Our first morning in Salzburg, I toured the grounds of the Schloss Leopoldskron*. It was built by the Prince Archbishop of Salzburg, Leopold Anton Freiherr von Firmian who commissioned the house as a family estate in 1736. Upon his death, his body was buried in the Salzburg Cathedral, but his heart was buried beneath the chapel floor of the Schloss; a stone marks the spot. I was surprised to learn that Salzburg was an independent city state until the early 1800s. It was briefly part of France (1803-05) and Bavaria (1809-1815) before definitively becoming part of Austria at the Congress of Vienna.
The grounds are lovely with crumbling statuary and amazing views of the Alps, particularly Mount Untersberg* which is part of both Austria and Germany. Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest is on the German side of this mountain. There is a cable car ride to the top which I hope to take later in the week. I sat enjoying the sun for a while on the bench overlooking the lake and eventually spotted a wooden swing attached to one of the trees and relived my childhood on that for a while. It was a relaxing morning before my city tour in the afternoon.
Our rooms are in the Meierhof which is just to the side of the Schloss and attached to the conference center. I was underwhelmed by our view of the trashcans (particularly Tuesday morning when trash was picked up very early) and would have preferred a lake view or even better, one of the 12 suites in the Schloss. However, our roadside room faces Salzburg and we have an incredible view of the white hilltop fortress..
Many of you know about Salzburg’s connection to the famous 1965 film, The Sound of Music (S of M). A few of you may know the reason for my personal attachment to the film. Some of you may have even recognized some of the views depicted in these photos. Schloss Leopoldskron is connected to the film in several ways. Since that is a post onto itself, keep reading my posts and I will fill you all in on the day I take “The Sound of Music Tour “. Of course I signed up for that. Admit it, you would too. In the mean time, I have noted S of M locations with an asterisk “*”.
After our lunch in the Marble Room of the Schloss, we took a short van ride into town. Our tour guide was dressed in traditional Austrian costume. She was a Brit with a delightful sense of humor who periodically broke into song from the The Sound of Music. Before going around the fortress at ground level, she pointed out the Nonnberg Abbey*, which is also elevated and to the side of the fortress. You can not go under the fortress you must go around, so we wandered into city passing the painted buildings and cobblestone art before coming to Mozartplatz. Salzberg is the birthplace of Wolfgang Almadeus Mozart and a statute to his honor is in this plaza along with the marker designating the city as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a status achieved in 1997.
From Mozartplatz and moving toward the river, you come to the famous sidewalk cafe Furst and terrace dining of Cafe Tomaselli. In the other direction we see the two residences of the Archbishop and the glockenspiel on the clock tower. The bells were removed for a cleaning scheduled to take six months; it took two years. Unlike Munich and Prague, this glockenspiel has no moving figures. The fountains and some of the statuary in the city were still covered to protect them from the winter elements. The coverings will come off in the next few weeks. Salzburg has had a particularly mild winter. We are enjoying lovely sunny days with highs in the upper 5os.
We were along side the Cathedral and near the starting point for the horse drawn carriage rides leaving Residenzplatz. Passing through a lovely archway*, we reached the front entrance to the Cathedral, each of its three doorways noting the years of its construction and major renovations (774, 1628,1959). Like in the other plazas, the fountain statutes were covered. At least this one was clear so you were able to get a feel for what the statute looks like. I was shocked that I was able to catch this shot with no one in the picture. (Go early; things are quiet until about 11 am.) Going through another archway, we reached Kapitelplatz with its modern art and a structure I had never seen before.
In the corner of Kapitelplatz is a horse washing station where horses can be walked right into the water to bathe them or watered. I had never seen anything like it before. There are two in the old city of Salzburg. After leaving Kapitalplatz, we headed towards St. Peters and its monastery. The monks make wonderful bread in a basement bakery, the smell inciting you inside. Outside is a waterwheel which was originally removed in the 1960s when its function became mechanized. So missed by the citizens of Salzburg, it has since been replaced with a decorative only model.
Before reaching St. Peter’s church, we passed through the churchyard cemetery built right into the rock of the mountainside. The gated tombs* were the models for the “hiding scene” in S of M. All the graves feature beautiful iron work headstones and closures. Those in the open graveyard features individual gardens on the ground. The cemetery has strict rules on maintenance. It was quite lovely.
Leaving St. Peter’s, we could see the large festival halls* for Salzburg’s musical festivals in July and August when the city’s population swells from 150,000 to 1 or 2 million. Heading toward the river, we were directly in the path of the Rathaus and its clock tower (and these clock towers actually had the correct time) and the Franciscan church.
We checked out the farmer’s markets in Universitatsplatz near the University Church where Mozart’s requiem is performed each year on the anniversary of his death. All along here there are passthroughs to the main shopping street of Getreidegasse with its wonderful wrought iron signs. Today you see lots of recognizable corporate symbols (like McDonald’s golden arches) over some of the shops, but originally the signs used a picture to let shoppers know what type of store it was in a time when most people could not read. It is nice that the tradition has survived and flourished. Getreidegasse, like most of the streets and plazas that we visited in the old city of Salzburg is pedestrian only. I wonder what a bus tour could show you of Salzburg. Other than one way (and not the most direct) of getting from one spot to the other, a hop on hop off bus might be of little use in visiting the major sites.
Mozart’s birthplace is along the Getreidegasse; our guide told us that it was the most photographed building in all of Salzburg. This is the one spot in town that Boris really wants to visit. We were very close to the river, so we walked across a footbridge covered in locks. Apparently, Salzburg like Prague claims it was the first to start the tradition of a young couple adding a padlock to the bridge and then throwing away the key.
After crossing the footbridge, the first stop was Mozart’s second family home in Salzburg. Nearby was the Schloss Mirabell, build by the Archbishop of Salzburg for his mistress and mother of his 14 children. Today the castle is famous for its garden with the Pegasus fountain*, steps*, and dwarf platform* used in the filming of the “Do Re Mi” scene in the Sound of Music. Unfortunately, we are too early for the true beauty of the garden. While the pansies are lovely, the trees remain leafless and pruned and brown is still the dominate color.
We ended our city tour here, but all it did was wet my appetite. English speakers, I can highly recommend our tour guide Trudy, born British but a Salzburg native for many years. I think a return visit tomorrow morning is in order. After that it is the apple strudel making class that Boris signed me up for. I know he just wants me to make it for him at home. Trudy did tell me about her favorite shop for apple strudel in town; instead of a class, a purchase might be in order.