About Me

I am a 45 year husband and dad, currently adjusting to life back in the United States after living in Italy for a little over two years. I love spending time with my family, cycling, model railroading, mosaics and watching TV and movies.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Hills are Alive with the Sights of Salzburg

After getting ready for the day and having a great breakfast, we packed our gear in the car and headed towards Salzburg. Driving through the city, we eventually entered the highway and headed east arriving in Salzburg before noon, about a 2 hour drive. We found our hotel, the Hotel Pension Alderhof, checked in and got some area information.

Interesting statue in the old town.

Salzburg Austria is forever enjoying the tunes of Mozart and The Sound of Music. Salzburg is full of wonderful offerings for tourists: the old town, splendid gardens, churches, and a medieval fortress. Take away Mozart and the Von Trapps and Salzburg is still full of rich history. In AD 700, Bavaria gave Salzburg to Bishop Rupert for his promise to Christianize the area. It remained and independent state until Napolean arrived. Thanks to its large and formidable fortress, Salzburg avoided wars for 1,200 years, until WWII. Much of the city was destroyed by WWII bombing, but the historic old town survived. 8 million tourists walk Salzburg’s cobbled streets every year.

We decided to buy the Salzburg Card, which the hotel had for sale. It covers admission to most of the attractions in Salzburg and the public transportation.

We walked over to the train station and caught a bus to the old city. Our first goal was to visit the Hohensalzburg Fortress. Built on a rock 400 feet above the Salzbach River, this fortress was never really used. It was a good investment for Salzburg. So formidable was its presence, nobody attacked the city for over a thousand years. The city was never taken by force. It wisely surrendered when Napolean came to town. After being used as a military fortress, the fortress was opened to the public in 1860’s.

We had to ride a funicular up to the fortress. Of course, Brandon and I enjoyed that very much.

We ate some lunch outside the fortress in a café with a fantastic view of the city.

After lunch we took the fortress tour. It turned out to be very short and only showed us a small part of the buildings. Oh well, it was still interesting to see. Each fortress and castle we visit is different in its own unique way.

View of Untersberg, where we will visit tomorrow.

Not a great picture, but this is the Abbey where the real Maria served and where some scenes of the movie were filmed.

After the tour we walked around the courtyard and visited the museums, then rode the funicular back down to the old city.

We wanted to do the Rick Steve’s self guided walking tour of the old town. We started in Mozartplatz where there is a statue in honor of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Mozart spent much of his first 25 years in Salzburg.


We also visited the Residenzplatz, where the buildings once ringed in the ancient Roman forum. We saw the Salzburg Glockenspiel, although it appeared to be under reconstruction.

We also visited the Salzburg Cathedral. This was one of the first Baroque buildings north of the Alps.

Carriages waiting for a concert to finish.

In Kapitelplatz, we walked passed a giant chessboard and the horse bath, the 18th century equivalent of a car wash.

Fountain at the horse bath.

Giant chess board.

Modern sculpture in Kapitelplatz.

We visited St Peter's Cemetery. It has a collection of mini-gardens bunched right along and under Salzburg's giant cliff walls. In Austria, gravesites are rented, not owned. Rent bills are sent out every 10 years. If no one cares enough to make the payment, your remains are discarded. Most of the graves are marked by iron crosses, which was cheaper than tombstones. While the cemetery where the von Trapp family hid in The Sound of Music was a Hollywood set, it was inspired by this cemetery.

It is said that dwarf monks lived in these cliffside dwellings.

Just down the lane from the cemetery is the Toscanini Hof. This square faces the 1925 Festival Hall. This is where Captain von Trapp waited before walking onstage, just before he escaped with his family.

Side of the famous Festival Hall.

To the left of the Festival Hall is a 1500 space underground (in the mountain) parking garage.

We finished up on the Getreidegasse. This street was old Salzburg's busy main drag. It is famous for its old wrought iron signs. The architecture on the street has not changed since Mozart's day.

I don't think the M stands for Mozart.

Speaking of Mozart, our next visit would be on this street - Geburtshaus, Mozart's birthplace. Mozart was born here in 1756. This house is the most popular Mozart sight in town. In this house he composed most of his works.

We were hungry by the time we exited Mozart's house. Brandon had spotted a Chinese place a few buildings up the street. Brandon had soup. Katrina and I made the mistake of having the buffet. Chinese food should not be served in a buffet. The best part of the whole meal was the ice cold Coca Cola's.

After dinner we slowly wandered towards the river. Katrina took a lot of pictures as the sun was setting. On the other side of the river we cut through Mirabell Gardens and ended up wandering through. They were having a concert in the gardens, so we took pictures and listened from a distance. The Mirabell Gardens were laid out in 1730 for the reigning price-archbishop. Statues and an arbor were featured in The Sound of Music.

The Salzach River

View of Fortress from Mirabell Gardens

Fountain in Mirabell Gardens

We exited the gardens and found a bus heading back towards our hotel. Ugh, another hotel without air conditioning.

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