A Few Days In Salzburg

Some of you may be wondering if we have dropped off the face of the earth but the truth is that we have been so enjoying Salzburg that we have not been inclined to write. The day after the Sound of Music tour, it rained all day. Salzburg gets rain about 150 days of the year so we didn’t expect to get away scott free. We were able to pop out in the afternoon for a bit of a walk and get some groceries but we laid low for most of the day. Over the last few days we have managed to see most of Salzburg – it is not that big – and most of the main attractions. As in all of the European cities that we have been to so far, there are a number of plazas (or platzes as they are called here) and I think that we visited every one of them. The platz usually has a church as its centrepiece which is surrounded by food vendors, musicians, shops, tourists and the odd person begging.  One of the first churches that we visited was the Kollegienkirche (Collegiate Church). It was built between 1694 and 1707 for the local Benedictine University founded in 1622.  One of the largest churches in Salzburg, this Baroque church features a beautiful altar and gorgeous art. We attended Mass on Sunday at the Salzburg Cathedral which featured a wonderful young vocal choir from Atlanta, Georgia. The mixed choir of about 30 voices sang absolutely beautiful. I was able to speak to a couple of the parents after the service and the group is also singing in Vienna. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could see them again there?! We also ventured into The Catacombs in St. Peter’s Cemetery. These catacombs have been chiselled into the mountain side and have existed since 700 AD. It was quite interesting to tour up into the rock through these ancient burial sites where Mozart’s sister and Haydn’s brother are ensconced.

Besides churches and cemeteries we also toured the Hohensalzburg Fortress, that sits atop the hill overlooking Salzburg. This castle was originally built in 1077 AD by the Prince Bishop Gebhard and was gradually expanded over the centuries. The Prince Bishops retained the power and most of the riches until the 19th century when the Fortress was taken over by Napoleon. The last Prince Bishop then fled to Vienna.  The castle is absolutely huge and I am not even sure that we saw everything within its walls. There are the gold rooms built in the 16th century. The walls and ceilings are actually made of gold!! There are large rooms of art and artifacts. As it was also used as a prison during World War I, there are a number of rooms commemorating the war and the history leading up to this conflict. There is a marionette museum but we were disappointed that none of them were moving – well, except for the skeleton that Richard was speaking to!! And then of course, there are the views!! They are absolutely breathtaking and I think that I could have spent the whole afternoon just looking at the mountains and the valleys below.

The Salzburg Summer Music Festival is the largest classical music festival in the world so it would be remiss not to visit the Festival Halls. There are actually three halls or houses within this building which takes up over a city block. The first that we visited is the smallest and the newest. This hall, called the House for Mozart, was built in 2003 and features smaller opera and orchestral productions. The largest hall is used for the big productions and features a large backstage and many floors of dressing rooms and prop storage. And of course the most interesting hall for me is the one that is featured in The Sound of Music. As in the movie, there are actually archways that are carved into the mountainside. These archways are not used for seating but rather for lighting, props or the orchestra. This room and the adjoining intermission hall, were originally built in the 17th century and used as a summer riding arena where soldiers trained and practised jousting  under the close eye of the residing Prince Bishop. The arenas were transformed into music performance halls during the 1920’s.

As this is the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, there are tributes to him everywhere. There are many museums and houses that claim that he was born here, he lived here, he ate here, he gave his first recital here, he was baptized here etc. We did not enter any of them but it is interesting to note that history shows that Mozart did not actually like Salzburg and left the city as a young man. However, a birthplace is a birthplace and that cannot be changed. There is no doubt that Salzburg is proud of their musical son.

And that catches you up. We loved Salzburg but found that many of the statues were covered and some of the attractions that we were hoping to see were still closed for the season. Of course, we knew that by travelling during the offseason, this may happen. This would be a wonderful city to visit during spring and summer, if you don’t mind a million tourists!! We are currently on a train heading to Vienna where we will spend just over a week. We hope to listen to some music, see some white horses and take in the culture of the city. As it is with each new adventure, we can’t wait!!

The place where Mozart was born and Col by his statue.

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This water wheel powers the oldest bakery in Salzburg which dates back to the 12th century.

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The Westminster youth choir from Atlanta Georgia. 

The catacombs of St. Peter’s.  It was amazing how they were carved right into the face of the rock.

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The Castle / Fortress and some views from the top.

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The torture tower.  Looks like they really had something going.

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The Marionette museum in the castle had no moving marionettes, but they did have this.

A few random pics from the streets.

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The world headquarters for Red Bull is right outside Salzburg.  You see Red Bull everywhere.img_3487

Col’s visit to the Festival Halls.

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Our Home in Salzburg.

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