Salzburg's "Old Town" is internationally renowned for its baroque architecture and is one of the best-preserved city centers north of the Alps. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. The city has three universities and a large population of students. Tourists also visit Salzburg to tour the historic center and the scenic Alpine surroundings.
Salzburg was the birthplace of 18th-century composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In the mid‑20th century, the city was the setting for the musical play and film The Sound of Music.
Traces of human settlements have been found in the area, dating to the Neolithic Age. The first settlements in Salzburg continuous with the present were apparently by the Celts around the 5th century BC.
Around 15 BC the Roman Empire merged the settlements into one city. At this time, the city was called "Juvavum" and was awarded the status of a Roman municipium in 45 AD. Juvavum developed into an important town of the Roman province of Noricum. After the Norican frontiers collapse, Juvavum declined so sharply that by the late 7th century it nearly became a ruin.
The Life of Saint Rupert credits the 8th-century saint with the city's rebirth. When Theodo of Bavaria asked Rupert to become bishop c. 700, Rupert reconnoitered the river for the site of his basilica. Rupert chose Juvavum, ordained priests, and annexed the manor Piding. Rupert named the city "Salzburg". He traveled to evangelise among pagans.
The name Salzburg means "Salt Castle" (Latin: Salis Burgium). The name derives from the barges carrying salt on the Salzach River, which were subject to a toll in the 8th century as was customary for many communities and cities on European rivers. The Festung Hohensalzburg, the city's fortress, was built in 1077 by Archbishop Gebhard, who made it his residence. It was greatly expanded during the following centuries.
Independence from Bavaria was secured in the late 14th century. Salzburg was the seat of the Archbishopric of Salzburg, a prince-bishopric of the Holy Roman Empire. As the reformation movement gained steam, riots broke out among peasants in the areas in and around Salzburg. The city was occupied during the German Peasants' War, and the archbishop had to flee to the safety of the fortress It was besieged for three months in 1525.
Eventually, tensions were quelled, and the city's independence led to an increase in wealth and prosperity, culminating in the late 16th to 18th centuries under the Prince Archbishops Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau, Markus Sittikus, and Paris Lodron. It was in the 17th century that Italian architects (and Austrians who had studied the Baroque style) rebuilt the city center as it is today along with many palaces.
On 31 October 1731, the 214th anniversary of the 95 Theses, Archbishop Count Leopold Anton von Firmian signed an Edict of Expulsion, the Emigrationspatent, directing all Protestant citizens to recant their non-Catholic beliefs. 21,475 citizens refused to recant their beliefs and were expelled from Salzburg. Most of them accepted an offer by King Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia, traveling the length and breadth of Germany to their new homes in East Prussia. The rest settled in other Protestant states in Europe and the British colonies in America.
In 1772–1803, under archbishop Hieronymus Graf von Colloredo, Salzburg was a centre of late Illuminism.
In 1803, the archbishopric was secularised by Emperor Napoleon; he transferred the territory to Ferdinando III of Tuscany, former Grand Duke of Tuscany, as the Electorate of Salzburg.
In 1805, Salzburg was annexed to the Austrian Empire, along with the Berchtesgaden Provostry.
In 1809, the territory of Salzburg was transferred to the Kingdom of Bavaria after Austria's defeat at Wagram.
After the Congress of Vienna with the Treaty of Munich (1816), Salzburg was definitively returned to Austria, but without Rupertigau and Berchtesgaden, which remained with Bavaria. Salzburg was integrated into the Salzach province and Salzburgerland was ruled from Linz.
In 1850, Salzburg's status was restored as the capital of the Duchy of Salzburg, a crownland of the Austrian Empire. The city became part of Austria-Hungary in 1866 as the capital of a crownland into the Austrian Empire. The nostalgia of the Romantic Era led to increased tourism. In 1892, a funicular was installed to facilitate tourism to the fortress of Hohensalzburg
Following World War I and the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire; Salzburg, as the capital of one of the Austro-Hungarian territories, became part of the new German Austria. In 1918, it represented the residual German-speaking territories of the Austrian heartlands. This was replaced by the First Austrian Republic in 1919, after the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye (1919).
The Anschluss (the occupation and annexation of Austria, including Salzburg, into the Third Reich) took place the 12 March 1938, one day before a scheduled referendum about Austria's independence. German troops moved into the city. Political opponents, Jewish citizens and other minorities were subsequently arrested and deported to concentration camps. The synagogue was destroyed. After Germany invaded the Soviet Union, several POW camps for prisoners from the Soviet Union and other enemy nations were organized in the city.
