Reißzug: Lift to the Castle

The Reißzug is a little lift that is used to transport people and cargo from the Nonnberg nunnery to the Festung Hohensalzburg (castle). The world "reißen" means "to tear", but actually, the name is misleading. It was derived from "reisen" or "travel". The lift operates as a cable car and can get tracked back to 1496. It was built in the course of the extension of the castle in the late Middle Ages under the rule of Prince Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach.

It is likely that the Reißzug was built to transport building material to the elevated parts of the castle. Reports could be found that some 300,000 shingles were transported for covering the roofs of the fortress buildings. The oldest construction of the Reißzug was operated with sleighs, but as soon as 1504, wooden rails were built and the Reißzug was turned into something like a proper train.

The Reißzug was incorporated into later walls and fortifications in an effort to avoid it being a "soft spot" of the Fortress. For centuries, the Reißzug became the most important transport route for food and other supplies to the Fortress, whenever the roads were closed in winter. The car of the Reißzug was pulled upwards on a 300 metre long rope, the mechanism was powered by either people or horses.

This was changed in 1910, since then, the train is powered by an engine. In 1951, the rails were exchanged and went from narrow-gauge to normal railway. In 1990 and again in 2004, the Reißzug was renovated and modernised. It is still a very important supply route for the fortress, especially its restaurants. Whilst the Reißzug is not accessible by the general public (it departs from the premises of the Nonnberg nunnery), it is visible from the Nonnberg area and beyond.

Further Reading
Reisszug on Wikipedia
Nice German website on the Reiszug (note the different spelling)

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