Hohensalzburg Castle (Castelul Hohensalzburg)

The Hohensalzburg Castle is located in Salzburg, Austria. Constructed on the Festungsberg Mountain in the 12 century by the order of the archbishops of Salzburg, the castle is known at present as the most important landmark of the Austrian city.

The archbishops have seen to the permanent preservation and improvement of the edifice as the centuries went by and because of this, we have today the possibility to gaze on one of the most imposing castle in all of Central Europe.

The castle measures 250 m in length and 120 m in height, being one of the largest medieval castles on the European continent.

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Construction

The construction work began in 1077 and it was designed solely for defensive purposes. This was obvious from the original plan which consisted solely of an outer wall made out of wood. At the time of the Roman Empire, the archbishops began to expand the castle, having in mind the protection of their riches.

Political interests played an important role in the development of the castle, as the archbishops in power had to take into consideration that their enemies might strike them when they least expected. So an accurately constructed fortification was the key in these matters.

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The situation in which the Hohensalzburg Castle was sieged was singular in all of its history. This occurred in 1525, during the Peasants’ War, when workmen (miners, farmers) as well as other townsmen wanted to overturn the power of Prince/Archbishop Matthaus Lang. But they failed in their attemp as the castle could not be taken.

During the Thirty Years’ War, the castle underwent considerable modifications as it was further strenghtened so as to better serve its defense purpose.

Beginning from the late 19th century, Hohensalzburg was subjected to several restoration works and step by step transformed into an important tourist attraction.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the castle was used as a jail in which prisoners of WWI (mostly Italians) and Nazi activists were kept locked.

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Structure

The castle is equipped with a courtyard and is consists of multiple wings. It is impossible to accurately describe the various rooms in just a few words as the description would not do them justice. But this article will give insight into some of the chambers located in Hohensalzburg Castle.

In the latter years of the 15th century, the third floor of the Castle was constructed and it consisted of beautiful apartments rooms which were meant for celebrations and official events. The archbishops found accomodation at the first floor, so by no means were they to dwell at the third floor.

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Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach wanted to enlarge the construction even more so he had 4 colossal columns added on the right sight of the castle and used them in the construction of a veranda.  The majority of the rooms had the ceiling in the shape of a sunken panel, divided into squares. In the middle of each of the squares, the architects added gilded buttons, which were meant recall of the sky dotted with shining stars.

The Golden Hall, as this room is named, has a long beam sustaining the ceiling. The reason for which this precise detail is mentioned is that the beam traverses the entire length of the ceiling, measuring 17 m, but more importantly it has several coats of arms painted on it. The escutcheons belong to the Holy Roman Empire, to the Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach, as well as to the most dominant German cities and dioceses that were in one way or another linked to Salzburg.

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Golden Chamber

There is one room which stands out from all the others: the Golden Chamber – and this is due to the splendid furnishes that are found here. On both sides of the room, near the walls, one can find benches artistically adorned with elements pertaining to the natural world, more precisely to the plant and animal life. Thus we can find grapes, shrubbery, vines, as well as details from the fauna.

Initially, the benches were sheltered either by leather or by different types of fabrics, but these coverings have not lived to see our time.  The walls also used to be decorated with leather drapery, but the interesting part was that the leather was covered in gold. However, this as well, did not manage to survive the passage of time.

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Bedchamber

The bedchamber is the most intimate room of a dwelling; this is an accurate statement regardless of the century in which it is uttered. So the bedchamber in the Hohensalzburg Castle is the most intimate room of the fortress.

Unfortunately, the original elements which constituted this room were subsituted in time by more contemporary ones. But there is a reminder of the glorious past: the plastering on the wall which is richly adorned, thus emphasizing the status of the person dwelling in that particular room. The superior part still bears the original elements of decoration: golden buttons and emblems, but the inferior part is unembellished. It is improbably that this was left as such, so the only valid explanation is that this particular segment had velvet, leather or some sort of textile emboidery on it that did not survived to our days.

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So the answer to the question: ‘Why is this a must-see tourist attraction?’ is obvious. The Castle reigns over the city from its high position on the Festungsberg Mountain, offering a breathtaking view of Salzburg.

The castle bear historical and cultural significance, giving tourists the opportunity to retrieve to a certain extent the past. More so, there is a museum located within the castle which is opened for visitations all year long. This is equipped with audio guides in the most widely used languages so you will have to problem comprehending that which is explained to you.