Located beside the Salzach River, the beautiful domes and spires, magnificent clifftop fortress and majestic mountains, make Salzburg picture perfect, and was home to the once all powerful prince-archbishops till the beginning of the nineteenth century.
Salzburg’s another major, if not historic, attraction is the famous movie, Sound of Music, which narrates the story of the von Trapp Family, which was filmed extensively in Salzburg and its surroundings.
It was a movie about a novice, Maria von Trapp and her singing family, starring Julie Andrews in the main role, which went on to become a truly pan international hit. The songs from “The Sound of Music” are sung even now throughout the world. How many of us have not sung “Doe, a deer, a female deer…”.
Every year, nearly 300,000 people visit Salzburg just to take in the sites made famous by the von Trapp Family.
Besides the well-known connection of Salzburg with Mozart and The Sound of Music, the burgeoning art scene, fabulous food, beautiful parks and concert halls where traditional musicals are held throughout the year, are also to be experienced.
Let not the opulence of art and architecture fatigue you. Move away from the main streets and step onto the side ones, where you can hear mellifluous music as it floats from open windows and enjoy Salzburg unhurriedly, while sipping a cup of coffee with cake.
The view from Fortress Hohensalzburg
Go to the top of the fortress and look down to admire the spectacular baroque architecture that blends seamlessly with the natural beauty of the Salzburg,
A pilgrimage to the Rome of the North
The elaborate baroque churches were meant not only to celebrate God but also herald the importance and power of the ruling prince-archbishop during the 17th century.
Concerts, operas, and more
Soak in the 1300 years of the city’s musical history as you experience and marvel listening to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s music in the Marble Hall of the Mirabell Palace. The opulent operas and innumerable music festivals showcase the best of world class talent in various genres of music, and you will be spoilt for choices in this city of art and music. Even the choral music that reverberates from majestic churches after Mass is just mind-blowing
After taking in the opulence and grandeur of the Aldstadt, cross the Salzach river to get an entirely different perspective of the medieval lifestyle where working people once lived in the narrow, 16th century Steingasse. Now the area is full of shops, clubs and galleries.
Take a trip down, preferably by boat, to Schloss Hellbrunn, a Renaissance style palace with trick fountains, verdant surroundings best suited for picnics, and the famous gazebo where the some of the song sequences were filmed for the film, “Sound of Music”.
Salzburg airport lies about four kilometres west of the city. It is Austria’s second largest international airport and is well served by direct flights from London and other European cities.
Salzburger Mietwagen runs buses to and from the airport. From Salzburg airport reaching downtown is easiest by taxi, which costs around Euro 15 to 18 and takes about 20 minutes. Every 15 minutes, a city bus no.2 makes a stop by the airport. It runs to Salzburg’s train station in 20 minutes. Bus no.8 runs to the city centre directly.
Salzburg can be reached by rail from many European cities. The main train station, Salzburg Hauptbahnhof, is just a 20 minute walk from the centre of the town in the direction of Mirabellplatz. A cab will take you to the city centre in 10 minutes and costs Euro 10. The ‘Bayern Ticket’ of the Deutsche Bahn helps you travel on all regional trains to Salzburg and costs Euro 22 per adult and Euro 38 for a group of five.
The construction of the city commenced on a grand scale during the reign of Wolf-Dietrich von Raitenau in the latter part of the 16th century. Wolf Dietrich was only 28 when envisioned ‘his’ Salzburg to be the Rome of the Alps, with a grander cathedral than St. Peter’s, a more splendid Residenz than a Roman palace and his private Mirabell Gardens flaunting the most fashionable Italianate horticulture.
The Bavarian rulers deposed him and the cultured and refined prince-archbishops took over. The masters of Viennese Baroque, Fischer von Erlach and Lukas von Hildebrandt, were commanded by the prince-archbishops, Johann Ernst von Thun and Franz Anton von Harrach, to complete Wolf-Dietrich’s vision, and the resultant product is that nowhere else in the world has Baroque architecture so harmoniously and cohesively represented elsewhere than in Salzburg’s buildings and architecture.
Panoramic view of Salzburg skyline with FestungHohensalzburg and river Salzach
The Altstadt: Salzburg has 1300 years of continuous history of music, which is best experienced in its concert halls, churches, restaurants, bars and even in its city aquares.
Fortress Hohensalzburg: The medieval fortress is an enchanting attraction and offers panoramic views of Salzburg.
North of the River Salzach. The old and the new architectures blend beautifully and merge picturesquely well with the nature all around from its verdant gardens to the rolling hills.
Residenzplatz is on the left bank of Salzach at the heart of Salzburg’s old town (Altstadt). It is one of the city’s largest square. It is the best place to begin exploring the other attractions of the city. Residenzbrunnen, a magnificent masterpiece of marble made by an Italian sculptor in 1661, is the focal point of Residenzplatz, with its finest Baroque fountain, standing 15 metres high. There are figures of majestic horses, with the Atlas bearing the dishes. It also has sculpted on it, dolphins and the centrepiece, Triton with a conch shell, which crowns everything.