During the Nazi occupation, a Romani camp was built in Salzburg-Maxglan. It was an Arbeitserziehungslager (work 'education' camp), which provided slave labour to local industry. It also operated as a Zwischenlager (transit camp), holding Roma before their deportation to German extermination camps or ghettos in German-occupied territories in eastern Europe.
Allied bombing destroyed 7,600 houses and killed 550 inhabitants. Fifteen strikes destroyed 46 percent of the city's buildings, especially those around Salzburg train station. Although the town's bridges and the dome of the cathedral were destroyed, much of its Baroque architecture remained intact. As a result, it is one of the few remaining examples of a town of its style. American troops entered Salzburg on 5 May 1945.
In the city of Salzburg, there were several DP Camps following World War II. Among these were Riedenburg, Camp Herzl (Franz-Josefs-Kaserne), Camp Mülln, Bet Bialik, Bet Trumpeldor, and New Palestine. Salzburg was the centre of the American-occupied area in Austria.
After World War II, Salzburg became the capital city of the State of Salzburg (Land Salzburg). On 27 January 2006, the 250th anniversary of the birth of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, all 35 churches of Salzburg rang their bells after 8:00 p.m. (local time) to celebrate the occasion. Major celebrations took place throughout the year.
As of 2017 Salzburg has a GDP per capita of €46,100, which is greater than Austria’s, and most European countries’, average.
Salzburg is on the banks of the Salzach River, at the northern boundary of the Alps. The mountains to Salzburg's south contrast with the rolling plains to the north. The closest alpine peak, the 1,972‑metre-high Untersberg, is less than 16 kilometres (10 miles) from the city centre. The Altstadt, or "old town", is dominated by its baroque towers and churches and the massive Festung Hohensalzburg. This area is surrounded by two smaller mountains, the Mönchsberg and Kapuzinerberg, which offer green relief within the city. Salzburg is approximately 150 km (93 mi) east of Munich, 281 km (175 mi) northwest of Ljubljana, Slovenia, and 300 km (186 mi) west of Vienna.
Salzburg is part of the temperate zone. The Köppen climate classification specifies the climate as either oceanic climate (Cfb) or humid continental (Dfb), depending on which isotherm for winter means are used. With the more regular −3 °C (27 °F) one for the coldest month, Salzburg would be a four-season oceanic climate with significant temperature differences between seasons. Due to the location at the northern rim of the Alps, the amount of precipitation is comparatively high, mainly in the summer months. The specific drizzle is called Schnürlregen in the local dialect. In winter and spring, pronounced foehn winds regularly occur.
Salzburg's official population significantly increased in 1935 when the city absorbed adjacent municipalities. After World War II, numerous refugees found a new home in the city. New residential space was constructed for American soldiers of the postwar occupation, and could be used for refugees when they left. Around 1950, Salzburg passed the mark of 100,000 citizens, and in 2006, it reached the mark of 150,000 citizens.
The Romanesque and Gothic churches, the monasteries and the early carcass houses dominated the medieval city for a long time. The Cathedral of Archbishop Conrad of Wittelsbach was the largest basilica north of the Alps. The choir of the Franciscan Church Hall, construction was begun by Hans von Burghausen and completed by Stephan Krumenauer, is one of the most prestigious religious gothic constructions of southern Germany. At the end of the Gothic era the Collegiate church "Nonnberg", Margaret Chapel in St. Peter's Cemetery, the St. George's Chapel and the stately halls of the "Hoher Stock" in the Hohensalzburg Castle were constructed.
Inspired by Vincenzo Scamozzi, Prince Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau began to transform the medieval town to the architectural ideals of the late Renaissance. Plans for a massive cathedral by Scamozzi failed to materialize upon the fall of the archbishop. A second cathedral planned by Santino Solari rose as the first early Baroque church in Salzburg. It served as an example for many other churches in Southern Germany and Austria. Markus Sittikus and Paris von Lodron continued to rebuild the city with major projects such as Hellbrunn Palace, the prince archbishop's residence, the university buildings, fortifications, and many other buildings. Giovanni Antonio Daria managed by order of Prince Archbishop Guido von Thun the construction of the residential well. Giovanni Gaspare Zuccalli, by order of the same archbishop, created the Erhard and the Kajetan church in the south of the town. The city's redesign was completed with buildings designed by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, donated by Prince Archbishop Johann Ernst von Thun.
After the era of Ernst von Thun, the city's expansion came to a halt, which is the reason why there are no churches built in the rococo style. Sigismund von Schrattenbach continued with the construction of "Sigmundstor" and the statue of holy Maria on the cathedral square. With the fall and division of the former "Fürsterzbistums Salzburg" (Archbishopric) to Upper Austria, Bavaria (Rupertigau) and Tyrol (Zillertal Matrei) began a long period of urban stagnancy. This era didn't end before the period of promoterism (Gründerzeit) brought new life into urban development. The builder dynasty Jakob Ceconi and Carl Freiherr von Schwarz filled major positions in shaping the city in this era.
