Mönchsberg 34, Salzburg, Austria
NileGuide Expert tip:
Fragments of beautifully drafted medieval frescos can be seen on the walls in the gallery leading to the State Rooms. Take a minute to look for them.
Salzburg's signature landmark, Festung Hohensalzburg ("High Salzburg Fortress") sits atop rocky Mönchsberg ("Monks Mountain"), dominating the Altstadt. Located on the site of a Roman defensive outpost, the fortress was begun in 1077 by Prince-Archbishop Gebhard von Helfenstein. Much of its present form is due to the expansive building program conducted by Count Paris of Lodron in the 17th century as he strengthened the city's defenses during the Thirty Years War. One of the largest medieval castles in Europe, the Festung offers a fascinating look into the history of Salzburg. Many of its chambers and courtyards are open to view, including the brilliant painted and gilded state rooms. The Golden Room, with its magnificent wood panelling and carving, is especially interesting. You can get to the Festung via the Festungsbahn, a funicular train that climbs straight up the hillside. Or you can climb the mountain by foot, taking the wide path that doubles back as it ascends. (Continue past the entrance to the funicular ticket office and bear right after passing the beer hall.)