What’s Doing in Salzburg?
Salzburg conjures up many images, including music, mountains, marionettes, and most notably Mozart. Literally, Salzburg means “salt castle” and it is the capital city of the state of Salzburg. It is also the fourth largest city in Austria with a population of approximately 150,000 inhabitants.
Salzburg is breathtakingly beautiful. It lies between mountains at an altitude of 1,400 feet (430 meters) where its hilly landscape begs to be admired.
As its name would suggest, Salzburg is remembered in history for its role in the salt trade, which dates back to at least the eighth century. The city’s mines were rich in salt and situated on the edge of the Salzach River, where barges carrying the valuable mineral were subject to a toll. Due to the production and taxation of salt shipments, the city flourished on the wealth generated by the trade.
Salzburg’s economy is still largely export-oriented, but now it also generates revenue from universities and tourism. The city is home to three institutions of higher learning: the University of Salzburg, Mozarteum Salzburg, and Paracelsus Medical University. The Salzburger Festspiele (Salzburg Festival) is a world-famous celebration of music and drama that takes place every year in the summer and puts the city on the world stage.
WHAT TO DO
Undeniably, Salzburg’s Altstadt (old town) is a unique and attractive area. The neighborhood’s historic baroque architecture has stood the test of time and all of its preserved beauty can be enjoyed to this day. Keep a camera ready, as the buildings will provide countless photo ops.
Take a walk around the clean and well-organized center and immerse yourself in another century. The area is replete with shops and restaurants; explore freely and find yourself a hidden gem. Suggestions on where to eat will be forthcoming.
Walk, or better yet take the 19th-century funicular railway (FestungsBahn), to the hilltop fortress, Festung Hohensalzburg, built in 1077, to take in the sights of the city and surrounding Austrian Alps. Try to do this on a nice day for the best unobscured views. The 54-second ride is on the oldest funicular in Austria (built in 1892) and takes you to one of Europe’s best-preserved castle complexes. The Fortress Museum (Festungsmuseum) has exhibits that display daily life in the castle and the history of the fortress, as well as weaponry and armor from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
To sample a portion of Salzburg’s history, take a trip to the Salzwelten Hallein where you can take a guided tour of a salt mine. Public transportation will get you from downtown Salzburg to the mine in Hallein in under an hour. Dress warmly as it can get quite cold in the mines.
And don’t miss visiting Salzburg Dom, the cathedral at the heart of Salzburg University. Here you can admire the essence of 17th century baroque architecture. While you’re in the area, stop by the Residenzplatz to hear the Glockenspiel play daily at 7 a.m., 11 a.m., and 6 p.m. in all of its 35-bell glory.