Castle spotlight, Hohensalzburg Castle, Austria

Hohensalzburg Castle
Hohensalzburg Castle, known as Festung Hohensalzburg in German, is situated on a hill overlooking the Austrian city of Salzburg, located in the west of the country. At more than 300,000 square feet in size Hohensalzburg Castle lays claim to being one of the largest medieval castles in Europe. Original construction began in the 11th century by the catholic church who were a very powerful force in medieval Salzburg. In the almost 1000 years of it’s existence the castle has never been conquered and remains one of the few castles in Austria with this status. Today it is the main tourist attraction in the city of Salzburg and houses the Fortress Museum.

The head of the Catholic Chirch in Salzburg at the time, the powerful Archbishop Gebhard von Helfenstein is the man credited with the  initial construction of the fortress, beginning in the year 1077. The original basic fortress and wooden wall was gradually expanded over the proceeding centuries as the church looked to protect its interests. Burkhard II of Weißpriach added the distinctive ring walls and towers in 1462. Prince Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach further expanded the castle in the 16th century. In 1515, Cardinal Matthäus Lang, who was later to become the Archbishop of Salzburg, wrote a description of the Reisszug, a very early and primitive funicular railway that provided freight access to the upper courtyard of the castle. The line still exists, albeit in updated form, and is probably the oldest operational railway in the world.

The only time that the fortress came under siege was in 1525, when a group of miners, farmers and townspeople tried to oust Prince Archbishop Cardinal Matthäus Lang, but failed to take the castle. During the Thirty Years' War ( 1618-1648), Count Paris of Lodron strengthened the town's defenses, including Hohensalzburg. He added various parts to the fortress, such as the gunpowder stores and additional gatehouses. The fort was surrendered without a fight during the Napoleonic Wars. In the 19th century, it was used as a barracks, storage depot and dungeon before being abandoned as a military outpost in 1861.

Festung Hohensalzburg.During the early 20th century it was used as a prison, holding Italian prisoners of war during World War I and Nazi activists (before the Anschluss with Germany) in the 1930s. It was refurbished in the 20th century and became a major tourist attraction, with a cable car called the Festungsbahn, built in 1900, leading up from the town to the Hasengrabenbastei. It stands today as one of the best preserved castles in Europe.The Hohensalzburg was recently selected as main motif for the Austrian Nonnberg Abbey commemorative coin minted in April 5, 2006. This was the first coin of the series "Great Abbeys of Austria". It shows the Benedictine convent of Nonnberg Abbey. In the hilltop on the background, the castle and the Kajetaner church can be seen. Also in 1977 the Austrian Mint issued a coin for the 900th anniversary of the Hohensalzburg

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