Festung Hohensalzburg

Towering high above the town of Salzburg is the Festung Hohensalzburg. The fortress is one of Austria's most visited tourist destinations, actually the most visited outside of Vienna, and it's not hard to guess why. Built at the behest of the Prince-Archbishops of Salzburg with a length of 250 metres and a width of 150 metres, it is one of the largest medieval castles in Europe and spans a history of almost 1000 years. It was in the year 1077 that Archbishop Gebhard von Helfenstein commanded the construction of the fortress overlooking the Salzach river and the surrounding valley on four sides. It is likely that a wooden fortification had already been situated on the hill previously.
During the following years, decades and centuries, his successors developed and expanded the Festung to represent and protect their ever-growing powers that also included the secular rule over the Prince-Archbishopric. Archbishop Konrad I (1106-1147) added a keep and also during the 12th and 13 centuries, the entire plateau of the hill was included into the fortifications. The ring walls and towers were built in 1462 under Prince-Archbishop Burkhard II von Weisspriach. Prince-Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach further expanded the fortress during his term from 1495 until 1519 - and thus gave the Festung it current outer appearance. 
While the original purpose of the fortress had been to protect the principality and the archbishops from hostile attacks, Prince-Archbishop Leonhard wished for a more representative building to demonstrate his power. He also added interior decorations befitting his position as the head of one of the most productive gold- and silver-mining states. The only time that the fortress actually came under siege was during the times of his successor. In the German Peasants' War of 1525, a group of miners, farmers and townspeople tried to oust Prince-Archbishop Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg. Despite him not being able to leave the Festung for 14 weeks, it was not captured and the Prince-Archbishop remained in power. 
Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau, who also built Schloss Mirabell for his mistress Salomé Alt, first expanded the fortress' interior and was later imprisoned and died at Festung Hohensalzburg after entering into a dispute with the mighty Wittelsbach family ruling the neighbouring Duchy of Bavaria. He was ultimately deposed and imprisoned for life by his nephew and successor, Mark Sittich von Hohenems. 
During the Thirty Years' War, Archbishop Count Paris of Lodron strengthened Salzburg's defenses, including the Festung. He made several changes to the fortress, including the addition of gunpowder stores and new gatehouses. He also modernised the ageing fortifications by strengthening the bastions and flattening some of the roofs. The last major changes to the fortress were made during the late 17th century.
Festung Hohensalzburg was surrendered without a fight to French troops during the Napoleonic Wars in 1800. The last Prince-Archbishop Count Hieronymus von Colloredo abandoned the fortress and fled to Vienna. The Prince-Archbishopric was subsequently secularised and ceased to exist. Salzburg ultimately became part of the Austrian Empire and the fortress was both used a barracks and a prison. It was abandoned as a military outpost in 1861 and soon afterwards transformed into tourist destination. A funicular railway leading from the city centre of Salzburg to the Festung towering above was opened in 1892 - and takes you up to the fortress to this day, also in a more modern form. Apart from stunning views over Salzburg, a visit to the fortress also gives you the chance to visit several museum and the residential rooms of the Prince-Archbishops.

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