5 Reasons To Visit Hohenwerfen Fortress in Salzburg

Castles perched on hilltops are what inspire me to explore and write about so many places in Europe. They’re straight out of my favorite fantasy movies, and I never get tired of seeing them.

If we share interests and you are planning a trip to Salzburg, then Hohenwerfen Fortress should definitely be on your itinerary. Simply, this stunning 900-year-old castle is one of the most beautiful in all of Austria!

Most importantly, Hohenwerfen Castle is more than just a stunning medieval structure and there are five reasons why it is worth visiting. In this post, I’ll share them with you together with some tips and information to help you plan your trip, so let’s get started!

Hohenwerfen Fortress is an 11th-century castle perched on a 623-meter-high cliff in Werfen, a town 40 kilometers south of Salzburg.

Built by the prince-archbishops, it is also known as the “sister” of Hohensalzburg Fortress (Learn more: Visiting Salzburg Fortress Hohensalzburg: What To Do Inside)

Today, Hohenwerfen Fortress is considered one of the top tourist destinations in Salzburg outside the city; an eye-catching landmark of the Salzach Valley; and an enchanting sight that can make your fantasies come to life.

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Hohenwerfen Fortress with the Alps in the backdrop, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
Hohenwerfen Fortress with the Alps in the backdrop
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Surrounded by the Berchtesgaden Alps and Tennen Mountains, Hohenwerfen Fortress offers breathtaking scenery that will inspire you to pull out your camera and take photos. 

Maximize your Salzburg adventure by checking out these Salzburg Travel Inspiration posts. They’ll help you find the perfect experiences to suit your preferences

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10 Unique Things to Do in Salzburg, Austria

The Beauty of Salzburg: 7 Beautiful Things to See

5 Spots In Salzburg to see Sunset or Sunrise (With a Map)

20 Sights and Landmarks in Salzburg: History & Architecture

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Should You Visit Hohenwerfen Fortress?

With the nostalgic and scenic appearance of Hohenwerfen Fortress, as a wanderer, it’s a place you’ll truly love to see. 

However, Hohenwerfen Fortress is more than a picturesque magical scene in the Alps.

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Hohenwerfen Fortress in the midst of low-lying clouds, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
Hohenwerfen Fortress in the midst of low-lying clouds
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It houses plenty of fascinating things from the medieval ages to uncover and it has spectacular birds of prey shows you can watch, making a visit to the fortress really worth it.

From what I’ve discovered at Hohenwerfen Fortress, it’s a great place to visit with kids. The exhibits and shows are sure to captivate their imaginations.

But it doesn’t mean that it’s only for kids!

As an adult, visiting Hohenwerfen Fortress is a chance to immerse ourselves in another time and place, just like the movies do, but in real life.

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Different scenes in Hohenwerfen Fortress, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
Different scenes in Hohenwerfen Fortress
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No digital creation, no matter how realistic it may be, can compare to that experience!

If you are a photographer, Hohenwerfen Fortress is a must-see during your trip to Salzburg or Austria.

The fortress offers a variety of photo opportunities, from its small windows to the wide open fortress garden. You will not be disappointed with the number of great shots you can take.

Sadly, there’s a caveat: drones aren’t allowed to fly from the fortress.

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Photo of the Hohenwerfen Fortress from the hilly west side of Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
Photo of the Hohenwerfen Fortress from the hilly west side of Werfen
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Hohenwerfen Fortress may not be as enchanting as Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, as imposing as Carcassonne in France, or as large as Alhambra Palace in Spain, but it is still one of the best castles in Europe and is therefore a compelling destination.

(That’s according to Conde Nast Traveler — see resources section) 

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Here are five reasons why you should visit Hohenwerfen Fortress, along with the things you can experience when you do.

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Reason 1. Rich History: Time Transporting Destination

If you’ve never visited a historical place in the Alps, this 11th-century fortress is a great place to start.

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The view of Salzach Valley and the location of Hohenwerfen Fortress in Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
The view of Salzach Valley and the location of Hohenwerfen Fortress
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Not only does Hohenwerfen Fortress have a long history, but it also has an intriguing past that allows visitors to imagine scenes from bygone eras as they explore the fortress.

