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f. Salzburg and the golden age

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urban history

Salzburg and the golden age
City history until the 18th century!

Thanks to the great number of natural resources Salzburg became one of the most powerful principalities of the empire!

Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau was elected as the Prince Archbishop when he was 28 years old. Profits that resulted from the salt trade and the gold mines allowed him to turn the city Salzburg into a construction site. Thus the construction and reconstruction of many buildings was launched - e.g. the Roman Cathedral, which was completely burnt down at that time. More than 60 town houses were demolished and made room for public squares, which are still appealing to many natives and visitors today. Additionally he built the earlier building of the Castle Mirabell for his beloved Salome Alt and the 15 children they had together. The provision of his own family was important to the Prince.

Known as the founder of the baroque Salzburg, Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau, started a war with the superior Bavaria.  The war was mainly of an economic nature; Salzburg’s salt exports were at the centre of the conflict. At this time, Bavaria, ruled by Duke Maximillian I., was one of the biggest military powers. In 1611 the Prince of the Church was arrested and brought to the fortress Hohensalzburg. He abdicated in 1612 and died five years later in captivity.

The successor of Wolf Dietrich finished the great redesign within the next 200 years and created the incomparable skyline of Salzburg:

Wolf Dietrich’s nephew, Markus Sittikus von Hohenems, played the gallery when replanning and building the cathedral, which was supposed to become the first early-baroque building in the north of the Alps. He was also in charge of the first opera performances. After only four years of construction, in 1613, he finished the unique Lustschloss Heilbronn; the construction followed certain Roman models and the sparkling fountains still work perfectly today.

Paris Graf von Lodron finished the cathedral and initiated an extensive fortification programme in the city; the Thirty Years War seemed to be just around the corner. The consecration of the cathedral in 1628 was host to the biggest feast that Salzburg had ever experienced. It took over a week. Furthermore Paris Graf von Lodron founded the first university in the city.

Prince Archbishop Guidobald Graf von Thun und Hohenstein designed the imposing Residenzbrunnen in the centre of the old town of Salzburg. The demonstration of the fountain in 1661 was a complete flop: the water pipes were overloaded with pressure and exploded. Thus the fountain was out of order for the next 40 years.

His youngest brother Ernst also occupied the post of the archbishop. Johann Bernhard Fischer was considered to be one of the best architects in the Baroque. In 1700 he let his artistic imagination run free. Under the direction of Archbishop Ernst, Fischer planned the Dreifaltigkeitskirche, the Kollegienkirche, the Ursulinenkirche, the St. Johanns-Spitals-Kirche and the Castle Klessheim, which is a casino today. In order to demonstrate his economic power Ernst von Thun und Hohenstein had the glockenspiel installed, which is still in use today and a reason of pride for the people of Salzburg.

Salzburg remained a tough area to live in for Protestants. In 1732, under the rule of Archbishop Leopold Anton Reichsfreiherr von Firmian, about 20.000 Protestants were forced to leave the country.  Banishing so many innocent people made the Archbishop quite unpopular in the neighbouring states. At least he left alone the Castle Leopoldskron and the pond that goes with it. Walkers are still delighted today by the splendour of the castle - even if they just get to look at it from the outskirts of the city.

In 1756 Mozart was born. Mozart is the reason why Salzburg is also called the Mozart-town today; the people of Salzburg recognized quickly that someone this musically talented would have a high advertising value. It is assumed that Mozart was fired from his archiepiscopal duties in Salzburg. However he benefited from the dismissal and began his meteoric musical career in Vienna.

In order to iron out transport issues the gate Sigmunds- and Neutor was created ten years later. Today the debate is on whether this tunnel, the third oldest urban tunnel in the world, which leads straight through the Mönchsberg, should be shut down once and for all. Apparently visions and ideas about ideal transport connections have changed.

Hieronymus Count Colloredo von Waldsee und Mels, the last Prince Arcbishop, led the country and the city Salzburg through the age of the Enlightenment. He prohibited everything that had an entertainment value. Carnival lovers, who are enthusiastic about pompous parades, would have been deeply disappointed in his term of office.

Still he reformed the school system and encouraged the development of sciences, literature and the media. Alexander von Humboldt visited Salzburg at this time because he wanted to apply himself to the library of the scientist Freiherr von Moll.

At some point Colloredo had to flee from the troops of Napoleon that were approaching.


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