The Salzach River can give us a lesson that great things don’t necessarily come in big packages. And yes, while the Salzach is some 225 kilometers long, and all of it flows through Austria and along its border, only around 70 of those are found in Germany.
Where does the Salzach start? In the Kitzbühel Alps (it’s west of Salzburg, in case you’re wondering).
The German portion of the Salzach starts in Freilassing, a town of around 16,000 people, and closer to the Salzburg Airport than any other in Germany.
A quick jaunt over to the town museum is in order before it rains on you (sorry, it’s a tad bit rainy here in Freilassing). If that’s not your cup of tea, head to the town of Laufen.
I like Laufen’s medieval Altstadt (Old Town), and its Inn-Salzach style architecture. You certainly can’t miss the bright yellow Salzburg Gate or the Baroque Rathaus (Town Hall).
From the banks of the Salzach you can see the Pfarr- und Stiftskirche, but you’ll have to come inland to enjoy all the bike trails that criss-cross through the countryside. A ride across the Salzach Bridge is a brilliant way to see a different view of the river.
Whatever vantage point you’re using to see the Salzach, it was once a vital part of the salt trade in the Middle Ages, right up to as recently as the 1800s for that matter.
Religion was vital to life in the Middle Ages, as well. Nowhere is that more evident than in the town of Tittmoning and its 121 (!) villages.
That’s not even the amazing part. For all of Tittmoning’s villages, the entire town is a mere 72 square kilometers. You could always ask Pope Benedict XVI about this place, since he used to live here.
And I’m sure if you can get a papal visit he’ll tell you all about the Inn-Salzach architecture (oh look at that, the Salzach River has its own unique architecture too) around the Marktplatz, the St. Lawrence Collegiate Church (it’s Gothic in case you’re wondering), and the 12th century castle with its Chapel of St. Michael.
If you like Tittmoning, then you’re going to love Burghausen — where the Salzach runs along the eastern border of town. It’s got a beautiful Town Square, a Pilgrimage Church (St. Mary of the Assumption, called St. Maria Himmelfahrt in German), and a castle.
The castle’s really worth seeing, since it houses Burghausen’s City Museum and its own Castle Museum (and hosts a Castle Festival in July).
The town is also home to the Bavarian State Gallery, and an annual Jazz Week. Great, all we need now is some 30-year old whiskey to go with that.
We need something because our time along the Salzach ends at the St. Stephen Church and the prehistoric grave fields in Haiming.
I agree… that was a quick trip. But, don’t hesitate to continue your journey along the Inn River, because the Salzach flows right into it here in Haiming.
In fact, the Salzach totally enlarges the Inn. It’s worth mentioning because the Salzach is one of the Inn’s biggest tributaries. And not to be confused with Salzach’s own tributaries like the Lammer and the Saalach.
If all you’ve done is seen the smaller German portion of the Salzach you’ve come to realize that I’m right about great things coming in small packages. But, if you’ve gotten to see the entire river… I’m just plain jealous. ;-)