Boating & Cruising on the Salzach River

The Salzach River has been an important water way for millennia. Especially in the late Middle Ages and in Baroque times, the Salzach was the most important trade-route for salt from Hallein and ores and other minded goods from the south. Thus, boat transport has a long tradition in Salzburg. When it comes to the transport of people, however, things look a bit different. There have been ferries in place for a long time, of course. However, boating and leisure cruises are a rather recent thing.

In 1857, the steam boat "Prinz Otto von Bayern" was tested on the Salzach. It was meant to link the Bavarian town of Laufen with the Old Town of Salzburg; a provisory pier was built at the level of the Ursulinienkloster (Markuskirche). This journey was a success, but remained a single effort. Only in 1884 there was an attempt to start a scheduled boating service between Braunau and Salzburg. The test runs failed, and the plan was abandoned. Another attempt occurred in 1890, once again it failed due to technical difficulties.

Finally, the local businessman Anton Petzer acquired a permission to operate a scheduled boating service between Hellbrunn, Salzburg city and Bergheim. Test-runs were successful and so the line started to operate. On the first ride, the boat got caught on a sand bank and sat there for several hours - with various guests of honour aboard, such as mayor and governor of Salzburg. Despite of this minor set-back, the line was in operation for about one month before it was closed down again. Another failure in the efforts to establish a regular Salzach cruise line. This failure was more lasting than the others.

Only in 2002, a local company attempted to develop a cruise boat suitable for the Salzach. A special boat was built, which had draft of only 38 centimetres. Most originally, they named the boat "Amadeus"; probably because there are hardly any other things named after Mozart in Salzburg. The cruise line operated between Makartsteg and Hellbrunner Brücke on scheduled rides, with the opportunity to (literally) embark on more extravagant routes upon special request.

The same year, a flood destroyed the pier and damaged the "Amadeus" badly. It took two years until the money was found to fix the boat and pier; since then, the Amadeus is cruising the Salzach without any major accidents or flood disasters. It is a popular tourist attraction, but no "real" mean of transport. The route Makartsteg-Hellbrunner Brücke has remained the same.

Further Reading
Boating & Cruises on the Salzach on SalzburgWiki (German only)

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