An Adventurous Visit to Salzburg

Salzburg, Austria is a fairy-tale land. Like Vienna, it creates mental images of snowy landscapes, beautiful Baroque and colonial buildings, culture, and history, and is not to be missed by anyone visiting Europe and Austria in particular. One of Salzburg’s most recognizable features is the amazing Festung Hohensalzburg, translated as “High Salzburg Fortress.” On any skyline photograph of Salzburg, this centuries-old stone “castle” rises high above the city on Festung Hill, a romantic and interesting vision. A natural feature that rivals Festung Hill for beauty and ambiance is the Untersberg, an impressive mountain that dominates Salzburg’s distant landscape. If you’re adventurous enough to make it to the top, you can see two countries (Germany and Austria) and be a part of the amazing majesty of the Alps. Expect to feel tiny next to these fantastic mountain peaks!

Once, centuries ago, when much of Europe was under control of the Roman Empire, the area that is today Salzburg was called “Juvavum.” This settlement did not last longer than the 600s and was abandoned. The word Salzburg (the German word for ‘salt’ being ‘salz‘) was used for the area in the 700s when a church was said to be constructed on this site and a Bishop Rupert was responsible for giving the name. At one time, Salzburg was under the heel of Bavaria, but this changed in the 1300s. It then became connected with the Holy Roman Empire, a connection many Germans and Austrians held in common. The people of Salzburg have always been indomitable; an incident in 1731 proves this fact. The Edict of Expulsion was meant to drive away Protestant citizens in Salzburg, but it only affirmed their strength in their faith. These people were still forced to abandon their homes, however, creating one of Salzburg’s saddest tales throughout history.

Though Salzburg was ruled by religious authority for years, this changed in the 1800s and the city soon became part of what is today known as Austria. During World War II, Austria was under attack by German troops who wanted to add the country to their domain; Salzburg’s Jewish citizens suffered intense pressure during this occupation. Festung Hohensalzburg, the romantic fortress that gives Salzburg its unique charm among the many beautiful cities of Austria, was originally built in the 1000s and, as with many fortresses and castles, was rebuilt and worked on all the way down through time. Bombers laid waste to much of Salzburg during the war also, throwing many buildings into oblivion. Fortunately, the city’s lovely Baroque structures survived, allowing Salzburg to keep its amazing charm and remain as one of the prettiest cities in the country.

Some of the main attractions (besides the amazingly beautiful Festung Hohensalzburg) include Old Town, the Cathedral, Residenz Palace, various churches, and two buildings connected to the life and times of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Anyone who has seen the popular movie The Sound of Music sound recognize some scenery; you can even take a tour that will show you areas where the movie was filmed and tell you about each place’s symbolism. Old Town is home to many of Salzburg’s great attractions such as the cathedral. Stop here to be transported back in time to the era when Salzburg was a capital of art and finery.

Salzburg Cathedral is a wonderful stop for anyone who loves beauty, spirituality, and architecture. Classical music lovers will enjoy the city’s undeniable connections with Mozart, who was born in Salzburg and lived and worked in the city. While you’re trekking around, another great attraction not to miss is Mirabell Palace; its gardens alone are worth a visit. Schloss Klessheim, though no longer used as a palace, has a long and arduous history. Schloss Leopoldskron has stunning architecture as well; visiting these grand old palaces will send you on an imaginary time machine and will make it very easy to imagine you’re visiting royal families of the past.

Salzburg can be chilly; like Germany, Switzerland, and other Western European countries, Austria evokes a kind of cold wonderland where coats always come in handy. Make sure to dress warmly if you plan to visit Salzburg during a cold season. If you’re lucky, you’ll see the city’s Baroque architecture covered in a blanket of new snow.