The Griesgasse is a lane in the Altstadt (Old Town) of Salzburg. It has seen quite a lot of history and has been at the heart of Salzburg for millennia. The name means "semolina lane", which is misleading - the term "Gries" was also used for rubble that was deposited by the Salzach River at its banks. Thus the name. "Lane" is an understatement, since it is rather wide and in fact a proper street. It ran parallel to the city walls and links the Anton-Neumayr-Platz and Gstättengasse with the Staatsbrücke bridge.
Until into the 17th century, this area was frequently flooded and used for orchards, gardens and meadows. Only with the "urban development program" of Prince Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau, flood protection measures were taken and the Griesgasse was laid out.
Touring the Griesgasse
At the Münzgasse / Anton-Neumayr-Platz part of the Griesgasse, you are standing in area that was once occupied by the Türnitz - then the oldest army barracks in the world. The barracks were demolished in the 1860ies, when building material was needed for the river training structures. At Griesgasse 37, the city′s pump house was built in 1548; its pump supplied the city with drinking water and was powered by the Almkanal. After 1800, it was powered by a steam engine. In 1944, this "Brunnhaus" was destroyed in the course of WWII bombings.
The city walls had a gate that was often used to take cattle which was kept within the city to drink water at the shore of the Salzach. The gate was called Wassertor, Griestor or Fleischertor. The houses of Griesgasse 1, 3, 5 and 7 originate in the 16th and 17th century. House number 7 was a bathhouse since the Middle Ages; it could be tracked back to the 14th century, but was probably even older. It closed only in the 20th century.
The house in Griesgasse 8 has a plate with an inscription referring to the local mason family of the Dopplers, of whom the physicist Christian Doppler was the most famous member. The house of Griesgasse 11 is still containing parts of the old city walls including a small guard tower which is still quite visible once you know what you are looking for. House number 15 once contained a home for poor and old people; house number 21 was the city′s main blacksmith ("Stadtschmiede").
Fishmongers & Butchers of the Griesgasse
The area where the Griesgasse meets Hanuschplatz still has a well-known fish shop, called Fisch Krieg. This is the site where once the waterman fountain was placed; today, you can find this fountain in the Furthwängler Park, between Festspielhaus and Kollegienkirche. The waterman fountain indicated that this was where the fish market of Salzburg could be found; fish was delivered from local lakes and rivers. The 1920ies shop of Fisch Krieg is worth a look, too. The fish market moved away from the site in 1872 (to the site where the waterman fountain can be found today, by the way, where it stayed until 1926).
If you have read our article about the Staatsbrücke, you know that it was once a covered bridge with the butchers of the city enjoying the "running water" they could use for keeping their workshops clean. This changed in 1607, when Prince Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau had the butchers transferred to the Griesgasse. Here, they got 15 workshops with a separate well for each. Every workshop consisted of an area for the slaughtering and a separate area for selling meat and other products of the non-vegetarian kind.
The butchers occupied much of the Griesgasse from the area near today′s Staatsbrücke to the Gstättengasse. In Griesgasse 19, you will find a replica of the coat of arms of the butchers. The facilities were rather advanced and proved to be sufficient until well into the 19th century. Only in 1816, the butchers moved to Lehen where they were merged into a central slaughterhouse for the first time. The medieval arrangement of guilds was finally outdated; in the new and secularised Salzburg, there was no room for butchers in the Griesgasse anymore.
Hidden Treasures of Salzburg
German Wikipedia on the Griesgasse in Salzburg