A Brief History of Salzburg

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We’re keen on learning a little about the places we go, and think it’s important to know.  Here’s a brief history of Salzburg, so you can get a little idea of the history there before you go

Early History

Salzburg was formed as a city in around 15AD.  It was founded by the Romans, as the villages that were scattered in the region came together to form the town.  For hundreds of years, wars were fought between the Bavarians and the Austrians over the territory of Salzburg.

The major fortress of the city, Festung Hohensalzburg, was built by one of the Archbishops of the town during the 11th century.  Salzburg became quite an influential town throughout much of the middle ages.  This was primarily due to monasteries that were set up in the region, which sent missionaries further afield into Hungary and Croatia.

The ruling powers of Salzburg remained interchangeable until the early part of the 20th century.  Salzburg officially became part of the Austrian nation at the end of World War One.

World War Two

Salzburg was relatively stable from the end of the First World War right up until 1938.  In 1938, just prior to the outbreak of World War Two, Germany invaded Austria.  Hitler and his Nazis used Salzburg as a base for their holding camps for the Roma or Gypsy people of Eastern Europe. These people were forced to wait in these camps until they could be transported to extermination camps in Germany and Poland.

Like most of Europe during World War Two, Salzburg saw a lot of conflict and destruction. Multiple Allied bombing raids during the back half of the war destroyed almost 50% of the town’s infrastructure, including its two main bridges and cathedral. Amazingly, the vast majority of the baroque style buildings in the old town escaped the attacks, which means it is one of only a few cities in Central Europe that has managed to keep its original architecture.

Post World War Two

Since World War Two, Salzburg has remained relatively untouched and conflict free.  These days it is enjoyed and frequented by tourists all year round. People come to explore the Hohensalzburg fortress, which overlooks the city and has great views down over the old town. Others come to just wander the streets of the Old Town or through the Mirabell Palace Gardens.  And of course, many come to see the city that was the setting for The Sound of Music. There’s plenty to do, and lots of history that you can discover.