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Culture & history.

Small historical city of Radstadt

Radstadt small historic town - Culture & History
Photo: TVB Radstadt

The town of Radstadt is the main city of the Ennspongau region in the province Land Salzburg. It is situated on a terrace which slopes off on three sides and lies 856 meters above sea level. On July 27, 1289 the Archbishop of Hohenegg awarded the town a charter that granted the inhabitants of Radstadt ("Cives in Rastatt") all the rights, privileges and liberties that Salzburg and the archdiocese’s other cities enjoyed. In addition, he exempted Radstadt from all taxes and duties for ten years, except the expenses for fortifying and guarding the city. The document which records this also includes the municipal law.

The area around Radstadt was populated by the Celts in the 4th century BC. Later the Romans took possession, whereby an important roman road ran from Aquileia over the Radstädter Tauern mountains to Juvavum (Salzburg). The history of the actual “old city in the mountains” began with the Bavarian colonization in the 7th century AD. To this day it is not clear whether the naming of the city is of Slavic or Germanic origin - RASTAT (1074), RADESTAT (1092), RASTAT (1139).
In the 13th century, the entire terrace was fortified and the town was granted its city charter, thereby becoming Salzburg’s only city in the mountains. The city was granted many liberties because of its strategic importance on the border to Austria. Radstadt faced its first test in 1306 during a conflict with Duke Albrecht of Austria. The city arms stem from this time. Gradually the judicial, market and staple rights were shifted from Altenmarkt to Radstadt. The city was robbed of many of its historical buildings by several large fires (1365, 1417, 1616, 1781, 1855 and 1865). Today only the SCHUSTERTUM, a late gothic light column from 1513, attests to past grandeur.
Radstadt’s most significant era was during the peasant war in 1525/1526. The city prevailed throughout the siege of 5000 farmers who were united under the leadership of MICHL GAISMAIR. In recognition of the city’s loyalty it was awarded the great charter of liberty and the title “ALWAYS FAITHFUL” by the archbishop MATTHÄUS LANG in 1527. Even today the privileged uniformed civil-guard is founded on this letter of liberty.
In 1621 a Benedictine school was established in the former PFLEGBURG. The Capuchin order used the fortress as a monastery until it was closed in 1978. Because of archbishop Firmian’s emigration edict of 1731/32, more than 3000 people had to emigrate from the district of Radstadt, many of whom found a home in East Prussia. In the first half of the 19th century the Austrians, Bavarians and French took turns occupying Salzburg. Not until 1861 did the province become Austrian crown land. The building of the Bischofshofen - Selzthal railway brought an economic upturn in 1875. The two municipalities of Radstadt city and Radstadt county were merged in 1938. In order to protect its heritage, Radstadt was the first city in the state to pass an ordinance preserving the townscape.

A free Radstadt audio guide for your smartphone you can get HERE.


Paul Hofhaimer

Paul Hofhaimer - small historic town of Radstadt

“An artist like Paul Hofhaimer on the pipe organ or Dürer from Nürnberg at painting.”

Teophrastus Paracelsus wrote these words. Whoever is named in the same breath as Dürer, and by none less than the world renowned physician, truly was at the height of his time.

Paul Hofhaimer, born January 25, 1459, became famous as a pipe organ and lute player, as a composer and conductor, as the inventor of the regal, and as courtier of the Emperor Maximilian.

The son of a master welder came from the small city of Radstadt, where he attended the school of the Radstadt city vocalists and organists.

He received his further education in Innsbruck at the court of the ‘Sigismund the Wastrel’. Later he came to be with emperor Max, with whom he had to travel about “like a gypsy” for thirty years. During this time his fame continued to grow.

In 1515 he was knighted for the wonderful performance of his TE DEUM in St. Stephan’s Cathedral in Vienna.

Dürer drew his likeness and also fashioned a copper engraving thereof during Emperor Max’s triumphal procession. His style at the organ was praised for its power and harmony, whereas he also found the right musical language for simple folk songs.

Paul Hofhaimer died in 1537.

Geography & infrastructure

Radstadt lies at 856 meters above sea level on a rock terrace in the upper Enns valley. The city is surrounded by two mountain ranges, the Dachstein to the north and the Radstädter Tauern to the south. The small, 700-year-old city with its 5.000 inhabitants is only 70 kilometers south of the festival city Salzburg and can be reached via the Tauern motorway (A10) or by express train. The nearest airport is Salzburg.

Flora and Fauna

Flora and fauna around Radstadt.
Photo:Lorenz Masser

The altitude, soil and climate favor the spruce forest. Alongside them beech, pine, larch and sycamore-maple trees are found in varying numbers. Scattered throughout the city one can find the Swiss stone pine, though a larger number grows at Labeneck. In front of the northern city wall stand some beautiful old trees (maple, chestnut, pine, larch, Swiss stone pine). Oak is found downstream of Schladming. Due to drainage, the regulation of the river and the clearing of the forests, the once expansive marshes and alder thickets have been pushed back.
Today, agriculture has become less significant. Only two field names remind of former barley and flax cultivation. A good sized marsh is preserved near Mandling where peat is still produced.

In the extensive marshes that preceded the regulation of the Enns river, several migratory birds would settle, such as cranes, storks and herons. The shape of a heron on a well at the local museum reminds thereof. With the pushing back of the swampy forest and the expansion of cultivated land came buzzard, rook and magpie. The muskrat is a recent immigrant that came into Salzburg through the Oichen valley as late as 1925. In the forests live stag and deer. Farther up one meets the chamois. At the edge of the forest the wood grouse and the black cock display their plumage. Vulgo names call to mind that there once were bears and wolves in the area.

Culture in Radstadt

Attire in Radstadt
Photo: Kulturverein "Das Zentrum"
Militia Radstadt
Photo: Lorenz Masser
Heimatverein Radstadt
Photo: TVB Radstadt

The preservation of culture has a long tradition in Radstadt. These days the culture bearers are primarily artists and various associations. The civil-guard was founded more than 700 years ago to defend the city. Today they garnish religious and secular holidays with their smart uniforms.

The city’s brass marching band provides the musical framework for the well-known Guard Festival, which takes place on the first weekend in August, as well as for many other celebrations and parties. The local historical association “Goasstoana" has committed itself to preserving ancient customs as well as the traditional garb.

The old customs are alive and celebrated in Radstadt, for instance by setting up the maypole on the First of May or at the harvest festival in October, at which the “harvest crown“ is carried through the city in ceremonial manner after holy mass.
Further cultural attractions are the Museums of Local History in Schloss Lerchen and in the Capuchin tower, the “Almabetrieb” cow-train being driven back from the alp every 2 years in the 1st half of September for the harvest festival, and the krampus run at the beginning of December.

The culture-group “Das Zentrum” underlines Radstadt’s position as the cultural center of the Salzburger Sportwelt amadé with many cultural events of the highest standard. Hereby the Zeughaus am Turm armory, dedicated for this purpose in 1989 in the former Teichturm tower, offers the ideal setting. 

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