Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Salzburg
Salzburg, capital of the province of Salzburg and the gateway to Austria from the northwest, is one of Europe's most beautiful cities, admired equally for its buildings and its magnificent setting. In addition it enjoys a special fame in the world of music as the birthplace of Mozart: a fame reflected and maintained in the Mozarteum and the annual Festival.
In 1991, the bicentenary of Mozart's death, special events and celebrations were held. January 27, 2006 was the 250th anniversary of Wolfgang Mozart's birth, Salzburg had major celebrations throughout the year in recognition of this occasion. The picturesque town occupies both banks of the River Salzach, which here emerges from the Salzburg Alps into an expanse of lower land dominated by the Untersberg (1,853m/6,082ft). The prospect of the city, with the towers and domes of its churches and, looming over it the massive bulk of the Hohensalzburg fortress, is one of unforgettable beauty. The romantic old town, huddled on the left bank of the Salzach between the river, the Mönchsberg and the Festungsberg, is an area of narrow medieval streets, arcaded courtyards and tall narrow houses, contrasting with the town of the Prince Bishops between the Neutor and the Neugebäude, a magnificent Baroque residential area with handsome buildings and spacious squares. On the right bank of the Salzach lie the newer districts, with Kapuzinerberg and its conspicuous Capuchin friary above it to the east.
History and Art
Evidence of Neolithic settlement was found on the Rainberg. Later the site was occupied by Illyrians, whose name for the settlement, Juvavum ("seat of the sky god"), was taken over by the Celts and the Romans. During the Roman period (15 BC to AD 500) Salzburg had the status of a municipium, the chief town of a district. An important Roman road ran by way of Cucullae (Kuchl) and the Radstädter Tauern - where the old Roman milestones can still be seen - to Virunum, near Klagenfurt, and on to Rome. During the period of the great migrations Juvavum fell into decay. The next major events in the history of Salzburg were the occupation of the surrounding territory in the sixth C. by the Bajuwari or Bavarians, then still pagans, and the foundation of the monastic houses of St Peter and the Nonnberg by St Rupert (c. 696). Under Bishop Virgil (745-84), a native of Ireland, and his successor Arno, the Bishopric, founded in 739, became the base from which the Alpine lands and the territory in the middle Danube valley were Christianized. Virgil built the pre-Romanesque cathedral, the foundations of which were excavated in 1956-58. The Franciscan Church and St Michael's Church - originally the town's parish churches - also date from the eighth and early ninth C. The Romanesque period (1000-1250) was a great era of growth and development, when the Hohensalzburg and numerous churches were built - and so well built that the German king Conrad III was moved to say that he had never seen finer churches than those of Salzburg. The main structure of St Peter's Church dates from the 12th C. During this period, too, the Cathedral was rebuilt - with its five aisles the largest Romanesque church in the Holy Roman Empire. Remains of the frescos which then decorated the interiors of churches have survived in the Nonnberg convent with its severe and solemn half-length figures of saints. During the Gothic period (1250-1530) the secular power of the Archbishops suffered severe reverses in the Hungarian wars, but this was nevertheless a time of rich artistic activity. A new social class now came to the fore in the form of well-to-do townspeople, grown wealthy through their trade with Nuremberg, Augsburg, Vienna and Venice, The energetic Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach (1495-1519) rebuilt the Hohensalzburg broadly in the form in which we see it today. The Blasiuskirche (St Blaise's Church) was built in the 14th C., followed in the 15th C. by the magnificent choir of the Franciscan Church, the church of the Nonnberg convent and St Margaret's Chapel in St Peter's Churchyard. The sculpture of the period is represented by many pieces carved from the beautiful red Adnet marble, notable among them the magnificent monument of Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach on the outer wall of St George's Chapel in the Hohensalzburg. Salzburg's third great period of artistic creation, the Baroque age, began in the reign of Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau (1578-1612). A scion of the Medici family on his mother's side and educated in Rome, this great prince of the church completely transformed the face of the town, although most of his plans were carried to completion only in the time of his successors. The Cathedral was built up to roof level by Markus Sittikus of Hohenems (1612-19) and completed (1619-53) by Paris Count of Lodron, who also enclosed the town within new and powerful fortifications (1620-44) which saved it from the horrors of the Thirty Years' War. In the reign of Archbishop Johann Ernst von Thun (1687-1709) the famous architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach created the magnificently harmonious ensemble of Baroque architecture to which Salzburg owes its world renown. Of the 12 buildings in and around Salzburg for which Fischer von Erlach was responsible the Kollegienkirche is particularly notable, ranking as one of the outstanding achievements of all Baroque architecture. Thun's successor, Archbishop Franz Anton von Harrach (1709-27), replaced Fischer von Erlach with his like-minded rival Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt, architect of the Belvedere Palace in Vienna, who was responsible for the rebuilding of the Residenz and Schloss Mirabell (particularly notable features of which are the beautiful Marble Hall and the Grand Staircase with delightful sculptural decoration by Raphael Donner). Archbishop Leopold Anton von Firmian (1727-44) banished more than 20,000 Protestants from the province under an edict of 1731; their fate was the subject of Goethe's epic poem "Hermann and Dorothea" (1797). Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg in 1756. The 19th C. saw a decline in the political importance of Salzburg. The principality was secularized in 1803, but the city remained the seat of an archbishop, who still bears the title of "Primus Germaniae", a style granted in 1660. After brief periods of French and Bavarian rule Salzburg became part of Austria in 1816, and in the second half of the 19th C. the town enjoyed a period of economic revival, after the coming of the railroad linked it up with the trade and traffic of the modern world. The beauties of Salzburg and the Salzkammergut had previously been discovered and celebrated by the painters of the Romantic and Realist schools - although the local artist Hans Makart tended towards an ideal of purely external splendor. In general, however, Salzburg was more notable in Makart's time and in the early decades of the 19th C. as a focus of musical life rather than of the fine arts - a development which culminated in the institution of the Salzburg Festival. In 1956-60 the Festival was provided with a boldly designed new theater by Clemens Holzmeister below the rock face of the Mönchsberg, in which tradition and the requirements of modern times are happily combined.
Salzburg is noted for its famous Baroque architecture especially in the Old Town, a well-preserved city centre that is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is also well-known for its landmark settings from parts of the musical and film, the Sound of Music. Salzburg is a city for students as well due to the three universities. During peak times, tourists outnumber locals by a large margin.