Soggy but sweet
25.05.2019 - 31.05.2019 16 °C
A couple of nights in Oslo, then it was goodbye to Norway and Scandinavia and on to Salzburg, Austria for a little taste of Europe before heading home.
And what a charming city to end our holiday in!
The first thing you say when arriving in Salzburg is ‘WOW’ as you catch sight of the Hohensalzburg Fortress, dominating the skyline 506 metres above the rooftops of the Old Town below. Dating from the 11th century, it is one of the largest intact medieval fortresses in Europe.
The city is nestled in the Alps and divided by the Salzach River, with medieval and baroque buildings of the pedestrian Aldstadt (Old Town) on its left bank, facing the 19th-century Neustadt (New Town) on its right.
No matter where you are in Salzburg, from the opposite bank, New Town
From Mirabell Gardens in the New Town
From a bridge across the Salzach river
Or further down the river
From the ridge on the walk back from the fortress into Auldstadt
From the streets below in the Old Town
and even at night,
the fortress looms over the city. This has not always been so, as it started life as a simple watchtower but was gradually expanded over the centuries by various archbishops in response to the development of more powerful weaponry with ever-greater ranges. It reached its current form in the 16th century with a length of 250 m and a width of 150 m to make it one of the largest as well as the best preserved medieval castles in Europe. Despite this, it has never faced a real siege.
The large inner courtyard of the fortress today.
History of the development of Hohensalzburg Fortress
It is readily accessible either by funicular or a 15 minute uphill walk.
From the fortress, there are wonderful views of the picturesque UNESCO listed Old Town whose skyline is characterised by the spires and domes of the many churches of Salzburg.
With its narrow streets and small squares, its baroque architecture and the colourful facades of the houses, the Old Town is a pretty package that is easy to walk around. The main squares around which many of Salzburg’s historical buildings can be found, are interconnected making it easy to explore.
Residenzplatz Square which hosts the famous Christmas markets each December is the largest and most famous. It is bordered by the Salzburg Cathedral and museum and features a large fountain in the center of the square. This is also famous as one of the sites where the 1965 movie ‘The Sound of Music’ was filmed.
Cathedral or Dom Square - Salzburg Cathedral
Mozartplatz, one of the smaller squares features a statue in its centre of its favourite son Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart who was born and raised here. It wasn’t until 50 years after his death that he was fully appreciated and today his influence is everywhere, with monuments, concerts, chocolates, liqueurs and souvenirs of all descriptions named after him.
Some of the many Mozart confections. Mozartkugels, delicious balls of chocolate, marzipan and pistachio - yum!
St Peter’s was founded in the 7th century and the church and Abbey have been the spiritual heart of the city of Salzburg. This delightful little cemetery with its elaborately decorated gravestones and catacombs beside St Mary’s Chapel in the grounds of St Peter’s is believed to be one of the world’s oldest and most beautiful cemeteries. Mozart’s sister is buried here along with other famous people but it is better known as the place where the Von Trapp family hid from the Nazi’s in the catacombs in ‘The Sound of Music’ before escaping to Switzerland.
The entrance to St Peter’s Restaurant, Stiftskulinarium, set within the walls of St Peter’s Abbey, is claimed to be the oldest restaurant in Europe.
And within the restaurant, this beautiful baroque ballroom where nightly Mozart dinner concerts are held. Unfortunately booked out during our stay but we attended a concert and dinner at the fortress for a little taste of Mozart and other Austrian composers Strauss, Schubert and Haydn.
As well as all these historical sites, not far away is the old town of Salzburg’s most famous shopping street, Getreidegasse. With its eye catching metal signs adorning the facades of the smart shops below it is a drawcard as much to admire the characterful street as to shop.
Traditional clothes displayed in lots of shop windows also add to the character of the precinct. We wondered why there were so many shops selling this stuff, but after we’d been there a couple of days there was a religious holiday and it was lovely to see lots of people wandering around dressed in their traditional clothing.
The Elefant Hotel in the centre of the Old Town which we called home for 4 nights
As well as Mozart, Salzburg also promotes itself as the city that delivered The Sound of Music, and tours to the sites both in the city and the hills surrounding Salzburg are popular.
However, we resisted and instead did a ‘Lakes and Mountains’ tour, which showed us the sort of scenery that we would consider quintessentially Austrian, with steep snow capped pine tree clad hills and chalet type homes beside beautiful lakes. Beautiful!
The charming village of St Wolfgang was a highlight of the tour.
Unfortunately, our stay in Salzburg will not be remembered for its sunny weather!
And the next day! And the next!
However, it will be remembered as a delightful town with a perfect blend of history, culture and character that has provided a great end to our wonderful trip.
Hope you’ve enjoyed it too.
Thanks to Keith for his help with some of the research and text.
Till next time,
Maggie & Keith