Salzburg in a Glimpse
Salzburg is a city in central Austria, near the German (Bavarian) border with a population of some 150,000 in 2013. If you have seen the movie The Sound of Music web, you may think you know all there is to see in Salzburg. Admittedly, it is difficult not to burst into songs when you're walking along the Salzach River, or climbing up to the Hohensalzburg fortress which looms over the city. But there is a lot more to this compact, courtly city than Julie Andrews and as Mozart's birthplace.
Salzburg is the fourth-largest city in Austria (after Vienna, Graz and Linz) and the capital of the federal state of Salzburg. Its "Old Town", with its world famous baroque architecture, is one of the best-preserved city centers in the German-speaking world and was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.
Origins of name:
The name Salzburg literally means "Salt Fortress", and derives its name from the barges carrying salt on the Salzach river, which were subject to a toll in the 8th century.
Early history and medieval period:
Traces of human settlements dating to the Neolithic Age and later a Celt camp have been found in the area. Starting from 15 BC, the small communities were grouped into a single town which was named by the Romans as Juvavum. Little remains of the city from this period.
The Festung Hohensalzburg, the city's fortress, was built in 1077 and expanded in the following centuries. Independence from Bavaria was secured in the late 14th century.
Salzburg has been the capital of an independent state from the early 14th century until 1805. It was ruled by prince-archbishops, who became rich by the salt mines located in the south of the city. This led to the architectural gem you see today, as not only materials, but also architects were imported from Italy and other European countries. This is also the reason why, compared to other Austrian cities, sacral monuments outnumber the few secular buildings in every respect. This is how Salzburg got the nickname the Rome of the north. Everywhere you go in this city you see and read about the legacy of the Archbishops.
The best way to get around Salzburg is by foot. There is a network of city buses, the StadtBus, with numbers from 1 to 8 (O-Buses, electric) and 20-27 (fuel-powered). A single trip in the bus is €2.40, a 24 h ticket €5.30. which covers the whole city. If you travel by bus, make sure you catch none of the last buses. They will take you several miles out of town with your only way back being by walking or taxi. With that said, if you need to get somewhere late at night it may be best to take a taxi or walk.
Conveniently, bus tickets can be bought on the buses from the bus driver. However, if you have time, buy the tickets in advance at a "Trafik", since they are then significantly cheaper. For example, a single trip then costs only €1.60, but you have to buy the tickets in blocks of 5. Single tickets are also available from automatic machines at central bus stops.
The "Lokalbahn" train has a separate train station under the main train station and travels in the direction of Oberndorf and Lamprechtshausen. Tickets can be bought on the train.
Another option for exploring areas around the main city (Bad Ischl, Fuschlsee, etc.) are the POST-BUSes. These also leave from the main train station; tickets can be bought from the driver.
Finally, another excellent option is renting a bike. Salzburg has over 100 km of bike paths, and using this mode of transportation is often faster than bus, car or foot. There are also excellent bike paths on either side of the river which you can follow to either Freilassing (35 min), Oberndorf or Hallein (each about an hour away).
Having arrived at the airport (Flughafen Salzburg) it is very easy to make your way into the town centre by electric trolleybus or other modes of transport. Tickets for these services can be bought easily from the bus driver and you can travel from here to the "Hauptbahnhof" main station where you can reach many destinations, predominantly in Austria, but also across the whole of Europe.
A number of companies run coach tours in and around Salzburg. By far the most popular of these are dedicated to the locations featured in The Sound of Music.
For almost a century, Salzburg has hosted the world famous Salzburg Festival web, with operas, concerts, and theater plays in different locations throughout the city. It was founded by Hugo von Hoffmansthal, Max Reinhardt and Richard Strauss in 1920. It takes place in July and August, the most famous piece is the "Jedermann" ("Everyman") by Hugo v. Hoffmansthal, being conducted in front of the Dom (Cathedral) every year.
More recently, festivals also take place during Easter time (with mostly Baroque music), and in autumn.
Depending on how long you want to stay in Salzburg and how much you want to pack into one day, the Salzburg Card could be a good investment, it includes: