Franziskischlössl: Tiny Castle with a View

The Franziskischlössl ("Francis′ Castle", with a diminutive indicating that it is a small castle) is a defence tower that was part of the 17th century city walls of Salzburg. The Franziskischlössl is situated at the most exposed point of Mount Kapuzinerberg, home to an inn and a very popular hiking trip destination.

The so-called Basteiweg takes hikers from the Old Town of Salzburg along the three kilometres of very well-preserved Kapuzinerberg fortifications and city walls, across the hill and up to the Franziskischlössl. From there, you can either walk back to complete the circle or you descend back to the city, in which case you would end up in the area of Schallmoos, from where you could take bus back to the city centre.

The Franziskischlössl owes its existence Prince Archbishop Paris Lodron, who realised during the 30-Years-War that Salzburg was badly fortified and therefore "accessible like a village", has he phrased it. In response, Paris Lodron increased taxes dramatically and used the tax revenue to vamp out the most extensive array of walls, gates and towers of any city in Central Europe.

Tax for Fortifications: Franziskischlössl as a trade-off

The high taxes cause social riots and starvation, but Salzburg was never attacked in the course of the 30-Years-War. This means quite something, given that the city was the capital of a Catholic principality at the centre of a (partly) religious war, during which neighbouring Bavaria lost one third of its population. The Franziskischlössl was built in 1629 and secured the Kapuzinerberg, but also the valley between Fürberg and Kühberg mountains.

It was the biggest fortified facility on the Kapuzinerberg and dedicated to St. Francis. In the end, Salzburg was so heavily fortified that nobody dared to attack until the Napoleonic Wars and due to the neat location, the Franziskischlössl could also serve as a hunting chateaux, especially for Prince Archbishop Max Gandolf von Kuenburg in the late 17th century.

Until today, there is a group of chamois (goat-like creatures) that inhabits the Kapuzinerberg. Not the only unusual life forms on this hill; during the last ice age, the Kapuzinerberg stood out of the glaciers like an island, which is the reason why flora and fauna are very distinct and sometimes resemble high-Alpine ecosystems.

Franziskischlössl beyond its military significance

After Salzburg was secularised, the Franziskischlössl was rented out, even though it remained public property. Until 1848, the little castle shared a fate with many Baroque military buildings it became a private home for retired officers. In 1849, an inn was opened which existed almost continuously since then.

The cistern and some of the defence structures that were carved into the rock still exist today; some of the walls have been dismantled in the 19th century. Some of the iron fences date back to the time of construction in the 17th century. A ditch that once surrounded the castle is only partly preserved.

Hidden Treasures of Salzburg

Official Website of the Franziskischlössl
German Wikipedia on the Franziskischlössl

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