Historic Centre of the city of Salzburg

Salzburg is of exceptional universal value as an important example of a European ecclesiastical city-state which preserves to a remarkable degree its dramatic townscape, its historically significant urban fabric, and a large number of outstanding ecclesiastical and secular buildings from several centuries.

It has preserved an extraordinarily rich urban fabric, developed from the Middle Ages to the 19th century when it was a city-state ruled by a prince-archbishop.

Salzburg is rich in buildings from the Gothic period onwards, which combine to create a townscape and urban fabric of great individuality and beauty.

The cathedral (St Rupert and St Virgil) is the pre-eminent ecclesiastical building and the spiritual city centre.

Archaeological excavations during the reconstruction following severe bomb damage in the Second World War have revealed much about the predecessors of the present building, back to its foundation in the 8th century as a three-aisled basilica.

The second cathedral, in the same form but much enlarged, was built in 1181, but this was virtually destroyed by fire in 1598, to be replaced by the present structure.

The historic centre of Salzburg contains all the key elements that define the ecclesiastical city-state.

The overall coherence is vulnerable to the adverse impact of new developments in the buffer zone and setting.

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 1,972metre-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. On the left bank of the river the Getreidegasse with its world-famous wrought-iron guild signs is already waiting for you.

You can stroll and shop in Salzburg’s best-known shopping street to your hearts’ content.

Numerous traditional cafés serve delicious Austrian desserts here.

The abbey of St. Peter with its cemetery is also worth a visit, as is an inspection of the catacombs.

The glorious Salzburg Cathedral is now only a few steps away. The historic centre of Salzburg is small enough to walk across within a short time.

The city of Salzburg – and especially its historic city center – is in fact one of the loveliest places in Europe, winning international acclaim in 1997 when it was designated a world heritage site by UNESCO.

The Old City is picturesquely surrounded by the Mönchsberg, crowned by the Fortress which is visible for miles, and the mighty Capuchin Mountain on the right banks of the river.

Salzburg residents find the term “mountain” slightly exaggerated since both of the city’s mountains have extensive walking paths to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city for a few hours.

A mountain walk is very worthwhile since it affords one of the loveliest panoramic “postcard views” of the city.

The Old City with its variety of building styles is a true architectural delight, also a result of the city’s strict preservation laws.

A walk through the countless narrow streets (the most famous being the Getreidegasse, Judengasse, Goldgasse, Kaigasse, Linzergasse and Steingasse) features buildings from the Middle Ages, Romanesque, Baroque and Renaissance periods as well as the elegant classical burghers’ houses dating from the monarchy.

Hardly any age failed to leave its architectural imprint on Salzburg.

The city’s most famous squares include Residence Square with its splendid fountain, the neighboring Old Market, University Square, as well as Mozart Square with the memorial of the city’s genius loci.

The square also features the city’s most central Tourist Information Office.