A varied visit
Hohensalzburg Fortress has still got its charm from earlier days of gory and encompasses 30,000 m² (3 ha) of total surface. Considering its size it's unparalleled in Europe, being one of the largest fortresses or castles on the continent. Even nowadays you can walk through the walls and experience Austrian history in architecture. If you wish to see contemporary relics from an era the fortress was actually used as a defence work, it's recommended to walk along the exterior side of the fortress to be able to see the walls and casemates. Visitors are also allowed access to the splendid state rooms and gain an impression of the wealthy conditions that once prevailed within this fortress. Should you be interested in some more information, you may also get yourself an audio guide and listen to all information while comfortably walking through the fortress. This way you can learn more about the torture chamber and defensive corridor.
Museums all over
You can learn even more about Hohensalzburg Fortress and its particular history in its very own museum. The so-called “Festungsmuseum”, literally “museum of the fortress”, was established in 1952, providing plenty of information on the architectural history of the fortress and how everyday life looked like here throughout the centuries. Additionally, you find the Rainer-Regiments-Museum on-site that mainly shows weapons, uniforms and other relics from the time the war council was still held. Last but not least, the “Marionettenmuseum”, museum of marionettes, must not be forgotten when talking about Hohensalzburg museums. It exhibits the famous puppets from the Salzburg Theatre of Marionettes.
Travelling by train to the fortress
If you are not in the mood to walk all the way up to Hohensalzburg Fortress, taking up to 20 minutes, you may comfortably take the train (“Festungsbahn”) uphill instead. The Festungsbahn train was inaugurated 120 years ago and originally constructed to manage and cope with the amounts of visiting guests better. First, it was fuelled by hydro power, which the name “Tröpferlbahn” in Austrian German is derived from and can be translated as “dripping train”. Ever since a modernisation was carried out in 1960 the train has been operated electronically. The latest feature is the panorama window that was added in 2011, which you can already enjoy a wonderful view through when on the train.
Walking around the fortress and receiving information all day long will make you hungry. You don't need to walk back to the town centre of Salzburg to get some food. You can find a castle tavern up here, the so-called “Burgschenke”, serving hearty meals while the restaurant “Zur Festung Hohensalzburg” has delicious local specialities to offer.
Hohensalzburg Fortress has a long history originating in the middle ages. The fortress is not without a reason the largest of its kind in Europe with a surface of 7,000 m² (0.7 ha). It took centuries for the fortress to be built and to give it the majestic appearance it has today. In 1077 a residential tower was created for the arch bishop of Salzburg, which was only finished towards the middle of the 12th century. This was just the first part of the building, others were to follow until the fortress got the shape and size it has today.
The genesis of the fortress thus led through various architectural periods. In the course of the 15th century, unique artworks of the Gothic period were created. Above all, the Gothic elements can be primarily seen in the living space of the fortress. In the beginning of the 17th century, then, the fortress went through its very own period of Renaissance as many parts were redone and newly added to the complex, for instance, the “Große Zeughaus”, a large armoury and the bastions. The fortress, furthermore, used to serve all kinds of purposes. First, it was used as a fortification what it nowadays is also famous for. The fortress, in its entire history, has never been conquered by external aggressors. It additionally used to function as both a prison and barracks. Nowadays, it clearly is one of the most famous sights in entire Austria.
How to get there
Coming from the direction of Munich
You leave Munich via the A8 heading southwards. Keep following the road for the next 126 km (78 mi) until you arrive at the German-Austrian border. Here you change to the A1 and take Exit 288 leading in the direction of Salzburg, which you now may directly reach by taking the Salzburger Straße (B150).
Coming from the direction of Linz
First, you need to take the A7 in order to end up on the A1. Follow the road for about 117 km (73 mi). Leave the motorway via Exit 288 taking you to Salzburg Nord to be able to get directly to the city centre Salzburg via the Salzburger Straße (B150).
Coming from Bischofshofen
By taking the A10 you drive out of town and follow the road for about 38 km (24 mi). Hereafter, you change to the A1. Take Exit 288 in the direction of Salzburg. You get to the town centre by continuing on the Salzburger Straße (B150).
By Public Transport
Coming from Munich
Trains heading towards Budapest will call at Salzburg central station.
Coming from Linz
The ICE (Intercity Express) train going to Bregenz calls at Salzburg.
Coming from Bischofshofen
By using the S3 train heading to Freilassing, you'll arrive at Salzburg central station within an hour.
Once you arrive in Salzburg, you may instantly walk uphill to Hohensalzburg Fortress. The distance is about 20 minutes of walking time. Make sure you have solid footwear with you.