Did you know that beyond its fairytale appearance today, Hohenwerfen Fortress is filled with tales of power struggles, rebellion, and imprisonment?

Believe it or not, within the fortress’ walls, even powerful personalities were once held captive.

You can almost hear the echoes of their footsteps as they paced to their cells, plotting their next move or lamenting their fate.

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Ultimate throwback feels with the view of the surroundings from the fortress’ arrow slits and rustic windows, Hohenwerfen Fortress, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
Ultimate throwback feels with the view of the surroundings from the fortress’ arrow slits and rustic windows
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In fact, when exploring the Residential Quarters of Hohenwerfen Fortress, you might come across some intriguing inscriptions on the wall.

These inscriptions date back to 1611 and were left by a famous prisoner from Salzburg, Dietrich von Raitenau — a prince-archbishop of Salzburg!

He was held captive there for three weeks and left his mark on history through these inscriptions.

Aside from Prince Archbishop Dietrich von Raitenau, two notable personalities were also held captive inside Hohenwerfen Fortress: the governor of Styria, and Adalbert III, another prince-archbishop. 

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Fairytale view of Hohenwerfen Fortress, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
Fairytale appearance of Hohenwerfen Fortress
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You can click here to skip to the next reason to visit Hohenwerfen Fortress.

You can read the full history of Hohenwerfen Fortress in the resources section of this post. But, here is a brief overview:

The story of Hohenwerfen Fortress began in the year 1075 when Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg decided to build a strategic bulwark atop a 155-meter high rock.

The fortress was meant to secure the route across the Eastern Alps along the Salzach river against the forces of King Henry IV of Germany during the Imperial Investiture Controversy.

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Imagine you’re in the middle ages, preparing for the fortress’ defense with the cannons, Hohenwerfen Fortress, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
Imagine you’re in the middle ages, preparing for the fortress’ defense with the cannons
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Over the centuries, Hohenwerfen Fortress underwent several modifications to adapt to changing times and circumstances.

Like in the 16th century, when the fortress faced a challenge raised by the riotous farmers and miners from the south of Salzburg.

As they moved towards the city they laid fire and severely damaged the castle. However, the siege failed and the fortress survived.

Matthäus Lang, who was the prince-archbishop of Salzburg at the time, was determined to rebuild Hohenwerfen Fortress.

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Notice the defensive features of the castle’s courtyard of Hohenwerfen Fortress, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
Notice the defensive features of the castle’s courtyard of Hohenwerfen Fortress
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As punishment for supporting a rebellion, he forced the farmers to work on the reconstruction of the fortress.

This event gave Prince Archbishop Johann Kuen-Belasy, the next prince-archbishop, an idea to improve Hohenwerfen Fortress’ defenses.

So, he ordered a massive re-modelling of Hohenwerfen Fortress, importing state-of-the-art know-how from Italy in building fortifications and bastions that should stand firearms and cannons.

Years later, there were more adaptations made to Hohenwerfen, especially during the 30-years-war between 1608 and 1638.

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A special arrow slit in Hohenwerfen Fortress, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
A special arrow slit in Hohenwerfen Fortress
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A gunpowder tower was erected during the reign of Prince Archbishop Paris Lodron in 1623.

However, when Bavaria conquered Salzburg with Napoleonic France, all gun powered weapons in the fortress had to be delivered off from the fortress to French troops.

After the war ended, Salzburg became secularized and city officials debated whether to demolish Hohenwerfen Fortress or repurpose it as a prison.

Luckily, Emperor Franz I of Austria had a fondness for Hohenwerfen and prevented its destruction.

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View of the mountains from Hohenwerfen Fortress’ belfry or courtyard, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
View of the mountains from Hohenwerfen Fortress’ belfry or courtyard
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Despite this, the Bavarians neglected the fortress and left it to decay for many years.

It was not until Hohenwerfen Fortress came under Austrian rule between 1824 and 1833 that it was finally renovated.

Regrettably, Hohenwerfen Fortress was damaged once again in a fire in 1931. Archduke Eugen, who purchased it in 1896, oversaw its reconstruction.

After being rebuilt in 1938, the property was acquired by the province of Salzburg.

During World War II, it was used as a Gauführerschule, a Nazi education camp under the administration of the Gauleiter.

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The castle from Hohenwerfen Fortress’ gardens, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
The castle from Hohenwerfen Fortress’ gardens
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And lastly, before it became a tourist attraction that we can explore today, it remained a civil facility — used as a training camp by the Austrian Gendarmerie (rural police) until 1987.

So, with all these in mind, what do you think you will imagine first when you arrive at Hohenwerfen Fortress?

Is it the furious farmer’s revolt, the dramatic event when prince-archbishops were imprisoned, or the Nazi’s harsh reeducation facilities?

Either way, Hohenwerfen Fortress is indeed a window into a piece of Austria’s history if you ignite your imagination during your visit!

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The top view of Hohenwerfen Fortress and Salzach River, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
The top view of Hohenwerfen Fortress and Salzach River
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As I share more about my discoveries at Hohenwerfen Fortress, you’ll learn about the age and history of the various features and parts of the fortress that you can explore when you visit.

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Reason 2. Medieval Architecture: Straight Out of a Fantasy Novel

Most of Hohenwerfen Fortress may not date back to the 11th century, but its quaint appearance is still captivating.

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One of the beautiful rustic doors in Hohenwerfen Fortress, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
One of the beautiful rustic doors in Hohenwerfen Fortress
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It’s like a real-life version of Disneyland, with its well-preserved medieval architecture making it truly fantastic!

From the fortified gatehouses with portcullises to the thick walls that could withstand cannon fire and the belfry housing ancient bells, it’s a must-see for any fan of fantasy movies like Narnia, Lord of the Rings, King Arthur, Willow, and Warcraft. 

The moment you set foot inside the fortress, the rustic atmosphere will already surround you, even before you see the main parts!

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First and Second Gatehouses

While you can enter the fortress in two ways: by funicular or through the gatehouses, walking through the gatehouses will give you a greater sense of time travel.

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First gatehouse of Hohenwerfen Fortress, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
First gatehouse of Hohenwerfen Fortress
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The dark wooden chalet, the elevated wooden guard’s path, and the garden between the first and second gatehouses are a great introduction to the medieval experiences that await deeper within the fortress.

Before going further into the fortress, take a moment to imagine the gatehouses in their heyday.

The first, secured by three iron-studded gates and a portcullis, dates back to 1641, during the final stages of construction under Prince Archbishop Paris Lodron.

With its five ironclad double-wing doors and portcullis, surely, the gate gave intruders an almost-impossible means to enter the fortress.

If you’re curious, the drive roller for the portcullis can be found in the attic of the porter house.

The second gatehouse, built in 1535 during the time of Archbishop Mathäus Lang, was an additional fortification after part of the fortress was burned down and destroyed during the Peasants’ War

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Garden and Salzach Tower

After passing through the gatehouses, you will arrive at the fortress’s courtyard garden.

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The Hohenwerfen Fortress courtyard garden where the birds of prey show takes place, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
The Hohenwerfen Fortress courtyard garden where the birds of prey show takes place
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Here you’ll see the spectacular view of the mountains, the pointed roof of the tower, and the thick masonry wall enclosing the garden. They will take your breath away.

From the second gatehouse, the fortress’ tower you’ll see below the mountains is called Salzach Tower.

Constructed in 1564 under the rule of Archbishop Kuen-Belasy, it served as a powder magazine in anticipation of an attack by the Turks and the looming threat of the Thirty Years’ War.

Today, it houses a falcon mews chamber and a horse stable, with a cliff rising 100 meters perpendicular to the Salzach behind it.

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Salzach Tower in Hohenwerfen Fortress, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
Salzach Tower in Hohenwerfen Fortress
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If there are no events happening in Hohenwerfen’s courtyard garden, you are free to walk on its sloping middle part and enjoy the breathtaking views of the surroundings outside the fortress.

To get the best view, head straight to the highest point of the garden in front of the vine-covered facade near the fortress’ north wall or Straw Tower.

With the mountains, meadows, and medieval fortifications in sight, you will undoubtedly be transported back in time to the days of kings and knights!

From that vantage point, you can picture the fortress’ defenders repelling the attackers thanks to the advantage of the slope.

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The vantage point is in between the big tree and Straw Tower, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
The vantage point is in between the big tree and Straw Tower
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Turning around, you’ll realize that it is also a great spot to view the main building of Hohenwerfen Fortress — you will be able to see how large the fortress truly is.

You are now likely eager to enter Hohenwerfen Fortress. To do so, walk along the fortress’ north wall and through the Straw Tower and Marien Gate.

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Marien Gatehouse

Marien Gate or “Woman’s Gate” is the third level of fortification of Hohenwerfen Fortress; a perfect example of medieval military architecture.

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Marien Gate in Hohenwerfen Fortress, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
Marien Gate in Hohenwerfen Fortress
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While it has a plain and modest appearance, it was certainly intimidating to would-be invaders of the fortress, especially with its arrow slits atop the gate. 

Constructed in the 15th century, this formidable structure was designed to protect the living quarters with the addition of barbicans and bastions.

One of its most unique features is the rotatable wooden embrasure, a rarity in Europe at the time.

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Arsenal

After stepping through the Marien Gate, you’ll find yourself face-to-face with one of the gigantic parts of Hohenwerfen Fortress — the Arsenal.

Originally built for food storage, its four floors once held supplies and grains.

But as the fortress was reinforced in the 17th century, it transformed into an arsenal, with cannons and weapons distributed throughout.

Only the top floor remained for food storage, while the bottom housed a wine cellar with a giant wine barrel. Armor was stored on the ground level, and weapons on the next floor up.

Today, it serves as a venue for special exhibitions, such as a fascinating Leonardo da Vinci exhibit in 2019.

Beside the Arsenal is the Wine Gate and the staircase, which leads to the courtyard and main castle. 

The staircase has many steps, though. 

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The staircase and the part of the courtyard you’ll see after the staircase, Hohenwerfen Fortress, Salzburg, Austria
The staircase and the part of the courtyard you’ll see after the staircase
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While it may be today’s inconvenience. It’s all part of the medieval experience at Hohenwerfen Fortress.

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Courtyard

If you make it to the courtyard when it isn’t crowded with tourists, you’ll undoubtedly feel like you’re not in the 21st century.

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Hohenwerfen Fortress, lower courtyard, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
Hohenwerfen Fortress, lower courtyard
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Note: The fortress’ café, souvenir shop,  and queueing line for the tour of the fortress can be found in the courtyard of Hohenwerfen Castle.

Since the courtyard is where you’ll see the oldest parts of Hohenwerfen Fortress, and the architecture of the surrounding structures is an absolute throwback.

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The courtyard of Hohenwerfen Fortress, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
The courtyard of Hohenwerfen Fortress
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When I explored the courtyard, I also saw centuries-old toys, full body knight armor, and medieval weapons.

I think they are used whenever there are events and shows in the courtyard.

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The belfry, clock tower, cannon, and medieval toys in Hohenwerfen Fortress, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
The belfry, clock tower, cannon, and medieval toys in Hohenwerfen Fortress
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One of the first things that I’ve noticed in the fortress, however, are the fat clock tower or belfry and the well with elaborate wrought iron railing on top.

But perhaps, the most notable architectural features of Hohenwerfen Fortress’s courtyard are still its defensive features.

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Benches and arches in Hohenwerfen Fortress’ courtyard, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
Benches and arches in Hohenwerfen Fortress’ courtyard
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Small towers with arrow slits and gun windows overlook the courtyard and could provide strong protection against invading enemies who make it past the Marien gatehouse.

As far as I know, you can only explore this part of the fortress on your own. To see the rest, you must join a tour–which is very much recommended!

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Inside The Castle

Joining a tour of the Hohenwerfen Fortress will give you the opportunity to see both rustic scenes and architectural elegance, such as in the Residential Quarters.

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Residential Quarters of HOhenwerfen Fortress, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
Residential Quarters of Hohenwerfen Fortress
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Upon entering the quarters, you’ll be surrounded by stunning Swiss pine paneling, with intricate oak and pear wood rosettes adorning the ceiling.

These staterooms, built between 1566 and 1568, were designed for prestigious events and are a testament to the craftsmanship of the time.

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View from the top of the belfry of Hohenwerfen Fortress, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
View from the top of the belfry of Hohenwerfen Fortress
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Another interesting feature is the 16th century belfry, which has three levels to explore: the clock pendulum, the trumpeter balcony, and the clockworks.

Each level offers a unique glimpse into the tower’s history and function.

At the top of the tower, in a lantern-shaped structure above the roof dome, hangs a four-ton bell forged in 1568 in Innsbruck. Known as the “Schlossahnl,” this bell served as a storm warning, among other uses.

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The bell and rustic wooden roof truss in Hohenwerfen Fortress, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
The bell and rustic wooden roof truss in Hohenwerfen Fortress
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Its deep, resonant sound could be heard for miles around, alerting residents to approaching danger.

Here’s more impressions of Hohenwerfen Fortress castle interiors:

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Ancient frescoes along the hallway of Hohenwerfen Fortress, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
Ancient frescoes along the hallway of Hohenwerfen Fortress
Torture equipment and a manikin guard in Hohenwerfen Fortress, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
Torture equipment and a manikin guard in Hohenwerfen Fortress
The dungeon and oubliette in Hohenwerfen Fortress, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
The dungeon and oubliette in Hohenwerfen Fortress
The chapel and more exhibits inside Hohenwerfen Fortress, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
The chapel and more exhibits inside Hohenwerfen Fortress
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Reason 3. Intriguing Exhibition: Wizards and Witches in Salzburg

Some of the unique discoveries you can have from Hohenwerfen Fortress is in one of its exhibitions, The Legend of Jackl.

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First floor of The Legend of Jackl exhibition in Hohenwerfen Fortress, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
First floor of The Legend of Jackl exhibition in Hohenwerfen Fortress
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For fantasy movie lovers, it’s a must-see, offering an absolutely intriguing experience.

Visiting the exhibits, you’ll allow yourself to discover the different side of Salzburg several centuries ago.

In a nutshell, this exhibition delves into one of the darkest chapters of Salzburg’s history, shedding light on the practice of witchcraft throughout the ages.

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Witch interrogation equipment in Hohenwerfen Fortress, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
Witch interrogation equipment
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During your tour inside the exhibition, you’ll be following the story of Jakob Koller and his followers, who faced prosecution by Salzburg’s royal court between 1675 and 1679.

You’ll discover how 198 people were accused of practicing witchcraft, with many tortured for their confessions and 138 ultimately executed.

Explore four floors of the old armory, where you’ll encounter fairy-tale characters, historical witches and healers, and modern-day cults that celebrate magic. Here’s the summary:

First floor — “Imagination”.

It displays myths and fairy tales, spells and incantations. The must-see things here are the flying broomsticks and the witches’ bells.

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Exhibits inside Legend of Jackl exhibition in Hohenwerfen Fortress, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
Exhibits inside Legend of Jackl exhibition in Hohenwerfen Fortress
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Second floor — “Fear and Protection”.

Here, you’ll discover that there are good and evil witches. The books, items, and tools that contain black magic and counterspells awaits you here as well.

If you’re interested in the herbal medicine and magical remedies they used, you’ll also find them here.

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Weirdest looking herb ever in Hohenwerfen Fortress, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
Weirdest looking herb ever
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It is truly astounding how all of these artifacts have been gathered and preserved even today.

Third floor — “Fire”

Exploring this area, you’ll learn how Salzburg conducted their witch trials. From prison to torture, convictions to the different methods of executions.

Fourth floor — “Witchcraft Today”

Discover how witchcraft still exists today in different parts of Africa, Thailand, Bali, and more.

At the end of the tour inside the exhibition, you should have gained a deeper understanding of a time when belief in witches and sorcerers was widespread, and magical practices were an integral part of daily life.

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Strangest sorcery masks and costumes exhibited in Hohenwerfen Fortress, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
Strangest sorcery masks and costumes exhibited in Hohenwerfen Fortress
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You’ll realize that some of the stories from the fantasy movies you have seen are actually based on real events!

Definitely, whether you’re a history enthusiast, traveling with children, or simply curious about the world of sorcery, this exhibition in Hohenwerfen Fortress is sure to captivate you.

If you are interested in seeing some of the most hideous voodoo dolls and terrifying witchcraft artifacts, the exhibition at Hohenwerfen Fortress is definitely the place for you.

