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City feeling

A mountain escape close at the Mönchsberg

During a walk over the Mönchsberg, along meandering pathways through meadows and small forests, this city mountain reveals a different aspect around practically every bend. No wonder that this beauty of many faces occupies a permanent place in the heart of Salzburgers – and of many others.

Along its extended ridgeline, which presses right up against the City of Mozart, Salzburg’s beloved local mountain has much to offer: old stately homes, imposing villas and historic fortifications, to name but a few. But also magnificent views of Salzburg and the surrounding mountains. There is no better way to discover the beauty of the Mönchsberg – which, incidentally, gets its name from the monks of St. Peter’s Abbey – than by taking a walk. Or several, to be more exact, since the mountain is crisscrossed by an array of small serpentine paths. This time around, we decide in favor of the “classic” path and begin in the north, next to Mülln Church.

Coffee with a View

The beautiful Roman Catholic church in Mülln is part of World Heritage Salzburg and is a listed monument. We make our way past the left side of the Monika Gate. This gate used to serve an important purpose : part of the so-called “Müllner Schanze”, it dates back to the days of the Thirty Years War. At that time, the city was looking to strengthen its defenses against potential enemy attacks from the north. But for now we move on – to our left the City of Mozart, like a picturesque jewel laid at our feet. Passing beautiful Hotel Schloss Mönchstein, we disappear into a small forest, which ultimately leads us to a famous lookout point next to the Museum der Moderne. Here, we have planned a short break to enjoy the view of Salzburg as well as of the Kapuzinerberg, another city mountain directly across from us. Incidentally, in good weather the terrace of Restaurant m32 is an excellent tip for a fine cappuccino and perhaps a piece of cheese strudel for added “sustenance”. We finally tear ourselves away from the city panorama and continue our march through the forest heading south, to the Bürgerwehr bastion. At these old fortifications, we pause to admire the Untersberg and the Hoher Staufen, rising majestically skywards to our right. We stroll past Gasthaus Stadtalm and, from the next lookout point above Neutor Gate, look down on the “Horse Pond”.

Picnic on the Richterhöhe

As we continue along the path, we have an insider tip for you: Be sure to pay a visit to the Richterhöhe! This is the highest point on the Mönchsberg (508 meters above sea level) and the view to the south is really beautiful. The Richterhöhe itself is a rather secluded, almost enchanted place. We have brought along a small snack and make ourselves comfortable on one of the benches. As we munch on our bread-and-butter sandwiches, we philosophize about the name of this place. You see, “Richter” in German means “judge”. Is it possible that here, in the grey distant past, judges would actually decide matters of life and death? Actually, we have since learned the right answer: No, the Richterhöhe is actually named after Eduard Richter, a historian, alpinist and geographer from the second half of the 19th century.

Families with children, some in prams, approach us as we continue our walk, dogs trotting merrily along next to them with their tails busily swishing back and forth, and light-footed joggers breeze by us. We are again reminded that the Mönchsberg is perfect for locals wanting to get out of the house and enjoy a spot of fresh air and exercise – right in the heart of Salzburg. There’s barely a hint of traffic noise up here. In the warmer months, here and there you are certain to find a secluded spot for a picnic, while in winter a number of small hills close to Gasthaus Stadtalm entice youngsters to go sledding. It is hard to imagine a place more diverse than this.

View of Hohensalzburg Fortress

At a leisurely pace, we gradually make our way back, deciding on a path through beautiful Nonntal. Before we drop down the side of the mountain, we are treated to the sight of the Festungsberg, enthroned upon which – proud and exalted – is Hohensalzburg Fortress. If we had chosen to do so, we could have continued our Mönchsberg expedition up to the fortress, then through the heart of the Old City. But that is a story yet to be told – after all, in Salzburg there is so much to discover.