Salzburg - the Musical Heart of Austria
Mention the city of Salzburg, in Austria, and it's amazing how many people burst into their favourite song from "The Sound of Music". Despite this, Salzburg has another claim to musical fame - it was the birthplace of Mozart. With much of its central city relatively untouched for centuries, Salzburg also offers the chance to see magnificent architecture in abundance.
Mozart, however, is very much an element of Salzburg, and can't be forgotten very easily. There is Mozartplatz, with a big statue of guess who! The music academy is called Mozarteum, and of course there's the house he was born and raised in (Mozart Geburtshaus) and another house where he lived between 1773 and 1780. This residence, known as the Mozart-Wohnhaus, contains a fascinating museum, well worth visiting.
Best of all, though, is the confection called Mozartkugeln, or Mozart balls, a chocolate covered mix of nougat and marzipan, which seems to decorate a large number of shop windows.
"The Sound of Music", however, doesn't receive the same enthusiastic support, and in some ways is almost ignored in Salzburg. Still, it is possible to visit the gardens of Schloss Mirabell, where many scenes were shot. You can also wander the cemetery of St Peter's. This is where the Von Trapp family hid from the Nazis in the movie. In real life it's much harder to imagine so many people hiding in such a small space!
The old part of the city centre provides many delights, so make sure you take a stroll around this exquisite area. Start with both the Residenzplatz and Kapitelplatz, which are on either side of the magnificent Dom (Cathedral). Finish up in Domplatz and you'll be rewarded with a view of the Dom, the first building outside of Italy that was built in the baroque style. Its three bronze doors symbolise faith, hope and charity.
Even better, take the time to go inside and appreciate the interior. There's also a museum if you want to explore further. There are many other beautiful churches nearby, including Franziskanerkirche (Franciscan Church) and Kollegienkirche (Collegiate Church). Alternatively, you can find a place to sit and drink a coffee while you absorb the atmosphere.
No trip to Salzburg would be complete without a visit to Festung Hohensalzburg - the Hohensalzburg Fortress. This old building dominates the old part of Salzburg, sitting on a hill above the city. You can be energetic and walk 15 minutes up the hill to reach it, or you can catch the funicular. When you reach the top, if you breath hasn't already been taken away by the walk, it will be when you see the stunning views in so many directions. You can pay to visit the interior of the fortress, which includes a fascinating look at everything from state rooms to torture chambers.
Hopefully you will also get to hear some of the interesting tales about the fortress, some true, some not, but all entertaining. One archbishop had a particular fondness for turnips, and there are supposedly 58 of them located in various motifs around the castle. Another story tells of when the city was under siege, and the whole population was hiding in the fortress. With their food almost gone, they paraded their final cow along the ramparts. They fooled the enemy into believing they still had abundant provisions, and the enemy gave up and went home!
If you have plans to visit Austria, then make sure you include Salzburg on your itinerary. There is so much to enjoy and admire, and something to suit everybody's taste. Even if your taste doesn't run to Mozart or "The Sound of Music"!