Salzburg – Holy Roman Empire: 1332 A.D.

Salzburg is a bustling market city, radiating out from its central feature, the Hohensalzburg Fortress which oversees the city and the plains surrounding it. It is a major center of trade and is full of citizens of all stations, from vastly wealthy merchants to the poorest of the poor. The Salzach River, flowing from the Prealps in the south, winds through the city as its historic lifeline and separates it into two halves, the so-called left and right banks of the Salzach. The left bank of the Salzach, the Old City, is the original site where the ancient Roman settlement of Juvavum once stood and is definitely the more wealthy side of the river, though the disparity between the two sides is not a great one. The Nonntal Bridge, State Bridge, Makart Footbridge and Mülln Footbridge connect the two sides of the city.

The Old City is picturesquely surrounded by the Mönchsberg, crowned by the Fortress which is visible for miles, and the mighty Capuchin Mountain on the right banks of the river, though the term “mountain” is slightly exaggerated in this case.

The Old City is comprised of a variety of architectural styles, as Salzburg is a bustling market city and its merchants (from all over Europe, the steppes of Russia, Asia Minor, and even a few from Africa) have brought their architectural styles with them. A walk through the countless narrow streets (the most famous being the Getreidegasse, Judengasse, Goldgasse, Kaigasse, Linzergasse and Steingasse) features buildings ranging from the time of Christ to the Middle Ages.

The city’s most famous squares/plazas include Residence Square with its splendid fountain, the neighboring Old Market, University Square, as well as Mazardt Square with a memorial to the city’s genius and savior.

There is no lack of imposing buildings, the most striking of which include the Cathedral, Hohensalzburg Fortress (in the center of the City), the Residenz, St. Peter’s Monastery with its impressive cemetery, the Franciscan Church and the Collegiate Church. On the right bank of the Salzach lies Mirabell Palace with the immaculate Mirabell Gardens (which have taken centuries to perfect) and St. Sebastian’s Church with its charming cemetery. Hellbrunn Palace (Mazardt’s Home), with its trick fountains and menagerie, is situated just outside the old city gates.

Hohensalzburg Fortress Hohensalzburg Fortress, finished in 1077 by Archbishop Gebhard, was considerably enlarged by Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach (in 1295), making it the largest fortress in central Europe.

The centuries old citadel dates back to the investiture controversy between emperor and pope over the right to appoint the bishop. As a faithful servant of the pope, Archbishop Gerhard von Salzburg had the strongholds of Hohensalzburg, Hohenwerfen and Friesach built on his sovereign territory in 1077. Expansion of Gebhart’s fortifications was temporarily completed under Konrad I (1160-1147).

During the 13th and 14th centuries, during the turmoil of the so-called Hungarian War and the Peasants’ War, in which the province of Salzburg was involved, the archbishops took refuge behind the battlements of the fortress. It was during this period that the main building was enlarged and the arsenal and the granary erected.

The fortress’ interior is richly decorated: intricate Gothic wood-carvings and ornamental paintings decorate the Golden Hall and the Golden Chamber. 58 insignia and coats of arms with the beetroot are commemorative of Leonhard von Keutschach. The fortress’ symbol, the lion, holds the beetroot in its paws. One of the last extensive modifications was the addition of the great Kuenberg bastion.

During its long history the Hohensalzburg Fortress has always remained unconquered by enemy troops.

Salzburg’s History Salzburg is proud of its past. As an ecclesiastical principality which enjoyed the exclusive status of being responsible to the Holy Roman Emperor directly, Salzburg is ruled by archbishops, uniting both secular and ecclesiastical power. The city of 1332 is located on the ancient site of the Roman city Juvavum, a settlement which grew up on one of the major military roads of the ancient world. After the collapse of Rome, centuries passed until, in 696, Bishop Rupert founded the city anew. Over one hundred churches, castles and palaces bear witness to the power of the Salzburg archbishops.

Pre-history and Roman Times: Prehistoric finds, some dating back to the New Stone Age, attest to the settlement of the Salzburg region from the earliest times. During the Hallstatt period (approx. 1000-450 BC) the salt found at Dürrnberg near Hallein was mined and an important trade developed, leading to a dense settlement of the area. Salzburg (Juvavum) received its municipal charter under Emperor Claudius (41-54 AD). Around 470: St. Severin came to Salzburg; a monastic community founded. Around 700: St. Rupert came to Salzburg, had St. Peter’s Church built, renovated St. Peter’s monastery and founded a convent on Nonnberg. St. Rupert is considered the founder of modern Salzburg.

