Salzburg is located in western Austria only 150 km east of Munich, Germany and 300 km west of Vienna. It lies on the Salzach River, between Kapuzinerberg and Monchsberg mountains. The city has a population of 145,800 people. Architecturally and scenically it is one of the prettiest cities in Europe. The Altstad – historic city center located on the left bank of Salzach River is rich in baroque buildings, churches, plazas and fountains. In fact, it is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site.
Salzburg is the birthplace of probably the most famous musical genius of all times, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Apart from musical festivals and museums, there are also chocolates and liqueurs dedicated to his memory. Salzburg ’s fascination with Mozart culminates in the Salzburg Festival which pays homage to the city’s most famous son every year in July and August. The city was also the setting for the 1964 movie ‘Sound of Music’.
Salzburg was a city-state independent of the Habsburgs until 1816. The Residenz was home to its powerful rulers, prince-archbishops who ruled the city until 1816 when the Habsburgs took over. Among the must-see sights is St. Peter’s Abbey and Hohensalzburg Fortress situated atop a small hill overlooking the old town.
Salzburg has a continental climate also influenced by the nearby Alps. It has four distinct seasons. Summers are warm and wet but pleasant. July is the warmest month with the temperatures of around 24 °C . Winters are cold and abound in snow with temperatures around zero. The coldest month is January.
January average temperature -1 deg Celsius, 54 mm rainfall February average temperature 0 deg Celsius, 49 mm rainfall March average temperature 4 deg Celsius, 41 mm rainfall April average temperature 8 deg Celsius, 52 mm rainfall May average temperature 12 deg Celsius, 73 mm rainfall June average temperature 15.5 deg Celsius, 110 mm rainfall July average temperature 17 deg Celsius, 134 mm rainfall August average temperature 17 deg Celsius, 108 mm rainfall September average temperature 14 deg Celsius, 81 mm rainfall October average temperature 9 deg Celsius, 67 mm rainfall November average temperature 3 deg Celsius, 53 mm rainfall December average temperature 0 deg Celsius, 46 mm rainfall
Salzburg Airport is located 4 km to the west from the city center. It handles international flights as well as flights to Europe and Austria. There is no direct flight to or from the USA. These visitors can fly to Munich and continue to Salzburg. (There is a 90-minute train available from Munich to Salzburg.)
Taxi: the easiest way of reaching the city center, a ride takes around 20 minutes and costs somewhere between 13 – 14 EUR. Bus: Bus no. 2 leaves every 15 minutes from outside the airport for the Salzburg’s main train station in the city where you can switch to bus nos. 3 or 5 to reach the city center.
Salzburg has a good network of bike paths, as part of the effort to keep cars out of the city. You can rent bikes per day or per week. One of the rental offices is located at the main train station, open daily from April to September, from 7:00 am – midnight.
The bus system is efficient and has a variety of tickets available: from single tickets available from the driver, to multiple tickets available at tobacconists, to the Salzburg Card offering free transport in Salzburg, sold at the tourist offices.
Taxi stands are available throughout the city. The fares start at 3 EUR.
Bus taxis operate during the night from 11:00 pm to 1:30 am and has routes throughout the city and to nearby villages.
Driving is not recommended. Numerous streets are closed to cars and much of the old town is only accessible on foot. Parking is scarce.
Seeing Salzburg from a carriage is a special treat. Most fiakers are stationed in Residenzplatz and a 20 minute ride costs 33 EUR, (66 EUR for 50 minutes).
At Christmas time specially decorated carts drive people around the Christmas markets.
During the winter skiing is a hugely popular pastime. Although there are no ski slopes in Salzburg itself, it is situated in proximity to the skiing areas located in the south and thus serves as a gateway.
Untersberg Mountain (www.untersberg.net/) is a very popular destination located just 16 km to the north from the city center. There is a variety of paths leading to the top, but a cable car is also available. The top of the mountain offers a beautiful panorama of the city and the Alps.
