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The FestungsBahn is Austria’s oldest funicular still in operation today. It has been carrying visitors up to the fortress quickly and safely since 1892.


  • contentcolumnsitem Lenght: 198.5 meters
  • contentcolumnsitem_1628721040 Maximum gradient: ca. 62%
  • contentcolumnsitem_863930237 Passenger capacity: 55 people
  • contentcolumnsitem_1079162772 Duration of ride: 54 seconds

History and Equipment

Until 1959 it was known as the “Tröpferlbahn” and powered by water from the Almkanal, while today’s funicular runs on electricity. In less than a minute, the carriages carrying 55 people pull into Fortress Hohensalzburg. Even during the ride up, passengers can enjoy breathtaking views over Salzburg City. And once at the top, you can pause and gaze out across the rooftops of Salzburg to your heart’s content.

Tröpferlbahn (1892 - 1959)

Construction of the water-powered Tröpferlbahn

Construction of a funicular up to Hohensalzburg Fortress, which served as military barracks back in those days, began in April 1892. The management company was the Salzburger Eisenbahn- & Tramwaygesellschaft (SETG).

In a record time of just 78 days, the Festungsbahn was completed and immediately acclaimed as a technological masterpiece. In fact, it was only the second funicular on Austrian territory. Because it was water-driven, it soon became known as the “Tröpferlbahn” (meaning essentially the “droplet train”).  

The water was pumped from the Almkanal, which emerges just below the valley station, into a reservoir up at the fortress with a capacity of approximately 258 m³ of water.

Due to its dependence on water, the funicular had to take a hiatus in winter. Which prompted the powers-that-be to convert it to electric. That said, the “Tröpferlbahn” ran for the last time on 18 October 1959. This also marked the last time that the onboard conductor sounded his legendary horn signal, known as the “Hörndl”.

Electric Funicular

Higher Speed and start of winter service

The water-powered funicular and track were completely demolished, while a new track and two new carriages were installed. The electrically powered funicular went into operation in April 1960.

The speed was doubled (from 1.0 m/s to 2.4 m/s), the new carriages had space for up to 36 passengers. Which meant that the ride from the valley station up to the fortress now only took 80 seconds, less than half of the “official” travel time of its predecessor.

Until 1972, the funicular did not run in winter. Thanks to a heatable conduit used to transmit signals, on 25 December 1972 it was possible for the first time to operate in winter during the Christmas holidays until New Year’s Day. Due to popular demand, winter service was regularly offered from that point on.

The New Funicular


40 million passengers in the span of 31 years made a complete overhaul essential. Whereas they initially contemplated a relatively minor solution involving changing out the carriage superstructure, on 1 September 1989 they eventually decided that complete modernization of the carriages as well as the drive system was the solution that made the best business sense.

The remodeling work at the mountain station began in November 1991. The modernized funicular was now able to travel at 5 m/s, while passenger capacity was increased to 48 people. In order to offer passengers a beautiful view of the city, the windows were made as big as possible, including a glass roof.

Modernization 2011

Best space reserved for passengers

After some 19 years, the third generation of funicular also came to an end. The FestungsBahn was modernized from January until April 2011. Roughly € 4 million was invested in two new carriages as well as modernization of the electrics.

For the first time, the onboard conductor for the ride down no longer stands at the lower end of the carriage. Today, carriages ascending and descending the mountain are controlled by a conductor standing at the top end of the carriage. Leaving the prime spaces in the FestungsBahn for the enjoyment of passengers. The big picture windows affords a fantastic view of the historic district. It is now possible to transport as many as 1850 passengers per hour.


Follow us on a virtual trip to Salzburg and enjoy views across the city, the tracks of the FestungsBahn funicular and the Fortress Hohensalzburg.


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