Countless spires, three bishop-princes and all the Mozart you could ever want.
Salzburg's Altstadt (old town), on the south bank of the river, is a Baroque fiesta of churches, plazas, courtyards and fountains, oozing the waves of charm that you would expect from this Mozart Mecca. Museums, houses, squares, chocolate bars and liqueurs are all part of one giant homage to Wolfgang.
Salzburg, nestled amid the Alps, has its own, strange, slightly more temperate climate. Winters are freezing, and the rain comes down hard and often. Summers are also quite wet, with above average humidity.
Pre 20th Century History
Salzburg was built on mining, of both gold and salt, although salt (the so-called 'white gold') has always been more important. Salz is German for salt and Salzburg literally means 'Fortress of Salt'.
The city was originally a Celtic settlement and later a Roman trading centre called Juvavum. In about 696 the Frankish missionary St Rupert established a bishopric in Salzburg, which was subsequently made an archbishopric, with authority over the dioceses of Bavaria. Over time the archbishops became increasingly involved in temporal matters and in the 13th century each was granted the title of Prince of the Holy Roman Empire. Wolf Dietrich von Raintenau (1587-1612), one of the most influential archbishops, began the city's reconstruction in the baroque style. Over time, the prince-archbishops became more and more intolerant; in the late 15th century the Jews were expelled and in 1731-32 some 30,000 Protestants migrated to Prussia after a period of severe persecution.
Salzburg managed to stay out of the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) and remained neutral during the War of Austrian Succession a century later, but after that its power and prosperity began to diminish. Salzburg came under completely secular rule in 1802 and during the Napoleonic Wars was controlled by France, and then Bavaria. The 1814 annexation of Salzburg by Austria under the Hapsburgs plunged the city into a recession. This had the benefit, not much enjoyed at the time, of ensuring that the historic buildings in the city centre were preserved, as no one could afford to build anything else.
At the end of World War I the Hapsburg monarchy fell and the old empire was broken up into several smaller new nations. One of these was the Republic of Austria, which was founded on 12 November 1918. The new republic lasted twenty years, until Nazi troops marched into Vienna on 11 March 1938 and made Austria part of the German Reich. A puppet government was installed, and Austrians were conscripted into the German army. During WWII over 40 percent of Salzburg's buildings were destroyed or badly damaged. After Germany lost the war Austria was, on the 27 April 1945, made a separate country again. After 10 years of allied occupation, the country declared its permanent neutrality on 15 May 1955. Austria joined the United Nations in the same year.
Since the 1950s, Salzburg has become a tourist Mecca, thanks mostly to the fact that it was the birthplace, in 1756, of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Although the city didn't pay too much heed to him back then, his image is now used to sell everything from cookies to snowdomes. We may soon be seeing Mozart skis: Salzburg has made a bid to host the 2010 Winter Olympics.