Buildings of classical modernism and in particular the post-war modernism are frequently encountered in Salzburg. Examples are the Zahnwurzen house (a house in the Linzergasse 22 in the right center of the old town), the "Lepi" (a public baths in Leopoldskron) (built 1964) and the original 1957 constructed congress center of Salzburg, which was replaced by a new building in 2001. An important and famous example of architecture of this era is the 1960 opening of the Großes Festspielhaus by Clemens Holzmeister.
Adding contemporary architecture to Salzburg's old town without risking its UNESCO World Heritage status is problematic. Yet some new structures have been added: the Mozarteum at the baroque Mirabell garden (Architecture Robert Rechenauer), the 2001 Congress house (Architecture: Freemasons), the 2011 Unipark Nonntal (Architecture: Storch Ehlers partners), the 2001 "Makartsteg" bridge (Architecture: HALLE1), and the "Residential and studio house" of the architects Christine and Horst Lechner in the middle of Salzburg's old town (winner of the architecture award of Salzburg 2010). Other examples of contemporary architecture lie outside the old town: the Faculty of Science building (Universität Salzburg – Architecture Willhelm Holzbauer) built on the edge of free green space, the blob architecture of Red Bull Hangar‑7 (Architecture: Volkmar Burgstaller) at Salzburg Airport, home to Dietrich Mateschitz's Flying Bulls and the Europark shopping mall. (Architecture: Massimiliano Fuksas)
Salzburg has twenty-four urban districts and three extra-urban populations.
Urban districts (Stadtteile):
Extra-urban populations (Landschaftsräume):
Salzburg is a tourist favourite, with the number of tourists outnumbering locals by a large margin in peak times. In addition to Mozart's birthplace noted above, other notable places include:
Outside the Old Town
Greater Salzburg area
Salzburg is a centre of education and home to three universities, as well as several professional colleges and gymnasiums (high schools).
The city is served by comprehensive rail connections, with frequent east–west trains serving Vienna, Munich, Innsbruck, and Zürich, including daily high-speed ICE services. The city acts as a hub for south-bound trains through the Alps into Italy.
Salzburg Airport has scheduled flights to European cities such as Frankfurt, Vienna, London, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Brussels, Düsseldorf, and Zürich, as well as Hamburg, Edinburgh and Dublin. In addition to these, there are numerous charter flights.
In the main city, there is the Salzburg trolleybus system and bus system with a total of more than 20 lines, and service every 10 minutes. Salzburg has an S-Bahn system with four Lines (S1, S2, S3, S11), trains depart from the main station every 30 minutes, and they are part of the ÖBB network. Suburb line number S1 reaches the world-famous Silent Night chapel in Oberndorf in about 25 minutes.
In the 1960s, the movie The Sound of Music used some locations in and around Salzburg and the state of Salzburg. The movie was based on the true story of Maria von Trapp, who took up with an aristocratic family and fled the German Anschluss. Although the film is not particularly popular nor well known among Austrians, the town draws many visitors who wish to visit the filming locations, alone or on tours.
Salzburg is the setting for the Austrian crime series Stockinger.
In the 2010 film Knight & Day, Salzburg serves as the backdrop for a large portion of the film.
Austrian German is widely written. Austro-Bavarian is the German dialect of this territory and widely spoken.
The former SV Austria Salzburg reached the UEFA Cup final in 1994. On 6 April 2005 Red Bull bought the club and changed its name into FC Red Bull Salzburg. The home stadium of Red Bull Salzburg is the Wals Siezenheim Stadium in a suburb in the agglomeration of Salzburg and was one of the venues for the 2008 European Football Championship. The FC Red Bull Salzburg plays in the Austrian Bundesliga.
After Red Bull had bought the SV Austria Salzburg and changed its name and team colors, some supporters of the club decided to leave and form a new club with the old name and old colors, wanting to preserve the traditions of their club. The reformed SV Austria Salzburg was founded in 2005 and currently plays in the Erste Liga, only one tier below the Bundesliga.
Red Bull also sponsors the local ice hockey team, the EC Salzburg Red Bulls. The team plays in the Erste Bank Eishockey Liga, an Austria-headquartered crossborder league featuring the best teams from Austria, Hungary, Slovenia and Italy, as well as one Czech team.
Salzburg was a candidate city for the 2010 & 2014 Winter Olympics, but lost to Vancouver and Sochi respectively.