Salzburg: Mirabell gardens with view to the Hohensalzburg Fortress © Tourismus Salzburg GmbH / Günter Breitegger
Hohensalzburg Fortress, built in 1077 by Archbishop Gebhard, considerably enlarged by Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach (1495-1519), largest, fully-preserved fortress in central Europe. The medieval princes' apartments and the Fortress Museum are of particular interest. Since 1892 the fortress can easily be reached by funicular railway departing from the Festungsgasse.
The more than 900-year-old citadel dates back to the investiture controversy between emperor and pope over the right to appoint the bishop. As a faithful servant of the pope, Archbishop Gebhart von Salzburg had the strongholds of Hohensalzburg, Hohenwerfen and Friesach built on his sovereign territory in 1077. Expansion of Gebhart's fortifications were temporarily completed under Konrad I (1160 - 1147).
During the 15th and 16th centuries, during the turmoil of the so-called Hungarian War and the Peasants' War in which the province of Salzburg was involved, the archbishops took refuge behind the battlements of the fortress. It was during this period that the main building was enlarged and the arsenal and the granary erected. Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach (1495 - 1519) enlarged the fortress and its exterior has remained substantially unaltered since then. The fortress' interior was richly decorated: intricate Gothic wood-carvings and ornamental paintings decorate the Golden Hall and the Golden Chamber. 58 insignia and coats of arms with the beetroot are commemorative of Leonhard von Keutschach. The fortress' symbol, the lion, holds the beetroot in its paws. One of the last extensive modifications was the addition of the great Kuenberg bastion.
During its long history the Hohensalzburg Fortress has always remained unconquered by enemy troops.
Having served as a fortification and temporary residence of the prince archbishops for many years, the fortress also served as military barracks and a prison. Prince Archbishop Wolf Dietrich was held captive in the fortress for five years by his nephew and successor, Markus Sittikus, up to his death in 1617.
Today the fortress is open to the public all year round and artists from around the world meet here for courses at the International Summer Academy. Besides the medieval rooms the romantic courtyard and the bastions regularly serve as scenery for events like the Fortress Concerts.