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The Sound of Music... Mozart
Sights and Attractions in Salzburg (Austria)
Member Name: logberg
Sights and Attractions in Salzburg (Austria)
Advantages: Fabulous scenery, grand history, great place to visit
Disadvantages: None that I found
Tourism based on ancient and modern - Mozart’s music genius in the 1700s, and the modern tunes of The Sound of Music, famous now for just over 40 years.
Salzburg has it all, the music story, wonderful, old, historic buildings and the majestic mountains bordering a lovely, open rural plain. ‘The Festival City and its beautiful surrounding countryside’ - that’s what my glossy tourism book says and I agree through and through.
My winter visit was magic. Snow was not as predominant as it usually is in February but enough on the stunning mountains to add the feeling of winter turning to spring. This proved to be just the right time of year for us to explore an old, architectural beauty.
Mozart was born here - to be precise he entered the Salzburg scene at 8 o’clock in the evening on the 27th day of January in 1756 at number 9 Getreidegasse and one day later he started the tourism trend by going to the Cathedral and gaining the honourable name of Johannes Chrisostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart at his christening.
With such a musical name it was always on the cards that he would take the world by storm and create 600 musical pieces from little arias to historic operas. One thing for sure, in his short life he must have been a very busy musician and ‘’chocolatier’‘! Well, in today’s Salzburg you see many red and gold chocolate creations - Mozart Balls abound -- whole shops of just Mozart-related chocolates, you have to ask the question ‘’Did he love chocolate or did he not?’‘ Perhaps that is what brought him to an early grave as he died just 35 years old but he had packed a lot into his time: performed for royal families in Vienna, Paris and London, awarded “Knight of the Golden Spur’‘ by a Pope, court concert director and organist and all the while writing such works as The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni and The Magic Flute.
In today’s Salzburg you can share in his history by visiting both the house he was born in which is now a museum to him, a yellow building prominent on the tourism street of Getreidegasse and the home where he moved with his famly The Dance Master’s House on Market Square.
No visit to Salzburg would be complete without paying homage to Mozart in some way: visit these buildings or take in a concert of his everlasting music. We went to the birthplace and enjoyed the many levels giving a glimpse into the way life was in Salzburg in the 1700s. Well worth a visit, stay for lunch in the café - recommended.
Now to the modern day music influence in Salzburg. This is where the Sound of Music is set and a good lot of the movie was filmed in and around the city. Actually, it is a good way to see Salzburg and the mountain areas around it. We took the Original Sound of Music Tour in a bus suitably decorated with the von Trapp family from the movie.
Now, just a little word of disappointment here. On the tour you get a full and comprehensive commentary about how the film was made, how the original family lived and sadly for me the two don’t parallel each other too well. In fact, the movie is mostly made up - our efficient tour guide shared a deep insight into the real history and I confess I had no idea that it wasn’t as it was portrayed in the movie. There is enough to hang the movie on the original von Trapps but only just in my opinion.
But, it did not mar the enjoyment and wonder of the tour, the movie sites and the places you drive to. There is plenty of time for getting out of the bus, taking photos and asking questions. The tour is really well worth going on - just be aware that the movie is not much like the real life story of the Von Trapp family.
When I returned home I put on the 40th Anniversary of the Sound of Music DVD and what a joy it was to see all the places we visited on the tour. I look at the movie differently now, more as a tourist than one wanting to be entertained. One little disappointment is the fact that the big family house you see in the movie (where the children fall into the lake in front of the house) is actually two houses. The front is one house, the back another - miles apart. And, the real von Trapps never snuck off out of the town via the cemetery, pursued by Germans and trekking over the Untersberg mountain - they actually packed a backpack each, went down to the railway station and took a train out of Salzburg to somewhere else in Europe before going to America.
On the tour we were taken to Mirabell Gardens where Maria and the children danced around the Statue of Pegasus fountain, through the tree-lined arches and up the steps. We went to Leopoldskron Castle and lake, Hellbrunn Castle grounds to see the glass pavillion where ‘’I am 16, going on 17'’ was sung so beautifully, Nonnberg Abbey which is the oldest convent in the German-speaking part of Europe. The real Baron and Maria were married here in 1927 and it is where Maria returned to late, while the nuns were going to mass at the beginning of the movie. We moved out of the city to visit St Gilgen and Lake Wolfgang which is the scenery shown at the beginning of the movie. Finally, we went to Mondsee Cathedral where the movie wedding was filmed - stunning building.
Now I will mention some of the attractions we visited and share a little about each one.
Salzburg has so much to offer the tourist, you can walk to most things. There is the old town nestled under the steep, rocky hillside with the river Salzach forming a border for the new town. The bus service is so efficient and takes you efficiently through the town and out into urban areas around about.
We walked and walked and walked - every day something different to see. On our first full day we came upon a permanent market and around the corner, spread around a church by the Mirabell Gardens was a fantastic Thursday market - what a cacophony to excite the senses. Memorable for sure.
HOHENSALZBURG FORTRESS is dominant atop the hill and able to be seen for miles around. It’s been up there since 1077 when Archbishop Gebhardt von Helffenstein began construction. The most important builder was Leonhard von Keutschach (1495-1519). From here you get magnificent views of the city below and miles out to the mountains and all in between.
We saw huge majolica urns here, so stunningly endowed with figures, absolutely fantastic. There is a strong showing of battle implements and other war influences so men would particularly like this attraction. We visited the Marionette Theatre-Museum in the fortress.
