Thursday, September 4, 2014

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 158

Festung Hohensalzburg, ca 1917

Here are two vintage postcards from the early 1900s that I found in a little novelty shop in Slazburg, Austria, showing two different views of the fortress called Hohensalzburg Castle.  The card above is dated 1917 and numbered 435.  The second card, below, is not dated but appears to be the same vintage.  It has the number 351.  Both were printed in Salzburg. 

We took the funicular rail line that goes up to the top of the hill where the fortress sits three or four times during our stay in Salzburg.  The size and condition of the fortress are impressive for such an ancient structure.  The view from the top is stunning.  An evening out with dinner and a concert at the castle was a decided treat and the walk back to the hotel on a warm summer evening delightful.  Although we saw several regular beggars during the day they were not aggressive the way panhandlers in Seattle can often be and they were gone at night.  Salzburg is a very safe feeling city and people were walking at night without concern.

There is a secondary smaller watchtower fortress across the valley that is accessed by an elevator.   We did that also, once just we two and once with my visiting French friend.  There is a trail or pathway from one fortress to the other that we walked along until we came to a small outpost.  There is a quaint café at one end where we stopped and had a warm apple strudel with a generous amount of whipped cream. 

The walls of this fortress outpost were built in the 1400s.  Notice the slits in the tower where the archers would have fired their arrows at opposing forces.

Selfie to prove we were here!

View from the secondary fortress looking toward the castle

The Prince-Archbishops of Salzburg initiated the construction of the fortress.  It is 820 feet or 250 meters long and 490 feet or 150 meters wide making it one of the largest medieval castles in Europe.  Building began in 1077 as a basic bailey with a wooden wall. 

One of several guard houses

There were additions and improvements made to the castle throughout the centuries such as the ring walls and towers that were built in 1462, expansion occurred 1495-1519 under the Prince Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach.  There was a very early and primitive funicular that allowed freight to be hauled up to the castle.  The funicular has been updated but is possibly the oldest operational railway in the world.  Models of the fortress and its successive improvements are on display inside the castle. 

The fortress came under siege once during the German Peasants’ War, 1525, when a group of miners, farmers and townspeople tried to oust the then Prince-Archbishop Matthäus Lang.  They failed to take the castle.  In 1612 the Archbishop von Raitenau died there in prison.  The castle’s defenses were strengthened during the Thirty Years’ War by adding parts to it such as the gunpowder stores and gatehouses.  The fort was surrendered without a fight to the French troops during the Napoleonic War 1800.  The fortress has also been used as barracks, a storage depot and dungeon until 1861 when it was abandoned as a military outpost.  It was used as a prison during World War I.  It has been refurbished, contains a museum, restaurant, gift shop and has become a major tourist attraction.  The fortress is one of the best-preserved castles in Europe.  An Austrian commemorative coin (2006) uses the Hohensalzburg castle as the main motif.  Another coin minted in 1977 was issued to celebrate the 900th anniversary of the castle.

Here are some more photos from our recent visit.

Looking toward the fortress from Mirabel Gardens

The funicular train climbs up to the castle on this rail line.  It is a short ride but very steep.

Looking over part of the old city from the castle wall

The small orange plaque on the inner Bastian gives the construction date as 1497

Parts of this wall date from the 1400s while other sections are a bit newer.  There is a pile of fake canon balls in the small courtyard.

Inside the walls the space is large and there are many separate buildings including this church dedicated to one of the Archbishops.  Bright flowers and plants in full bloom graced the otherwise stark surroundings.

Living quarters for the Archbishop were on the second and third floors of the main castle.  Today evening concerts are held in the Golden Chamber.  The walls of the chamber used to be covered with cloth or leather that has not survived but the gold buttons in the ceiling have lasted through the years and symbolize the stars in the sky.  The funicular ticket gives entrance to the museum but the concert tickets are extra.  

Ceiling buttons and wall decorations

 The Golden Chamber where concerts are held today

Tile stoves used to heat the living quarters


The museum has recreated or restored rooms, musical instrument displays, and a very clever exhibit of invisible puppets dressed in armor and posed as if in battle.  There are also canons and other weapons.

 Bob standing by one of the cannons

 Armor displayed on puppets in battle poses

 Beautiful carved support pillar

Recently discovered very early construction of an inner arch that had been walled over.

Twilight view from the castle wall

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