Address: Getreidegasse 9 Phone: + 43 (662) 84 43 13 Open: daily 9:00 am – 6:00 pm; July & August 9:00 am – 7:00 pm
The house, located in the heart of Salzburg, was home to the Mozart family from 1747 to 1773. It is also the place where Mozart himself was born on January 27 1756. The house is today a popular museum and well worth a visit. The exhibition features interesting letters and memorabilia.
Address: Makartplatz 8 Phone: 0662 874227-40 Open: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm; July & August: 9:00 am – 7:00 pm;
The Mozart family lived in this house from 1773 to 1787. Today the house is home to an exhibition dedicated to the life and work of this musical genius. The exhibition features a slide show, pieces of music and commentary. There are also various instruments and sheet of music displayed.
Address: Mönchsberg 34 Phone: 842 43011 Web: www.salzburg-burgen.at Open: daily: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm Access: walking or funicular
The fortress sits atop a 120 m rock overlooking the city. Dating back to the 11 th century, the fortress is one of Europe’s biggest castles and was never captured by an enemy force. Originally it was built by Archbishop Gebhard to repel the attacking neighboring Bavarians. The fortress we see today was largely rebuilt during the 16 th century. Inside the fortress there is a museum of medieval weapons and torture instruments.
ST PETER’S ABBEY
Address: St. Peter Bezirk Phone: 844 5780 Open: daily: April – September: 6:30 am – 7:00 pm; October – March: 6:30 am – 6:00 pm
This is one of Salzburg’s most impressive Rococo buildings dating back to the 9 th century. The interior is richly decorated, contains frescos and marble pillars and is even more impressive than the exterior. A guided tour takes you to the catacombs carved into the rock by early Christian inhabitants.
The former official residence of the Salzburg prince-archbishop Wolf-Dietrich is a large complex of buildings overlooking the huge Residenzplatz with its famous fountain. The highlights include the Kaisersaal (Imperial Hall), Rittersaal (Knight’s Hall) which is also a magnificent concert hall, and the Residenzgallerie with a stunning art collection with masterpieces by Rubens, Rembrandt, Brueghel and more. As a point of interest, Mozart also played here often and was already at the age of 14 the first violin of the orchestra. In addition, his opera ‘La Finita’ was premiered in the Guard Room in 1769.
Salzburg ’s cuisine typically Austrian and the only typically Salzburg dish is Salzburger Nockerln, a sweet soufflé. Try fish as they are usually freshly caught in the nearby Salzkammergut lakes.
For traditional Austrian fare visit Zipfer Bräuhaus at Philharmonikergasse. Stiegl Keller, located below the Fortress on a mountain, is a cellar restaurant serving traditional food and the famous Stiegl beer right from the barrel.
For more luxurious restaurants try one of the following, located in city’s hotels. For example the Goldener Hirsch, the Schloss Mönchstein, or the "Ratsherrenkeller" located in the Hotel Elefant.
The cheapest and fastest snacks are the boiled sausages which can be bought at various street-stands.
World-famous music festival with operas, concerts and theatre plays in various venues throughout the city. It was founded in 1920 and is almost a century old. Every year the most famous event is the ‘Jedermann’ (Everyman) by Hugo v. Hoffmansthal conducted in front of the dome.
Recently, additional festivals have been organized; during the Easter the program is predominantly Baroque music and another one in the autumn with a jazz repertoire.
SALZBURG CULTURE DAYS
Date: last two weeks of October Location: various
The second festival in importance after the Salzburg Festival, the Salzburg Culture Days festival has gained prominence for its excellent program of concerts, stage presentations, opera and classical music. The festival lasts for two weeks and is held at various prominent locations throughout the city.
MOZART WEEK / MOZART WOCHE
Date: fourth week in January Location: various
The festival celebrates the memory of musical genius W.A. Mozart. Major symphony orchestras such as the Vienna Philharmonics, come here to play, as well as many chamber music groups. The program features Mozart’s famous works as well as some of his less known pieces.
Salzburg is the city of music. The most important event on the cultural calendar is the Salzburg Festival in July and August. (For more information see 'Events' section). Throughout the rest of the year concerts are held in the Residenz and in the Fortress. During the summer, the Mozart Serenades are held in the Gothic Room at St. Blase's Church.
