- A Handful Of History, Mixed Up With Music And A Pinch Of Salt
by Markusde Nooier
You are probably aware that
Salzburg was the birthplace of Mozart. You may also know that it was the
location for many of the scenes of the film, The Sound of Music. You may
not know that its existence as a wealthy Austrian city is based on the
rich deposits of salt that have been mined nearby over countless centuries,
and transported away on the Salzach River that cuts the city in half.
|As a visitor to Salzburg,
you will find it hard to ignore these facts if you want to see what this
beautiful city has to offer. Most of its tourist attractions have links
to the composer or the film, and a visit to the Bad Dürrnberg Salt
Mines is billed as unmissable.
The composer is honored in
his home town with a monument in the square that bears his name, in various
festivals and in a number of museums. He also has one of the city's many
bridges named after him.
In 1756, he was born in an
apartment on the third floor of the museum now aptly named Mozart's Geburthaus
in Getreidegasse, now a well-to-do shopping area. His mother gave birth
to her seven children there.
Sadly only two made it past
their early years - Wolfgang Amadeus and his sister, Maria Anna. Mozart'
residence in Makartplatz 8, was his home from 1773 to 1787. Damage from
bombing in 1944 has been repaired, and this forms another museum where
you can learn more about the composer's family life.
In the time of Mozart, as
the capital of the principality of the same name, Salzburg had its own
Prince-Archbishop, Hieronymus Colloredo. He was, of course, the natural
first patron for the city's remarkable young composer, no matter how reluctant
his protégé felt. The Residenz Palace at Residenzplatz 1
is therefore another connection to Mozart. Built to display the wealth
and power of the Prince Archbishops, visitors still find it dazzling today.
Try to time your visit so that you can also hear its Glockenspiel playing
while you stand in the square - at 11 am or 6 pm. The instrument dates
back to 1704. It has 35 bells and plays 40 different tunes.
can now be found in the gardens of the Mozarteum Foundation, the Bastionsgarten,
in Schwarzstrasse 26. This little house was brought here from Vienna, and
is said to be where Mozart composed and rehearsed parts of The Magic Flute
The original concept of Salzburg's
Annual Festival was about the music of Mozart, but by the time it came
to fruition this focus had changed and broadened. Yet Mozart's music forms
part of most of the frequent concerts in the city. A small concert hall
is called the Mozarteum, and the city has a Mozarteum Orchestra. And why
not take in one of the candle-lit Mozart Dinner Concerts at Stiftskeller
St. Peter? They take place every night at 8 pm.
|The Sound of Music
To visit the locations for
the movie, you can take one of the numerous tours on offer. If you decide
to go it alone, these are the venues that shouldn't be missed.
The Nonnberg Nunnery where
Maria was a novice is one of the oldest in the world. Perched on a hillside,
it can be seen from all over the town as you look up towards the fortress.
Its buildings include the convent, its kitchens and refectory, a grand
hall, the church of Maria Himmelfahrt, cloisters which the site dictated
must be to the west, older abbey buildings, the St John's Chapel and a
The Trapp family home in
the film was made up of several locations, only some of which are now open
to the public.
The palace of Wasserschloss
Anif is actually outside the city and not accessible, while at Schloss
Leopoldskron Palace, where some lakeside scenes were shot, you can walk
the waterside paths and try to recognize the actual spots. Schloss Frohnburg
provided the Trapp residence's front exterior. It is now a rehearsal site
and concert venue for Salzburg's Mozarteum University, with some rooms
used for student halls.
But you can see the real
Trapp family home, which is now a hotel in the Georg von Trapp Strasse.
This, of course, was not used in the film. You can also see the Mirabell
Palace and Mirabell Gardens where the film showed Maria and the children
singing "Do-Re-Mi". Here you should also find time to see Salzburg's gnome
garden, with its many grotesque statues.
