It is impossible to travel to Salzburg without seeing the large castle perched on top of the hill in the middle of town. No matter where you go in the older part of town, its presence is looming down upon you, and it just begs you to go and see what it is all about. It is probably the single tourist spot in town, and at the same time it is a little scary because it requires a hike up the hill to visit it.
In reality, the hill is not that bad to hike up, and it only takes ten minutes, but it will still wind a person who is not in the best of shape. But for those who wish to take the easy way up, there is a funicular that can be taken to reach the summit, and it is part of the ticket price to make it back down so you do not need to do damage on your knees as you make your way down.
It is worth getting up there either way because not only does it offer the best views of the city, but it is also a pretty interesting place to see. It was designed by a series of bishops in the year 1077 as way of protecting the people of Salzburg against an eminent attack. That attack never came, and over the years they continued to add to the fortress with the latest edition coming in 1991 when they updated the funicular to make access more easy.
Despite the ground of the fortress which transports you back to medieval times and it still used for celebrations during the holiday season, it is a great place to learn what life was like during this time. It boasts of a small chapel where the bishops went to worship, a blacksmith room, an organ that woke the people of Salzburg up every morning, a torture chamber that just held devices of torture but were never used against an individual, a dungeon, and a wall that you can walk through to get various views of the expanse of Salzburg and the surrounding hillside. There were also quarters that were built so they could hold the prince in safety and eventually they added spaces for cannons that could be used to defend the city.
There are also a couple of museums housed within its walls. One of them is interactive and is a lot of fun for kids who come visit the fortress. My favorite part of this section was a series of cannons that were pointed at the fortress and you would aim them to see if you get hit the fortress and which part you hit. Despite its digital game like quality, it was very informative and told me a lot about the place I was visiting. The other museum was a little weird. It held a lot of different artifacts collected over the years, and some of them made sense. When they started talking about World War I and World War II, I started to wonder why these things were collected in this place considering they had nothing to do with this fortress. The informative signs were a little strange as well. They were either written by a ten year old as report on the things he was seeing, or a real bad poet that was trying to write like the same ten year old. Though they were informative, the information they gave was kind of obvious and made for a bigger laugh than actually giving insight.
Despite this little flaw, overall this is a must see place while visiting Salzburg, and demonstrates how important this city has been to the growth of Austria, and Europe as a whole. It not only shows how a stronghold can defend a population, but also gives insight to the time period in which it was created.