8th Century: During the reign of Charlemagne, Salzburg was, for a while, the seat of the dukes of Bavaria, then became a bishopric and later an archbishopric with a rich endowment of land. The most important bishops were St. Virgil and St. Arno. The first cathedral, built by St. virgil, numbered among the largest in the Frankish kingdom. 1077: Work began on Hohensalzburg Fortress on the site of a Roman military camp. 1167: Frederick Barbarossa outlawed Salzburg and burned (most of) it to the ground. This was followed by a rebuilding program, including a magnificent new cathedral and intense artistic activity. 13th Century: Construction of city walls, consolidation and development of the province under the prince-archbishops. Artistic activity, encouraged by a bourgeoisie, grew tremendously through long-distance trade.

Mazardt’s Mad Genius Salzburg was once under siege by enemy forces during the peasant insurrections around 1285. The massive stone walls of the town were virtually impregnable, so the enemy had to find another way to conquer it. They planned to let the town starve until it was willing to surrender and encircled it with troops to prevent anyone from entering or leaving. The Salzburg residents soon understood the enemy’s intent. Although they had always relied on their fortifications until then, the situation caused them great concern. If the siege persisted, great famine would break out. Mazardt, the town’s commander, ordered his citizens to observe a strict fast. But one day only a single bull was left that had not been butchered. It was a white bull with brown spots and was huge, well-nourished, and healthy.

Mazardt, in one example of his mad genius, devised a means of fooling the enemy. In the early morning hours, the bull was driven onto the bastion so that it was readily visible to the enemy to indicate that the Salzburg population was far from starving. That night, the Salzburg citizens painted the spotted bull completely white, only to display it to the enemy again the next morning. On the third morning, a pitch-black bull strolled up and down the fortress wall. The enemy troops gazed in astonishment, thinking the town was still well-stocked, gave up hope and secretly retreated in the dark of night. There was great rejoicing throughout the town. The citizens led the bull down to the Salzach and washed it until the brown spots on its coat became visible again. Ever since this time, Salzburg residents have been known as “Stierwascher” (Bullwashers). The Salzach River: The lifeblood of the city

The Salzach is an important transport route for salt, the “white gold of the mountains” as is, above all, the Steingasse which is seen as the main point of entry for the heavy daily consignments of salt arriving from Hallein in the south, as the horse drawn vehicles rumble through the narrow “Steintor” gate. In addition, this is the most popular route taken to the mountains and on towards Italy, thus a significant north-south medieval trading route! Many other traditional jobs and trades are also carried out in the narrow lane: Dockers, potters, dyers and tanners are based here due to the necessity of water for their trades, and nearly every one of the impressive buildings has access to the Salzach and has magnificent gardens in what is known as the Imbergstrasse.

Salt: Worth its weight in gold However mundane and unexciting this very “normal” mineral may appear, its history is quite spectacular. It is a tale going back thousands of years and is very closely interwoven with the history of Salzburg.

For over 4,000 years salt has been continually mined in the surroundings of Salzburg. And, as is to be expected, the River Salzach served for centuries as one of the most important and safest routes for the transportation of this “white” gold from the mountains. This seemingly tiny and insignificant looking mineral is, in the year 1332, considered as valuable as gold, and only the very rich have it. Peasants will most likely never have a pinch of salt to flavor more than one dish in their lifetime. And, since rich deposits of salt are relatively rare, its existence is a veritable gold mine for a city-state such as Salzburg. The wealth of sovereigns and states increased thanks to the exploitation of such salt deposits. Salt is a useful instrument of political power and a major tax source. The archbishops of Salzburg have almost always been skillful in marketing the locally won salt and their income helps provide the basis for the present day affluence and splendor of the city.

The Schnürlregen The fact that Salzburg lies on the northern side of the Alps cannot be ignored, and because of this location it is provided with a temperate rainy climate. The infamous Salzburger Schnürlregen, or “string rain,” appears as a result of North accumulation and föhn, which has a tendency to develop throughout the Alpine chain.

The Salzburger Schnürlregen is a sudden downpour which comes from out of the blue on account of a particular wind pattern. The rain pours from the sky in slanted lines, is soon over, and finally illuminates this lovely city in a whitewashed, spectacular sunlight.

The Untersberg No other mountain in the Alps can compare to the way that the Untersberg suddenly rises out of the swampy ground with its dark rocks and forests, which have given rise to many legends, myths and sagas.

The mountain is penetrated by a gigantic system of caves, not all of which have been thoroughly explored. Goblins and dwarves are rumored to have hoarded vast treasures in the depths of the mountain, and its forests are thought to give shelter to primeval giants and witches of unsurpassed beauty and magical powers, who richly reward any service rendered. The ‘Wilde Jagd’, drifting spirits, have also chosen the Untersberg as their abode. The most popular legend maintains that Empereror Charlemagne is not dead, but is asleep inside the mountain and will awaken when ravens cease to circle around the summit.


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