceilings featuring the gold buttons that mimic the stars in the sky are worth admiring. A 17meter long beam flaunts the paintings of the coat of arms of Leonhard von Keutschach, the bishoprics of Salzburg & the Holy Roman Empire.
The huge mechanical organ consisting of more than 200 pipes is located in the ‘Krautturm’ (Powder Tower). The organ was constructed in 1502 by ‘Leonhard’ & was revamped by ‘Rochus Egedacher’ in 1735. The ‘Salzburg Bull’ is played daily from Palm Sunday to 31st October at 7, 11 & 18 o’clock.
The best of all other princely chambers, the ‘Golden Chamber’ features brilliant long benches flanking the room. The benches boast extensive decorations featuring vines, grapes, animals & other decorative shapes. The rich leather material that was used for covering the benches couldn’t last till date along with gilded leather tapestry which was used to cover the lower portion of the wall. The ceiling is adorned with the rich use of artistic materials & the overall effect of the aesthetic charm of the chamber is truly awe-inspiring!
Chapel of Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach:
The chapel features stark yet elegant appearances as compared to the rest of the princely chambers. The ceiling is adorned with beautiful star vaults while the inner part of the main door is decorated using stuccos. The chapel also features the coat of arms of ‘Salzburg’ as well as of ‘Leonhard’. Two openings in the north wall connect the chapel with the side rooms.
The bed-chamber was the most isolated room of the princely apartments. Although the original materials such as furniture, tapestry, etc. are now replaced with their modern day counterparts, the spectacular ‘wainscoting’ that keeps the cold at bay is still in a good condition. Gilded buttons & rosettes adorn the upper part of the wall panel, whereas the lower part is now left empty. The bed-chamber also features an old time toilet, which consists of a hole in the floor surrounded by a wooden frame.
The imposing Hohensalzburg Castle, thus boasts the architectural prowess of the former Princely Archbishops of Austria. A walk through this veteran imperial guard that has witnessed the ups & downs of Austria in the past thousand years is equivalent to a walk through the history of the same duration. This offbeat destination is definitely worth visiting at least once in the lifetime!