Just a stone´s throw from the busy traffic route of the 21st Century, there´s the ancient Steingasse, nestled between the foot of the hill known as the Kapuzinerberg and the Salzach river, which to this day has wholly retained its medieval charm!
The Salzach was an important transport route for salt, the „white gold of the mountains“ as was, above all, the Steingasse which was seen as the main point of entry for the heavy daily consignments of salt arriving from Hallein in the south, as the horse drawn vehicles rumbled through the narrow “Steintor” gate. In addition, this was the most popular route taken to the mountains and on towards Italy, thus a significant north-south medieval trading route! However, many traditional jobs and trades were carried out in the narrow lane over the centuries. Dockers, potter, dyers and tanners were also based here due to the necessity of water for their trades and, until the Salzach was reengineered in 1862, nearly every one of the impressive buildings, most of which are still standing, had access to the Salzach and had magnificent gardens in what is now the Imbergstrasse.
However, this wasn´t always a peaceful place and the sounds of weapons and war cry echoed around the ancient walls a number of times. It is said that during the Farmers´ Wars in 1525 Archbishop Matthäus Lang and his rebels from Pinzgau stormed the city through the outer „Steintor“ (no longer there), the existing inner “Steintor”, built in 1280, and thus one of the oldest stones arch gates in Salzburg, had to be greatly extended and fortified by Archbishop Paris Graf Lodron in 1634 to defend the city from the threat caused by enemies of the Archbishopric during the Thirty Years´ War.
Today, a stroll along the Steingasse is a leisurely affair best enjoyed in the late morning, when the sun creates a unique atmosphere as it lights up the facades of these old buildings. Right at the start coming from the „Platzl“, there´s a memorial plate at number 9 to mark the birthplace of Joseph Mohr on the 11th December 1792, then man who wrote the lyrics for probably the most beautiful yuletide song ever written - "Silent Night, Holy Night”. Next to it is a long dark stairway between the houses which leads up towards the light of the Kapuzinerberg in the distance; well worth the effort as the reward is one of the most beautiful views of the city on this side of the river! Hidden in a corner halfway up the so-called Kapuzinerstiege or Imbergstiege, there´s the tiny enchanting St. Johann am Imberg church, which the Mozart children loved to visit.
After passing through the inner „Steintor“ there´s another magnificent view of the fortress „Festung Hohensalzburg“ on the right, and an interesting peek down the lane at its attractive, authentically renovated buildings, the green of the Kapuzinerberg and numerous small shops, bars, bookshops and galleries. At the other end of the lane where the outer gate used to be (now called "Am Äußeren Stein") there´s the impressive marble fountain in the wall known as the "Engelwirtsbrunnen", originally installed in 1660 in front of what was then the "Engelwirt" inn in the Steingasse, and which has been in its present location since 1890.