“The hills are alive with the sound of music….” sings Julie Andrews who plays Maria Von Trapp, a novice candidate at a Benedictine Convent in Salzburg, Austria in the 1965 movie blockbuster “The Sound of Music”. The hills of Salzburg are indeed alive as the song suggested with breathtaking views of the hills and mountains surrounding the city, tempting those visiting this wonderful city to burst into a song in expression of its magnificent beauty! A lovely picturesque countryside portrays Salzburg as a wondrous paradise and a perfect destination for a holiday escapade especially for those who enjoy hiking and walking along its magnificent mountains and spectacular landscapes.
Located in the north of the Alps and within close proximity to Germany, Salzburg lies in the heart of Austria. Being a predominantly mountainous region and situated on both banks of the Salzach River, the city is bounded by two steep hills, the Kapuzinerberg (left bank) and the Monchsberg (right bank). Not only famous for its spectacular views, the hills in Salzburg are also famous for its numerous walking, hiking, biking and climbing routes as well as a rich history bringing visitors right into the heart of its beautiful scenery, history and architectural aspects of Salzburg.
Situated at the south is one of the most popular attractions in Salzburg, the Untersburg Mountain which partly stretches into Germany making it a natural border between the two countries. Being one of the biggest mountains near Salzburg, it is easily accessible by cable car which operates all year round from the district of St Leonhard, taking walkers, skiers and other passengers’ right up to Geiereck Peak. Upon reaching the peak, visitors will be mesmerized by stunning aerial views of the Salzburg valley and the city itself. From there, visitors can also catch a glimpse of the Eagle’s Nest or Kehlsteinhaus on the German side in the Berchtesgaden region, Adolf Hitler’s holiday resort which is now opened to visitors.
The rocky wall of the Untersberg makes it the ideal destination for rock climbing, hiking and paragliding enthusiasts with its challenging climbing routes, ice caves and mountain paths in abundance. At the top of the station, visitors get to rest their tired bodies after experiencing a scenic walk through the mountains by refreshing themselves with a cold drink and a bite to eat at some of the cosy shelters set up along the routes. The mountain is also extremely popular among visitors during the winter months as it serves as the one of the best skiing destination, cross-country skiing as well as winter hiking.
Over at the northern end of the Alps is the Kapuzinerberg Mountain. Standing at a height of 636 metres, it is the highest hill in the city. The mountain, which used to be known as the Imberg, has a long history dating as far back as 1000 BC, has been known to be inhabited since the Stone Age especially at the lower eastern slopes of the mountain. Some of the main attractions on the mountain are the Capuchin Monastery, which was built by Prince Archbishop Wolfgang Dietrich von Raitenau to accommodate the monks of the Kapuziner order in 1594.
The monastery, built on the plateau is based on a simple and modest architecture which complies with the rules of the order. Despite its simple and plain exterior, the monastery offers a stark contrast amidst the surrounding forest and can be visible from afar. Besides offering some of the most popular jogging routes and walking paths, the hills is also rich in flora and fauna making itself home to some of the country’s rare birds as well as a habitat ground for a small colony of chamois.
Another popular hill in Salzburg is the Mönchsberg, where local residents often escape to in search for peace and tranquility away from the bustling city life. This mountain not only offers magnificent views of Salzburg and the surrounding cities but also features one of the most striking landmarks on top of the mountain which is the Hohensalzburg Fortress. Hailed as one of the mightiest fortress in central Europe, it is undoubtedly the most prominent feature of the city’s skyline. First built in 1077 by Prince Archbishop Eberhard, it initially served as a protection ground for imperial troops of the Holy Roman Empire. The fortress is definitely built in the most ideal location as its position enables anyone to view the entire surroundings of Salzburg and the Salzach River better than anywhere else in the entire city.