At the Felsenreitschule and
the festival halls you can see the stage where the Trapp family performed
at the Salzburg Festival before their dramatic flight.
Locals refute the claims
that St. Peter's Cemetery was where the family hid from the Nazis before
reaching their getaway car, but it's worth a look all the same. It does
have the shadowy cloisters and dramatic gravestones that the tour guides
say were used. Look out for the grave with seven crosses, last resting
place of a man and the six wives he is said to have murdered by tickling
them to death.
Finally, the Sound of Music
Pavilion can be found at Hellbrunn Palace. It was the scene of two of the
most romantic sequences in the movie, "I am 16, Going on 17" and "Something
Good". The Pavilion has been moved here from the grounds of Leopoldskron
Palace, it's original location during the filming.
Bad Dürrnberg Salt
Without these salt mines,
situated not far from the city to the south, the old town of Salzburg is
not likely to have reached its present state of being a UNESCO World Heritage
Site. Salt has been worth its weight in gold through the centuries, hence
its nickname, "white gold". It has been the bedrock of the city's economy
and the wealth of its rulers.
When you arrive at the mines,
be ready for a number of different ways to travel into the bowels of the
earth. Once you have donned the obligatory white overall, a miner's trolley,
part of a little train, gets you going. Don't worry if you hear some screams
echoing around. You might let one go yourself as you push off on one of
the steep, polished slides that get you down really quickly. Eventually,
you'll reach the salt lake and take a seat on the balustraded raft to be
ferried across it. You'll have a truly memorable experience as you learn
about the salt and about life and work of the miners.
Of course, Salzburg isn't
just about its most famous inhabitants or its salt mines. While you are
there, you'll probably want to try out the Salzburg version of the Austrian
Beer Garden. Tours of the city can be made on land and water, even in the
air, as riverboat and helicopter trips are available.
The old town is full of the
most wonderful examples of Baroque religious architecture. For example,
no visit is complete without seeing the cathedral. To get to the main entrance
you pass four massive statues, of St Rupert, St Virgil, St Peter and St
Paul. It shouldn't surprise you to note that St Rupert is portrayed with
a barrel of salt, while Virgil has a church, Peter has keys and Paul, a
sword. Check out the cathedral's interior for a wealth of frescoes and
baroque finery to rival the decoration outside.
The cathedral square is
where they hold the Everyman performance each year during the Salzburg
Festival. Imagine the dramatic effect of the cathedral façade as
a background to this morality play. Again, every year the Christmas Market
takes place there and the Domplatz is regularly thronged with people.
Towering over the city is
another unmissable, the fortress of Hohensalzburg. If you are intimidated
by the climb up to it, you can take the funicular railway from the Festungsgasse.
It's well worth the effort of getting there to see this fine example of
a castle that has remained unvanquished since it was built in the 11th
The Hellbrunn Palace gets
a mention above as a corner of its gardens is the current location of the
Sound of Music Pavilion. This palace, together with its pleasure garden,
is fascinating for both its elegance and amazing quirkiness. Beware - it
is the site of the trick fountains where guests have received unexpected
soakings at the whim of their all-powerful host. These, plus garden walks
past lesser palaces, the various grottoes and five unique water-automated
tableaux, and a mechanical theater with around 200 water-driven figures
and a water-powered organ, all add up to a major visitor attraction.
If you prefer walking in
more natural surroundings, you should head for the hills. Situated on the
edge of the Alps, Salzburg offers plenty to choose from. You can reach
the Gaisberg Circular Walk by bus from the Mirabellplatz. The forests of
the Kapuzinerberg are criss-crossed with walking and jogging routes. Strolling
there, you might come across yet another memorial to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
The Mönchsberg, home of the Hohensalzburg Fortress, also has wooded
pathways in which to find some quiet relaxation. You don't have to go far
to get away from it all.
Whether you are keen on nature,
history, architecture, music, or just the Sound of Music musical, you'll
have a wonderful time in Salzburg.
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