For concerts in the spring try the Easter Festival. In October catch Salzburg Cultural days and Mozart Week is in late January.
For information on current events buy the local newspaper ' Salzburger Nachrichten' which has listings for performances held in the city.
The first signs of human settlement within the city limits can be traced back to the Neolithic Age. Later it became a Celtic camp. In 15 B.C. the Romans joined various smaller Celtic communities into a city called Juvavum. After the downfall of the Roman Empire, Juvavum was abandoned. The city came back to life in 699 A.D. when it was given as a present to St Rupert by the duke of Bavaria. Rupert became the bishop and launched St. Peter’s Abbey. He became the patron saint of the city and still is today. The city’s name Salzburg was first documented in 755 A.D.
The city fortress Hohensalzburg was built in 1077 and was expanded in the following centuries. In 1166 a dispute between the city’s archbishop and the German Emperor Barbarossa culminated in a fire that destroyed most of the city. In the 14 th century one third of the city’s population was wiped out by the plague. At the same time the province of Salzburg gained independence from Bavaria. The prince-archbishops who ran the town became increasingly intolerant so in 1492 the Jews were expelled from the city and later, in 1731-32 over 30,000 Protestants migrated to Prussia due to massive persecution. Social unrest and the beginning of the Reformation ushered in riots among the peasants. During the Bauerkriege (‘peasant wars’) Salzburg was occupied and the Fortress under siege for three months in 1525 before the uprising was quelled.
The 17 th and 18 th centuries were the most prosperous period in Salzburg. The wealth gathered by the salt trade was invested in the transformation of the city, making it one of the most outstanding baroque cities in Europe. In 1756 Salzburg’s most famous citizen, the musical prodigy Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, was born.
During the War of Austrian Succession, Salzburg remained neutral but afterwards it begun to lose its power and wealth. It came under secular rule in 1802 and during the Napoleonic Wars fell under France and later Bavaria. In 1814 it was annexed to the Austrian Empire. Salzburg remained a quiet town, slowly recuperating after Bavarian and French lootings. It only recovered in the 19 th century. At that time new districts began to emerge, built in neo-Classical style which was the typical Austro-Hungarian fashion of the time.
MODERN (20 TH CENTURY)
After WW I the Habsburg Monarchy was ruined and the Empire was divided into several smaller nations. One of them, the Republic of Austria, was established on November 12, 1918. In 1920 the Salzburg Festival was founded and the city became a popular summer destination for wealthy Germans and Viennese.
The new republic, however, was unstable and in 1938 the entire Austria became a part of Nazi Germany. A puppet government was installed and numerous Austrians were forced to join the German army. During WW II 46% of the buildings were destroyed in the air raids. After the war Austria again became a separate nation in 1945. In 1955 Austria joined United Nations and declared permanent neutrality. After the war the city recovered rapidly. In 1960 the University of Salzburg was re-established. The city became a popular tourist destination mostly on account of its famous citizen, Mozart.
In 1995 Austria joined the European Union and in 1997 Salzburg was listed as one of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites as a result of its unique baroque architecture still preserved in the old city center.
Today Salzburg is a prosperous city, rich in culture and natural beauty, and a popular tourist destination. Most recently Salzburg has made a bid to host the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Salzburg is a very safe city as is Austria in general. Even late at night it is known to be very safe. But nevertheless visitors should follow the usual precautions. Be prepared for pickpockets in crowded areas and around major tourist attractions. There are some areas in the northern outskirts that are better avoided but visitors usually never go there. Otherwise, Salzburg is one of the safest cities in the world.
Salzburg is a pleasant city all year round. However, November’s weather can be a bit gloomy. Nice weather starts around April and continues through summer until mid October. The months before or after the summer are best for visiting Salzburg. During this period you can expect lesser crowds and somewhat lower hotel prices.
In winter, especially between Christmas and New Year Salzburg is overflowing with skiers. Winter is also nice, the city is decorated with numerous lights and the Christmas markets make it look especially pretty.
The biggest crowds are expected in July and August during the major cultural festivals.
Bring an umbrella as Salzburg is known for drenching rain which can fall any time of the year.