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Spell books and other exhibits about sorcery in Salzburg, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
Spell books and other exhibits about sorcery in Salzburg
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Children will love the interactive opportunities to fly over the castle walls on a witch’s broom or cast spells with a witch.

Adults can witness a 3D holographic re-enactment of an interrogation from the Ramingstein beggar’s wedding, which took place during the last of Salzburg’s major witch trials.

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Reason 4. Unique Find: The Historic Regional Falconry Center

Hohenwerfen Fortress offers a variety of discoveries in one location, making it a worthwhile stop while in Salzburg. 

Aside from the history of sorcery in Salzburg, you can also learn about Falconry which is a passion of some prince archbishops of Salzburg.

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Exhibits inside Regional Falconry Center in Hohenwerfen Fortress, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
Exhibits inside Regional Falconry Center in Hohenwerfen Fortress
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If you choose to walk to Hohenwerfen Fortress, you will be able to tell right away that the fortress is deeply linked to falconry as soon as you step foot on its grounds.

Images of prince-archbishops, dukes, and even military commanders with falcons can be found all over the fortress’ courtyard garden and Straw tower.

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Different pictures of falconry in Regional Falconry Center, Hohenwerfen Fortress, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
Different pictures of falconry in Regional Falconry Center
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You can, however, begin to explore it further inside the Waller Tower, just next to the second gatehouse of Hohenwerfen Fortress.

Erected in 1535 under the orders of Archbishop Mathäus Lang, this imposing tower was originally intended for defense, but later found use as a storage facility for cannons.

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First floor of Regional Falconry Center, Hohenwerfen Fortress, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
First floor of Regional Falconry Center
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Its formidable appearance is characterized by thick walls and a protective shield at the top, which surrounds three quarters of the tower.

Today, the Waller Tower is home to the first Austrian Falconry Museum, where visitors can explore a thousand years of falconry and raptor hunting history. 

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Rustic staircase and painting of Hohenwerfen Fortress with a falcon in the Regional Falconry Center, Hohenwerfen Fortress, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
Rustic staircase and painting of Hohenwerfen Fortress with a falcon in the Regional Falconry Center
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The falconry museum has a variety of exhibits, including photographs and paintings of falconers, different styles of falconry clothing, replicas of various birds, and maps showing where these birds live.

I was particularly taken with the falconer’s clothing, which I found to be quite stylish. It reminds me of the Legend of Zelda. 

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Stylish clothes of the falconers in the Regional Falconry Center, Hohenwerfen Fortress, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
Stylish clothes of the falconers in the Regional Falconry Center
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The Austrian Falconry Museum’s exhibition extends to the Dark Staircase of Hohenwerfen Fortress, though.

Constructed after 1535, this hidden stairway served as a weather-protected entry and exit to the second bailey in the courtyard.

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Regional Falconry Museum exhibits in the Dark Staircase of Hohenwerfen Fortress, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
Regional Falconry Museum exhibits in the Dark Staircase
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Its purpose was to prevent the enemy from spotting troop movements within the fortress from the surrounding high mountains. 

Today, visitors can find informative boards about different types of birds and recent photographs of falconry events from around the world in Hohenwerfen Fortress’ Dark Staircase.

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Reason 5. Spectacular Fun: Falconry Show

The Austrian Falconry Museum, located in Hohenwerfen Fortress, not only offers knowledge about falconry and its connection to the fortress. 

But, also it allows visitors to witness the art of falconry through their birds of prey show.

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Falconer during the birds of prey show in Hohenwerfen Fortress, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
Falconer during the birds of prey show in Hohenwerfen Fortress
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While the main objective of the falconry show is to promote an understanding of nature, their presentation will help you understand what falconry is really about.

You will learn that caring for birds of prey requires not only knowledge of their biology and behavior. 

Most importantly, there’s empathy, love, and passion. It’s a job for life they say!

The birds of prey shows are performed by professional falconers who have passed the hunters and falconers’ license exam, so you can be sure that the birds are not being mishandled.

So, what is it like during the show?

Imagine standing in the historic Hohenwerfen Castle, surrounded by breathtaking views of the valley below.

As you look up, you see birds of prey soaring above your head, showing off their incredible speed and agility.

