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A wheat field with scattered poppies and the Hohensalzburg Castle in the background.
Hohensalzburg Castle (German: Festung Hohensalzburg, literally “High Salzburg Fortress”) is a castle in the Austrian city of Salzburg, atop the Festungsberg mountain. Erected at the behest of the Prince-Archbishops of Salzburg, it today with a length of 250 m (820 ft) and a width of 150 m (490 ft), is one of the largest medieval castles in Europe.
One of the earliest depictions of the castle in the 1460’s, from the Schedel’sche Weltchronik
Construction of the fortress began in 1077 under Archbishop Gebhard von Helfenstein. This original design was just a basic bailey with a wooden wall. In the Holy Roman Empire, the Salzburg Archbishops already were powerful political figures, and they expanded the castle to protect their interests. Gebhard’s conflict with Emperor Henry IV during the Investiture Controversy influenced the expansion of the castle, with the Archbishop taking the side of Pope Gregory VII and the German anti-king Rudolf of Rheinfelden. The castle was gradually expanded during the following centuries. The ring walls and towers were built in 1462 under Prince-Archbishop Burkhard II von Weißpriach.
Prince-Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach during his term from 1495 until 1519 further expanded the castle. His coadjutor Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, who was later to succeed Leonhard, in 1515 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.12
The only time that the fortress actually came under siege was during the Peasants’ War in 1525, when a group of miners, farmers and townspeople tried to oust Prince-Archbishop Matthäus Lang, but failed to take the castle. In 1612 the deposed Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau died here in prison. During the Thirty Years’ War, Archbishop 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 to French troops under General Jean Victor Marie Moreau during the Napoleonic War of the Second Coalition in 1800 and the last Prince-Archbishop Count Hieronymus von Colloredo fled to Vienna. In the 19th century, it was used as barracks, storage depot and dungeon before being abandoned as a military outpost in 1861.
 Recent history
Hohensalzburg was refurbished from the late 19th century onwards and became a major tourist attraction, with the Festungsbahn cable car, opened in 1892, leading up from the town to the Hasengrabenbastei. It stands today as one of the best preserved castles in Europe.
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.
The Hohensalzburg was recently selected as main motif for the Austrian Nonnberg Abbey commemorative coin minted on 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.
*Photograph taken with Nikon D7000, 55-200mm Nikkor lens @ 125mm, iso250, f/4.8, handheld. HDR created from 3 bracketed exposures (-2,0,+2), tonemapped in Photomatix. Final processing in PS CS4.
Image added on 7th of June, 2011