To get to the fortress you can use the 1892 funicular in front of it, go along the road a little and go up a lift or walk up the steep hillside walk-way. We went in the cable car - to save time and be able to see more of the fortress.
We could not visit the house in the winter but the gardens really are lovely, even in pre-springtime as the statues are most impressive and the little box-bordered gardens were offering some hints of colour.
Drawn there by the Maria von Trapp history we took the long, steep climb up to the abbey and were surprised to see we could go through the wrought iron gate and even inside the church. It was extremely dark, grey and quite austere but well worth going to visit. Outside and in the lovely courtyard are tidy, well-cared for graves which are obviously the resting place of nuns who served there. We went back inside the abbey to sit and listen to taped music of the real nuns singing, it was so lovely to be there experiencing the beauty of the sound.
ST PETERS ABBEY
What a treasure. The grandest cathedral I have ever been in. A massive, creative, golden high altar dominates from the minute you step in the front door. The ceiling is grand, it so beautifully depicts the life of St Peter by Franz X Konig. The abbey is dedicated to patron saints St Peter and St Paul. It presents as medieval world of the Romanesque architecture. Have to mention the organ - 1620/1763 it includes statues of St Peter and St Vitus - it is so so grand. Gold, ancient paintings and an environment drenched in history - you really must see St Peter’s Abbey when in Salzburg.
In the centre of the old town stands the earliest Italian-type church built north of the Alps. It’s stood there since the early days of Salzburg and it is quite different. Bright orange tones and the most fantastic old paintings on the sides and up on the ceiling. It was bombed in World War II but is now restored to the original state. Many parishioners and visitors have walked down the aisles of the Dom zu Salzburg since it was consecrated in 774 by the Abbot and Bishop Virgil ....dedicated to St Rupert and St Virgil... it is a treasure among the sacred buildings that make up Salzburg - 42 in all.
PRINCE ARCHBISHOPS’ RESIDENCE
Set in the Residence Square, this is the place where all the Archbishops of Salzburg have resided and the audio-tour is well worth taking. Each room is beautiful, white, red and gold tones throughout and as you would expect chandeliers and masterpieces abound. The stately Conference Hall is so ornate and when you are in the first guest room the staircase has the most wonderful ‘’organ’‘ balustrades so as you pass you can play a tune or two. Wonderful. It is set in Presidenz Square where I heard the lovely glockenspeil bells which peal Mozart tunes three times a day.
MIRACLES WAX MUSEUM
This is a look at Salzburg in the year 1791. A manservant Franz Josef takes you through the life of those in fashion and high society including a Mozart party as well as a look at beggars and other historic depictions.
It ends with a scene from the Sound of Music which is beautifully framed in a rose bed - a really good way to learn about the history of Salzburg and see how people lived at the time in the 2400 m2 of historic streets, animations and moving/speaking figures which total 77 life-size wax people.
We took a day trip out to a 450 year old salt mine which was actually in Germany, in the Bavarian Alps. Near Berchtesgaden, it was an attraction with a difference - you had to get into miners clothes and take a little train deep into the mountain. The tour guide only spoke German but there was an English commentary from a box at each site. This was okay but we did lose a bit in the fact we couldn’t ask questions. However, we did take a scary ride down a miners wooden slide (rail thing) and it was extremely ‘screamy’. Inside we went on a special boat across a salty- water grotto which was dark and eerie.
On this trip we visited Obersalzberg where once the leaders of the Third Reich had residences and from here we looked up to Eagle’s Nest which was Hitler’s former conference centre.
We ascended the 1853m mountain in a big cable car and the views from here are just magic. What a vista: snow-capped mountains, huge rural plains and of course the city of Salzburg below where the Hohensalzburg Fortress dominates the view.
There is so much more for you to experience in Salzburg: the bridges, especially the Mozart walking bridge, the Marionette Theatre Museum, many restaurants, Steigl’s Brauwelt which is claimed to be Europe’s largest beer exhibition, hosts of museums, Pferdeschwemmen Horse Wells, the Zoo at Hellbrunn, many churches and absolutely wonderful shop windows in both the old and new areas.
Salzburg is a mix of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque .... it is a beautiful city and one you can explore at your leisure for either a short break or for longer if you want to ski, shop, dine and take in some rather stunning scenery.
If you are going to be there a few days, ask about the Salzburg Card: once bought it offers free admission to lots of attractions, free public transport as well as discounts for cultural events and various tours and visits.
Lasting impression: At night, standing on one of the bridges looking back at the old town with lights beaming onto church spires, castle towers and high above it all Hohensalzburg Fortress - superb.
Getting there: fly, train, bus or private car. The airport is only about a 20 minute drive into the main part of the city where you will find lots of varying types of accommodation for all budgets.
Salzburg is old, it is truly a memorable place to visit - I will need to win a big lottery to buy the most beautiful piece of material I have ever seen in my life - 139.50Euro per metre!!! I cannot even start to describe it here - there are no adjectives to describe this ‘’wonder of the world’‘ in material terms!
I intend to write more fully on some of the attractions I visited in reviews of their own when time allows. Hope you enjoyed this one and you feel inspired to make a booking and get to Salzburg on your next holiday. You will be doing yourself a BIG favour - I will return in the summer to take in some things which were closed.
Summary: Salzburg, city of music, history and great scenery
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