The staff is dressed in medieval clothes, adding to the atmosphere, and there’s even live medieval music from brass instrumentalists that transports you back in time.

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Falcon flying with brass instrumentalists playing medieval music, Hohenwerfen Fortress, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
Falcon flying with brass instrumentalists playing medieval music
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It’s an experience you won’t forget.

As you watch the show, you’ll see a good variety of birds on display, including majestic eagles and intimidating vultures.

The experience is nothing short of amazing.

Depending on the falconer’s skills, the birds can come so close to you that you can feel the rush of air as they fly by.

You’ll be in awe as you watch these magnificent creatures soar above your head with grace and power.

While the commentary is only in German, the birds sort of speak for themselves and put on quite a show.

However, if you’re planning to watch the show, here are some tips: arrive early to get a good spot, as it can get crowded; be prepared for some aspects of the show that may not be for everyone (such as the feeding of the vultures). 

In summary, the birds of prey show is a highlight of visiting Hohenwerfen Fortress, particularly for those traveling with children.

The birds of prey show is one of the most unique experiences you can have in Salzburg, and it is both spectacular and enjoyable.

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How To Visit Hohenwerfen Fortress

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Map of Hohenwerfen Fortress, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
Map of Hohenwerfen Fortress
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Getting to Hohenwerfen Fortress is easy.

But of course, the easiest way to get to Hohenwerfen Fortress is by car. There’s a large parking lot that’s available for a few Euros. 

Below are the steps if you prefer using the public transportation to Hohenwerfen Fortress.

From Salzburg, you can hop on the OBB railway or the S-Bahn local rail service to Werfen station. The S-Bahn runs every 30 minutes and the journey takes about 45 minutes.

Once you arrive at Werfen station, you have several options for getting to the fortress.

  1. You can take a scenic walk along a shady footpath directly from the station to the castle in around half an hour
  2. Use the shuttle service provided by Hohenwerfen Fortress. 

If you want to ride the shuttle to Hohenwerfen Fortress, please call the phone number listed on the official website of Hohenwerfen Fortress at least one hour in advance.

This is because the shuttle only runs on a limited schedule, and it is important to book your spot in advance to ensure that you get a seat.

The shuttle ride takes about 15 minutes, and it is a great way to get to the fortress without having to worry about parking or walking a lot.

After arriving at the parking lot, you will continue your journey to the fortress by either hiking or taking the funicular.

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Hohenwerfen Fortress’ funicular, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
Hohenwerfen Fortress’ funicular
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If you choose to hike, be sure to wear shoes with a good grip, especially in case of wet weather.

The hiking trail is inclined (155 meter elevation gain) and takes around 15 minutes before reaching the first and second gateway arches where you can buy your tickets.

The funicular is a faster option, taking only a few minutes to reach the top. However, the tickets to the fortress will be slightly more expensive.

Hohenwerfen Fortress is open to the public from April to November. Castle tours are available continuously throughout the day, and falconry demonstrations are held a few times per day.

However, tour and opening hours vary by month so please check Hohenwerfen Fortress’ official website (see link in the resources section) for the most up-to-date information.

Okay!

Are you traveling to Salzburg in a group and you want convenience in going to Werfen to see Hohenwerfen Fortress (and Werfen Ice Caves)? 

Check out this tour: Werfen Ice Caves & Hohenwerfen Castle Private Tour

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Tickets To Hohenwerfen Fortress

There are four kinds of tickets available to Hohenwerfen Fortress (similar to Hohensalzburg Fortress in Old Town Salzburg). All of them will let you access:

  • Birds of prey show
  • Castle history exhibition
  • Austrian falconry museum
  • New interactive exhibition: The Legend Of Jackl

The only differences between each ticket are the access to the funicular (ascent and descent) and the castle tour of the fortress’ interiors.

  • Ticket Via Footpath — Basic
  • Ticket Via Footpath and Tour — Best for wanderers, physically fit history buffs 
  • Ticket Via Lift — Best value for family travelers and general public
  • Ticket Via Lift and Tour — Full experience and convenience

Here’s where you can check the price of Hohenwerfen Fortress’ Ticket Via Lift and Ticket Via Footpath if you want to book your tickets online.

You can buy the tickets to the tour separately in the fortress.

