The first thing you notice when you get to Salzburg, Austria is the large castle planted high above the city. Salzburg Castle (which is known locally as Festung Hohensalzburg) is the ultimate landmark. Anywhere you go in the city, you see the fortress looking over you. Not only is Salzburg Castle beautiful, it also acts as a museum and offers incredible views of the city.
Salzburg Castle literally sits on top of a mountain. The Austrian name, Festung Hohensalzburg, actually means “high Salzburg fortress.” To get to the Salzburg Castle you can take a cable railway called a funicular or you can hike to the fortress. Admission tickets to the castle are a little cheaper if you walk to the top rather than taking the funicular. My mom and I chose to take the funicular to the top (we only had one day, so it was our quickest option). It was a short ride with a great view.
If you don’t catch the views on the ride up — don’t fret! Salzburg Castle offers spectacular views of the city, the Salzach River, and the surrounding mountains. Unfortunately, it was rainy and cloudy when we were in Salzburg, so we couldn’t really see many of the mountain peaks. The front of Salzburg Castle overlooks the city center, but make sure you get to the backside of the fortress to see a completely different/quieter view of the city. It’s much more green and mountainous back there. No matter which side you’re on, you can’t beat the views on top of Salzburg Castle.
Not only does Salzburg Castle offer amazing views, but it’s also picturesque in its own right. You can get great photos of the castle from all over Salzburg. I especially liked the view of Salzburg Castle and surrounding Old Town Salzburg from Makarsteg Bridge (that’s where I shot this video). I also loved the view of Salzburg Castle from Mirabellgarten. It’s a truly amazing sight!
Since the castle has stood on the same spot since it was constructed in 1077, there is tons of history inside the fortress. Everything you want to know about the history of Salzburg, or Austria in general, you can find there. I hate to say this, but I thought the museum inside the castle was pretty boring. I’m sure that all falls on me though. Salzburg was one of the last stops on our trip, so I had already seen too many museums. I was museumed out. Don’t get me wrong: there are some beautiful rooms inside the castle, but I could have fallen asleep walking through there.
With that said, there was one exhibit that really liked at Salzburg Castle. It was an exhibit about the prisoners they kept inside the fortress. They displayed old doors that kept the prisoners locked inside their room (it was a large room that housed hundreds of prisoners). On the backside of the door (the side that faced the prisoners) were names and pictures carved into the wood. The prisoners would get bored, so they literally left their mark on the door. It was crazy to see the marks left by people hundreds of years ago. I honestly thought that I took a picture when I was there (that’s why I included this part), but I can’t find it anywhere (sorry). I guess that means you’ll just have to go see it for yourself!
On top of all that, Salzburg Castle also hosts one of the largest concert series in the world. Salzburg is renowned for its music (click here for our post about that). It’s the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and it’s also the setting for The Sound of Music. There are more than 300 concerts (classical; mostly work by Mozart and his contemporaries) every year at the Salzburg Castle, and they’re performed almost nightly throughout the year. I didn’t see a Salzburg Fortress Concert when I was there, but it’s apparently one of the most popular things to do in the city.
If you don’t visit the fortress for a concert, I still recommend making the trip to Salzburg Castle. I know I didn’t sell the museum part of it, but the views are worth a trip on their own. And unless you’re crazy about Mozart, there isn’t a mind-blowing list of things to do in Salzburg. It’s the centerpiece of the city, which makes it a can’t miss spot on your visit.
Have you ever visited Salzburg Castle? What did you think of your experience? We would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Don’t forget to visit Seattle Bloggers for more of our adventures around the Emerald City and the world, including Lisbon, Paris, London, Oslo, Amsterdam and so many more.