Saturday, January 31, 2015

One Day in Salzburg

We went to Salzburg on a whim, a detour from our original destination of Innsbruck. We spent almost 24 hours in the city and, since it was a last-minute destination, we didn't have any sightseeing plans. When we arrived it was dark, the sun sets at 4 pm in Austria during the winter, so we didn't do much other than go out for food and drinks (which you can read more about here).
Not having any plans in Salzburg was nice. We didn't feel rushed or stressed or have any expectations so we just meandered around the Old City until it was time to board the train to Innsbruck. 
We crossed over the Salzach river that slices historic Altstadt (Old City) in half. Multi-colored buildings and bare trees spread alongside the banks of the rivers and gulls hovered above, searching the freezing Alpine water for a meal.
Near the river is Mirabell Palace, a baroque treasure built in the 17th century for Salome Alt, the mistress of Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau. Before you assume a juicy love affair, Salome was the "mistress" only because, as Catholicism mandates, he was not allowed to marry as an archbishop.  The gardens of Mirabell are of an elaborate, well-manicured, geometric design with mythological statues, fountains, and paths. The scene from A Sound of Music when Julie Andrews and the kids sing the Do-Re-Mi song was filmed in the gardens.
After strolling through the Mirabell gardens we made our way back to our side of town, crossing over the Salzach river again, but this time via the main bridge, the busy Makartsteg. In keeping with the modern European tradition of attaching padlocks to fences on bridges as a symbol of everlasting love, the Makartsteg is covered in colorful locks; thousands of tiny sun catchers with dreams of true love safely tucked inside. 
Our hotel was just outside of Altstadt, connected to the Old City by the Neutor road tunnel (the oldest one in Austria) which was blown through the Mönchsberg Mountain in the late 1700s. Both entrances to the tunnel show depictions honoring the Prince Archbishop Siegmund Schrattenbach, who had the tunnel made. Today two pedestrian tunnels diverge from the original: one leads you to Salzburg University and the other to the Pferdeschwemmen, the Horse Pond. The Horse Pond was built in 1693, part of the construction of the royal stables. Currently the "Horse Tamer" statue in the middle of the well is being protected from pigeons, which is why it has that plastic box around it. We saw many statues in the same condition so tourists and locals are urged not to feed the pigeons in Austria.
The other pedestrian tunnel that connects to the university also leads you to Salzburg's Cathedral Square, an area saturated with so much history it's almost overwhelming. The square is surrounded by a trinity of awesome: St. Peter's Abbey, The Salzburger Dom, and the Residenz Castle. Structures that can be traced back to the Middle Ages when Bavaria and the Holy Roman Empire were struggling for dominance, which is why Salzburg architecture is a mix of Gothic and Baroque styles, like St. Peter's Abbey and the Residenz Castle (where the many Prince Archbishops resided for hundreds of years). Each one of these three significant physical structures has so many historical layers to it that it would be impossible to simplify them in any other way than to just say they are extraordinary.
I lied about not making any plans while in Salzburg. The only plan I had was to see Mozart's birthplace, which we did! We didn't go into his childhood home, now a museum, because we didn't have time and it was absolutely packed with people- it's one of the most visited museums in the world. But it was still amazing to see it and stand in the street in front of it, contemplating that young Mozart once stood in the same spot and walked along the same street, his head full of music and promise.
I will definitely go back to Salzburg the next time I visit Austria because spending one day there made me realize how much I still need to see and learn about "The Rome of the North". Plus, I definitely need to go on that 4 hour Sound Of Music tour, even if the locals scoff at it, because when you're a tourist you may as well go all in. Have a great weekend everyone!


Anonymous said...

It was nice to meander around. The tunnel was most impressive to me. That thing was just carved right through the mountain leaving that crazy view at the top of all the different architecture styles going to battle. Great post ma lass. -C

Mami said...

So pretty! We have to go back in Spring or Summer when everything is bright and full of flowers!

COOOOOOT said...

wOW, i Am (oops, capslock on) on overload (in a good way) reading these last three posts back-to-back! How incredible your experience there and then documenting it with photography and history lessons. Wow! Thank you! You make me want to go sooooo bad, even after reading the flying sux article Papi sent. Also, how cute is Mami when she wears beanies with her bangs sticking out, like in that one pic. How cute!!
I also really love your coat--it finally came out in nearly all it's glory (glory hole!! hehe) in your transport post. Forgot to comment on that, too. SO MUCH!