The Fortress & Palaces

Hohensalzburg Fortress


The fortress is over 900 years old and was originally built to guarantee the safety of the archbishops; while also serving as barracks and a prison. Today’s exterior was designed by Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach. Of particular interest are the fortress museum and the medieval stately chambers. The interior of the fortress was furnished to impress with magnificent gothic carvings, ornamental paintings and frescos, and decorative gold leaf – all of which attests to the wealth of the prince bishops.

The steep cone-shaped rock had already been seen as strategically beneficial vantage point on the northern edge of the Alps for centuries. In 1077 the archbishop of the time, Gebhard I of Helffenstein, ordered the erection of a castle above the city of his residence. Building work was triggered by an investiture dispute between the German emperor, Heinrich IV, and Pope Gregor VII, who was supported by the archbishopric of Salzburg.

Although Archbishop Gebhard was forced into exile in 1085, his successors completed the building. Fortress Hohensalzburg was constructed in three main phases, responding to the development of powerful weaponry with an ever greater range by further fortifying the castle. Intensive building work under the rule of Archbishop Leonard von Keutschach around 1500 completed the fortress as it can be seen today. In 1501 under his regency the ‘Upper Level’ was developed into a ‘pallas’, cisterns were installed and the existing towers raised.

Hellbrunn Palace & Trick Fountains

Schloss Hellbrunn – a pleasure palace

Between 1612 and 1615, Salzburg’s prince-archbishop Markus Sittikus commissioned the building of a summer residence at the foot of Hellbrunn mountain, a location already abundant in naturally flowing waters. Based on Italian models and in a relatively short period of time, an architectural jewel had been created, still reckoned amongst the most magnificent Renaissance buildings north of the Alps.

The pleasure palace in Hellbrunn was designed to serve one specific purpose: provide amusement, distraction and entertainment. Very much in keeping with its motto: Joie de Vivre since 1615!

The trick fountains allow you to experience, in virtually unchanged form, what brought so much pleasure for the archbishops almost 400 years ago: mysterious, mystical grottos, water-driven mechanical figures and mischievous jets of water spurting out from every nook and cranny.

Mirabell Palace and Gardens

Built by prince-archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau in 1606 as a token of his love for Salome Alt. Originally known as Schloss Altenau, it would subsequently be renamed “Mirabell” by Markus Sitticus.

Mirabell is a female name form Italy, a compound of the words mirabile ‘admirable‘ and bella ‘beautiful‘. And Schloss Mirabell, with its glorious gardens, has clearly earned that name beyond a shadow of a doubt.

In 1854, Emperor Franz Joseph made Mirabell Gardens open to the public for the very first time. To this very day, it remains a gem of garden architecture and a popular photo motif.

Leopoldskron Palace

Schloss Leopoldskron is pure inspiration! Situated in a unique lakeside location with magnificent view of the majestic mountains, the palace is only a short walk from the old town of Salzburg.

In 1736 the Prince Archbishop of Salzburg, Leopold Anton Freiherr von Firmian, was inspired to build his family residence in this beautiful and unique location. He died shortly after its completion in 1744 and, as an expression of his love for this palace, willed that his heart be buried beneath the chapel of Schloss Leopoldskron.

Ownership of the palace changed frequently throughout the 19th century. The most famous owner was King Louis I. of Bavaria, who celebrated the engagement of the future Empress Sissi to Emperor Franz Josef of Austria with the family at Schloss Leopoldskron.

In 1918 Max Reinhardt, the founder of the Salzburg Festival and Europe´s most famous theater impresario, bought the estate, lovingly restored it over the next twenty years to its original splendor, and making it an important international venue for the artistic and cultural life of his time.

17 thoughts on “The Fortress & Palaces”

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