We went from the Salzberg (the salt mountain) above Hallstatt
to Salzburg (the salt fortress) above the Salzach river
to learn how Salzburg’s history
was so very well seasoned by the church.
Founded on the site of a former Celtic and then Roman settlement,
the city was named Salzburg in 696 by Saint Rupert,
picking a site for his basilica
after the Bavarian ruler of the day
asked him to become the area’s bishop.
Salzburg came to be an independent, sovereign city-state
for centuries governed by rulers
of the church and the Holy Roman Empire—
with both sacred and secular authority.
One of the most famous, Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau,
was raised in Rome,
a cousin of the infamous Medici family of Florence.
Often called the Vatican of the North (or of the Alps)—
not just for its independent status
and church leaders (like the Vatican),
not just for its Baroque architecture
and Mediterranean color—
the Von Trapp family, in fact (come on!
We took the tour!), chose Salzburg,
after being in what is now northern Italy
where the Captain served in the navy—
the Von Trapps chose Salzburg
because it was so much like Italy—
not just for all that,
but also because of papal expectations
that Salzburg would protect the church
and serve as a bastion against heresy.
Construction began on the Hohensalzburg
(the high salt fortress) in 1077.
It was built to protect the salt,
and the money salted away (!),
and, eventually, the church (from Protestantism).
In most of Central Europe,
the castles and fortresses
share the skyline with the church steeples.
In Salzburg, they were long one and the same.
Always a scary prospect to consider …
then, or now … there, or here.