Funicular and Fortress Part 1

LINKS to pages in the Salzburg site and to the Colin Day Travelling Days series:

1 : Mirabell Gardens and Old Town
2 : Mozart Birthplace
3 : University Church and Cathedral
4 : Funicular and Fortress
5 : Cemetery and St Peter Abbey (Basilica)
6 : Theatre,Residenz and Sachertorte



The funicular railway leads from the heart of Salzburg's Old Town up to the city's most visible landmark in just sixty seconds. The FestungsBahn funicular runs at least every ten minutes.

Built in 1892 it is the oldest funicular in Austria.


Hohensalzburg Castle (Festung Hohensalzburg, literally "High Salzburg Fortress" in German) sits on Festungsberg hill.

With a length of 250 metres and a width of 150 metres, it is one of the largest medieval castles in Europe.


Construction of the fortress began in 1077 under Archbishop Gebhard von Helfenstein. This original design was just a basic bailey with a wooden wall. In Salzburg, the Archbishops were powerful political figures, and they expanded the castle to protect their interests. The Investiture Controversy influenced the expansion of the castle, with the Salzburg Archbishops taking the side of the Pope.

The castle was gradually expanded during the following centuries. The ring walls and towers were built in 1462 under Burkhard II of Weißpriach. Prince Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach further expanded the castle.

In 1515, Cardinal Matthäus Lang, who was later to become the Archbishop of Salzburg, wrote a description of the Reisszug, a very early and primitive funicular railway that provided freight access to the upper courtyard of the castle. The line still exists, albeit in updated form, and is probably the oldest operational railway in the world.

The only time that the fortress came under siege was in 1525, when a group of miners, farmers and townspeople tried to oust Prince Archbishop Cardinal Matthäus Lang, but failed to take the castle. During the Thirty Years' War, Count Paris of Lodron strengthened the town's defenses, including Hohensalzburg. He added various parts to the fortress, such as the gunpowder stores and additional gatehouses.


The fort was surrendered without a fight during the Napoleonic Wars. In the 19th century, it was used as a barracks, storage depot and dungeon before being abandoned as a military outpost in 1861.

During the early 20th century the fortress was used as a prison, holding Italian prisoners of war during World War I and Nazi activists (before the Anschluss with Germany) in the 1930s. It was refurbished in the 20th century and became a major tourist attraction. It stands today as one of the best preserved castles in Europe.


Views over Salzburg from the fortress. In the foreground of the picture on the left will be seen the cemetery and church of St Peter. Behind the church is the modert Festival Hall. Both buildings are featured in following pages of this website.


The entrance hall to the castle with cannon overlooking the old town and a pump supplying water to the fortress (right and below)


The large courtyard with the Romanesque chapel on the right and Schoolhouse on the left. Between them the main gate archway leads into the small courtyard of the keep or 'Hoher Stock' (right and below).

Above the archway is an inscription which reads, "The building of this ring wall and the gateways was commenced in the year 1496 by Archbishop Leonharten and completed in the year 97 thereafter".


The small courtyard with a view of the castle keep with the oriel of the Keutschach Chapel (below).


St George's Chapel (below) at the fortress Hohensalzburg in Salzburg was built during the reign of Archbishop Leonard von Keutschach (1495 to 1519) and inaugurated on August 21, 1502. The stonemasonry is of high standard and attributed to Hans Valkenaur, a local artist.


The Leonard von Keutschach memorial placed on the outside wall of the chapel by himself in 1515. As a successor of St Rupert and standing between the deacons Gislar and Chuniald he gives his blessing to the State of Salzburg (left).

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