The Sound of Music film celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year and Salzburg is geared up for a major tourist invasion, and visitors won’t be disappointed. Much of the film was shot elsewhere, but the ambiance and scenery in and around the city are so authentic that you expect Julie Andrews to come waltzing round every corner. The city with its church towers, cupolas, and snow capped mountains can only be described as chocolate box beautiful. And the bonus is that it is filled with impossibly nice people, a lot of them dressed in traditional garb, right down to dirndls and lederhosen, all smiling and welcoming.
Salzburg - The Sound of Mozart
It shares with Vienna the reputation of being a musical city par excellence, but Salzburg is more than music, it has charm, vivacity and is a delightful city in which to walk
Banks of the Salzach River
A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997
Architecture from Gothic to Modern makes this a fascinating city for art lovers.
The Fortress on the hill and the mountains serve as a fairy-tale background to the narrow streets, courtyards and bridges over the River Salzach. The Old Town is one of the best-preserved towns north of the Alps and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997. It is internationally renowned for its baroque architecture, but modern and post-war modern have not been neglected. Despite its UNESCO World Heritage status it also offers some excellent contemporary architecture, such as the Mozarteum at the Mirabell Gardens and the Residential and Studio house of the architects Christine and Horst Lechner in the middle of Salzburg's old town which was awarded the Architecture Award of Salzburg in 2010. The Old City is the prettiest part of Salzburg. I say ‘pretty’ advisedly because Salzburg is pretty, from the flowers that seem to decorate every shop front and window to the wrought iron shop signs in the main street to the tidy courtyards and lanes that entice the visitor to venture inside.
Birth place of Mozart, January 27th, 1756
Salzburg was the birthplace of 18th-century composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. You can’t walk more than 5 metres without being reminded that Mozart was born here whether it’s a plaque on a wall, the ubiquitous Mozart Chocolates boxed and wrapped in every conceivable sort of package, or the Mozart liqueur - an acquired taste. Many places associated with the young genius are open to the public and his music seems to be the favourite choice of restaurants and shop. He was born at No. 9 Getreidegasse where he lived until he was 17 and his piano, on which he composed most of his 27 piano pieces, is on display here.
The Mozart Memorial stands in the square of the same name. the residence to which he located when he left Getreidegasse, the Dance Master’s Hall was heavily bombed during the second world war but has now been restored to something of its former grandeur.
Historical Centre of Commerce in Salzburg - Getreidegasse
The main shopping thoroughfare, lined with upmarket and artisan and craft shops interspersed with fashion boutiques, cafés, restaurants and ice-cream shops, begins at the town hall and ends at the base of Mönchberg cliffs. It is a street full of partly gilded wrought-iron shop signs which originated in the Middle Ages when the populace was mostly illiterate and relied on sign language like these indicators of the trades within. Passages and courtyards lead off this street, some to dwelling houses (for this is very much a lived-in city) and some to more restaurants and shops. Come Christmas time this street is one of the most romantic looking in the city.
Interior Salzburg Cathedral
Churches in Salzburg
There are many churches in the city but two of the most important are St. Peter’s Abbey and Salzburg Cathedral.
St. Peter’s district is the birthplace of Salzburg which began to flourish with the founding of the Abbey by Bishop (Saint) Rupert around 700 AD: the cloister is the oldest surviving Benedictine cloister in the German speaking regions.The monastery church was built in the 12th century but decorated in the the 18th century in the late Baroque style and today it is considered to have one of the most beautiful Rococco styled interiors. The cemetery is often described as the most beautiful graveyard on earth, and indeed it is one of the most tranquil and beautiful spots one can find anywhere. As a haven of peace from the bustle of the street, it is unsurpassed.
Considered as the heart of the old town, Salzburg cathedral is the earliest Italian style church to be built north of the Alps. Dating back to the 8th century it was developed into the biggest Romanesque Minster in German speaking regions in the 12th century by Konrad III and then, when the city centre was being re-developed by Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau in the late 16th century, it was torn down along with many townhouses to make the spacious square we see today. The building now standing was completed in 1655. It’s great claim to fame is that Mozart played the cathedral organ and was baptized in the church font.
Meribel Gardens and Palace
The Sound of Muic - The Film
Although much of the filming was done back in California, there are a lot of sites that can be visited in in and around Salzburg by the dedicated fan. One of the most popular is also the biggest tourist attraction in the New Town, Mirabell’s baroque gardens, from which the views towards the Fortress on the other side of the Salzach River are among the most photographed in the city. In the Northwest corner of the gardens is the Pegasus Statue Fountain around which the Von Trapp children danced while singing Do, Re, Mi, and the terrace steps north of the fountain were also used as a hopping musical scale by Maria and the children. Located in the southwestern corner of the Gardens is the vine tunnel and hedge maze which featured in the movie.
The tourist office has maps of the area which show the relevant places but there are some excellent Sound of Music Tours to be had, on foot, cycling or by bus, and it will save time if you sign up for one of them. If you're not a fan of the film, then there are lots of other interesting tours (found on the same site above). I think the best are the walking tours which are taken at a leisurely pace and allow you to take in all the sights
What to See Outside Salzburg
Outside the city the scenery is stunning, whether you go towards the mountainous regions or towards the lakes. Pongau is about 30 minutes from the city, a peaceful and picturesque town dominated by snowcapped peaks which house one of the biggest ice-caves in the world.
Salzkammergut is an alluring place with crystal clear mountain lakes, jagged rocks and green hills, and on a trip here you can also visit the White Horse Inn in St. Wolfgang.
Berchtesgaden is a familiar name to anyone with a knowledge of the Second World War, for it was here that Adolf Hitler had a house called The Eagle’s Nest. The bus trip is a trifle arduous, but the view when you get there, is breathtaking.
You can even pay a one-day visit to Bratislava in Slovakia, an hour's train ride away and a complete contrast to Salzburg. It is a pleasant place in which to spend time. At certain times of the year it is even possible to make the trip by riverboat which takes just a little longer.
Vienna is also just over an hour's journey by train, again a complete contrast to Salzburg, very cultural, lots of walking, shopping, entertainment etc. If time allows, do include Vienna and while there make sure to visit The Third Man Museum, a museum dedicated to the film of the same name.
Information and picture gallery at Salzburg Tourist Office.
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