Terraced cafes, boutique shops lining the adjoining streets, the Salzburg cathedral and the Residenz (the former residence of the Bishops) – all have their unique charm. Concerts are periodically held in the square. Public New Year’s Eve parties and an interesting Christmas market are also held in the square.
The highlights are the Knights’ Hall (Rittersaal), the Conference Hall (Konferenzsaal), and the Audience Hall (Audienzsaal) with Flemish tapestries from the 1600s, Parisian furniture, the Louis XVI style (1776) stucco ornaments fill the White Hall (Weisse Saal), the 18th century silk carpets decorated Function Room (Gesellschaftszimmer) and the portraits of Holy Roman Emperors and Habsburg dynasty Kings fill the Imperial Hall (Kaisersaal). Established in 1923, Residenzgalerie, the art gallery exhibiting the works of European painters from the 16th to 19th centuries include paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens and Brueghel, is also of equal importance.
Some of the highlights include the courtyard with a church of St. George (Georgsirche) dating back to 1502 and the Salzburg Bull (Salzburger Stier), an organ that still plays daily the carillon in the Neugebaude. The lavish Princes’ apartments in late Gothic décor and finely painted wooden panelling, the Golden Room (Goldene Stube) with marble doorways and the Golden Hall with gold embossed on blue coffered ceiling and columns of red marble are also worth visiting.
The Fortress Museum with weapons and torture devices and the Rainer Regiment museum that has artefacts from the old Salzburg household regiment on exhibit are also interesting places to visit.
The Benedictine Abbey of St. Peter (Erzabtei St. Peter) was founded by St. Rupert in 690 A.D. on the western side of Salzburg’s Kapitelplatz. It served as the residence of the Archbishops until 1110. Dating back to the 17th and the 18th centuries, the present buildings stand as odes to the architectural skills of that period. Its onion shaped tower is one of its kind in Europe. St. Peter’s Churchyard (Friedhof St. Peter) is a burial ground encompassed by arcades and family tombs of the 17th century on three sides. It backs onto the rock face of the Monchsberg to the south. Early Christian catacombs and St Maximus’ Chapel hewn from solid rocks, can be seen there. The churchyard and the outer courtyard is connected by a passage where there is a St. Peter’s fountain (Petrusbrunnen), built in 1673, and the Haydn memorial that depicts the life and work of Johann Michael Haydn, the brother of Joseph Haydn, the famous composer.
Nonnberg Abbey, founded in 714 AD, is yet another landmark in Salzburg.
The New Building (Neugebäude) erected in 1602 as the Archbishop’s guesthouse, is opposite the Salzburg Residenz. It was expanded in 1670. Since the Prince-Archbishop Wolf-Dietrich’s archiepiscopal court couldn’t fit into the main Residenz across the plaza, this building was built as an extension, featuring 10 state reception rooms. The Hallstatt Age relics, remains of the ancient Roman ruins and the Celtic bronze flagon are highlights of the archaeological collection.
The notable festivals include The Salzburg Festival has been held here since 1925. It is a five-week long summer event that showcases the best of European music and drama. Mozart week is a week long winter event focusing on his works and Salzburg cultural days is an annual two week festival in October that includes symphonic and chamber concerts and opera performances. The Salzburg Marionette Theatre, one of the oldest puppet theatres in Europe, established in 1913, will give you a totally different theatrical experience.
The Mirabellgarten stretches south of Schloss Mirabell. It exemplifies Baroque style in its beautiful landscape, designed in 1690, with many terraces, marble statues and fountains. It was an aviary in the 18th century, which is now used for exhibitions. A small open air theatre is at the southwestern corner of the gardens.
If the Ikarus Restaurant is an expensive proposition for you, then the Mayday Bar is an economical option.
It presents spectacular views, from its cable cars, or from atop the hiking trails that offer 360 degree views of the mountains.
The Flauchen ski region is perfect for occasional skiers and boarders who are interested to explore the city and the piste. Hotel rates at Salzburg are lower in the winter but the resorts hike their prices.
Near the village of Werfen, on a mountain, is the largest ice cave, Eisriesenwelt. A bus ride followed by a cable car ride and a 40 minute uphill hike will take you there. The breath-taking views on the way make the trouble worth it. The 1400 steps around ice walls, tunnels and a polar bear shaped stalagmite and stalactite formation can be seen inside.
The salt mines gave the city its name and wealth. A few of the salt mines are open for the visitors. A German town, Berchtesgaden lying 26 km south, is the most interesting of the salt mines. Little trains, miner’s slides, funiculars and a raft over an underground lake gets you through the 500 year old mine. A huge salt shrine and an educational centre are its subterranean highlights.