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Tips When Visiting Hohenwerfen Fortress

Here are more tips and reminders before you go to Hohenwerfen Fortress.

Scenic Walk from Werfen.

If you are in the mood for a scenic experience, take the 30-minute walk from the quaint town of Werfen to the fortress.

The route offers stunning views and is well worth the effort.

This may not be for everyone, but if you enjoy walking, it can be a pleasant stroll, especially on a sunny day.

Footpath Option.

If you’re looking for a more adventurous route, you can take the footpath from the parking area to the top of the fortress.

It’s scenic, and you get a unique view of the fortress below. However, be aware that it involves climbing steep hills. 

Family-Friendly Visit.

Hohenwerfen Fortress can be a great outing for families with older kids, like 10 and 14-year-olds, who can appreciate the history and attractions.

Consider purchasing the quiz at the entrance for a fun and engaging experience for kids during the guided tour.

Plan for Crowds! 

If visiting during peak times, be prepared for potential crowds and waiting times. Arriving early can help you avoid long queues. 

For a less crowded experience, try visiting the castle during off-peak times or avoiding peak tourist seasons.

Guided Tour Audio Guide.

If you choose to take the guided tour, which includes the chapel, torture chamber, dungeon, and bell tower, be sure to get the audio guide.

It allows you to listen to the tour in multiple languages for easier comprehension.

Again, arrive Early for the Falconry Show.

To secure a good spot at the falconry show, try to arrive early. The show features a fantastic display of trained birds of prey, making it a must-see attraction.

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Resources: Hohenwerfen Fortress

So, that’s all that I can share about Hohenwerfen Fortress and why you must visit it.

If you’re eager to learn even more about this fantastic place or if you’re planning your trip, the links below should be super helpful for you.

Feel free to explore and get ready for an unforgettable experience at Hohenwerfen Fortress!

Are you traveling to Salzburg? Well, there’s more that you must see and visit during your trip!

  1. St. Gilgen — St. Gilgen is a charming and picturesque town located in the Salzkammergut region of Austria. Learn more — Visiting St. Gilgen: 7 Things To Do In This Beautiful Village
  2. Monchsberg — It’s the hill overlooking Old Town Salzburg. Come here to see a unique view of the city from above — Mönchsberg: 5 Things To Do on This Hill in Salzburg
  3. Salzburg Cathedral — This is the most impressive church in Salzburg. In my post, you’ll discover the unmissable things to see in this church when you visit — Salzburg Cathedral: Complete Guide (with Facts and Visit Information)
  4. Nonnberg Abbey — An off the beaten path in Salzburg Old town; an oasis of peace and quiet. It’s one of the filming locations of The Sound of Music in Salzburg — Visiting Nonnberg Abbey in Salzburg: Tips and Information
  5. Hellbrunn Palace — A marvel of engineering during the times of prince-archbishops. I marvel at the water-powered automats in its Trick Fountains. Check it out — Hellbrunn Palace: 5 Things To Do (a Must Visit in Salzburg)
  6. Mirabell Palace — It’s one of the most accessible places in Salzburg that was featured in the movie, The Sound of Music. Get a glimpse of the lovely views from the palace — Mirabell Palace In Salzburg: 5 Reasons Why You Must Visit
  7. Mozart’s Birthplace — A must-see tourist attraction to learn about Mozart and the musical heritage of Salzburg. Get an idea of what you can find inside the museum — Mozart’s Birthplace: Interesting Things To Discover Inside
  8. Berchtesgaden — Home to Eagle’s Nest and Konigssee, it’s one of the best day trip destinations from Salzburg. Discover Berchtesgaden Day Trip From Salzburg: Must Things to Do
  9. Kapuzinerberg — The mountain that offers some of the best views of Old Town Salzburg and Hohensalzburg Fortress. See how beautiful the views are — Visiting Kapuzinerberg: Best Views of Old Town Salzburg

For more things to do in Salzburg, you can check this list of guided tours and day trips

Finally, if you are still looking for a place to stay in Salzburg, here are the best hotel deals in the city.

You can use the map feature of the hotel browser I just linked to quickly find the hotels that are most conveniently located for you.

I really hope you enjoy your trip! Thank you for reading.

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