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Hohensalzburg Fortress, Salzburg, Austria

The fortress, accessible by cable car, has a commanding view of Salzburg and the Alps beyond.

Hohensalzburg Fortress in Salzburg, Austria, picture
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Photo: F1online Digitale Bildagentur Gmbh/Alamy
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Hohensalzburg Fortress fended off attacks for 900 years.

Peering up at the towering rock walls of the Hohensalzburg Fortress, one of Europe's largest and best-preserved castles, you can understand why it has never faced serious attack in 900 years. What would be the point?

Built on a commanding hill overlooking Salzburg, Austria, the impenetrable citadel—which has served as a prison, barracks, and home to archbishops—is now open to the world.

A funicular cable car carries visitors to the entrance, a modern way to storm the castle. You can gaze out on fellow invaders from the watchtower, contemplate piety amid the art and statuary in the St. George Chapel, bask in the opulence of the living quarters with their gold-leaf decor, and listen to ancient chords from the 1502 Salzburg Bull, a self-playing organ that works like a giant windup music box. The museum displays medieval armor, swords, gilded furniture, and instruments of punishment.

Look out from a parapet, and the city of Salzburg stretches below you with the Alps beyond. It's a view for the ages, medieval and otherwise.

This article was first published in Spring 2017. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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