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Salzburg History, Austria

Human settlement in the Salzburg region dates back to the Neolithic times and there are definite proofs that during the Iron Age, small Celtic settlements mushroomed in different parts of the present-day Salzburg city. However, it was not until the arrival of the Romans that these separate Celtic communities were united; that was back in 15 BC and the new city was named Iuvavum. Iuvavum enjoyed the status of a Roman municipium and was an important town of the Roman Noricum province. The decline of the Roman Empire, however, weakened Iuvavum and the process of decay set in.

History Of Salzburg – 7th Century To 14th Century

By the end of the 7th century the once flourishing city was nearly ruined and it was in this devastated state that Saint Rupert received it as a gift from the Duke of Bavaria. Saint Rupert established St. Peter's Abbey and named the city Salzburg. The city’s first bishop remains the city’s patron saint even to this day.

Construction of the city’s fortress, Festung Hohensalzburg, began sometimes in 1077; expansion work continued even in the following centuries.

One, two incidents that occurred in the 14th century changed the fate of the city…first the city was hit by a deadly plague that took many lives and then in the later half of the century, the city seceded from Bavaria and became the seat of the archbishopric of Salzburg, a prince-bishopric within the Holy Roman Empire.

History Of Salzburg – 14th Century To 18th Century

The following centuries in the history of Salzburg were very eventful. The Jews were expelled from the city towards the end of the 15th century (in 1492) and in the first quarter of the 16th century, Salzburg became the scene of social unrest with the local peasantry seeking reforms.

The 17th century was particularly significant in the history of Salzburg as the city went underwent all-round progress. The city’s magnificent landmarks –its Baroque churches and palaces – belong to this period.

The 18th century saw the proclamation of the Edict of Expulsion when the Archbishop of Salzburg Leopold Anton Freiherr von Firmian signed the edict, directing the Protestants either to renounce their non-Catholic faiths or face expulsion. Over 20000 Salzburgers were evicted for professing/endorsing Protestant-beliefs. They were forced to sell their land, property and other belongings for little or no money and were ordered to leave the land. The refugees had to face many hardships.

History Of Salzburg – 19th And 20th Centuries

In 1803, Napoleon took away the secular power of the Prince Archbishops and in the following years the city changed hands several times – going to Austria and then being annexed to Bavaria repetitively. In 1850, the city of Salzburg became a part of the Austrian Empire and was made the capital of the Duchy of Salzburg. In 1866, Salzburg became a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The initial years of the 20th century were tumultuous and then the World War I happened, resulting in the splitting of the Austrian Empire. In 1918, Salzburg was made a part of German Austria and in the following year it became a part of the First Austrian Republic. Salzburg Festival was celebrated for the first time in 1920 and soon the city became a cultural and social center. In 1938, the whole of Austria, including Salzburg, became a part of Nazi Germany. The following years saw the merciless killing and persecution of Jews and political opponents.

Salzburg witnessed plenty of action during World War II. While it was the location of the KZ Salzburg-Maxglan concentration camp, it was also the scene of allied air strikes. About 7600 buildings were destroyed by allied bombings but astonishingly its Baroque structures remained unscathed. US troops marched into Salzburg on May 5, 1945 and the city was occupied by them for sometime.

Although the ugly scars of the World Wars are still evident, the city has made considerable progress. The city’s Baroque structures brought it the recognition of a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 1997; but the city is as much a city of the future as a city rich in culture and heritage.

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  • WazlingWhy go to Salzburg
    review by Wazling posted more then 30 days ago
    Salzburg is a really nice city, historically and because of the sights. First thing probably everybody knows, it's the birthplace of Mozart, the famous composer. Because of that fact it's also the place where you can find the sweets 'Mozart Kugeln'. The things you should look at are the castle...
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Read our members' travel tips about Salzburg

  • WazlingCastle Hohensalzburg
    travel tip by Wazling posted more then 30 days ago
    If you are at Salzburg, thereĀ“s not only the fact interesting that Mozart was born there. Also the medieval castle Hohensalzburg, built in 1077, is really worth to see. The outer facilities can be watched by yourself, for the inner...
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Salzburg City Ratings

  • Rating71%
    City Rank213
  • History & Culture: rated for 100%
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  • Outdoors Activities: rated for 80%
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  • Public Transportation: rated for 60%
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