The Heart of Austria's Music, History, and Alpine Beauty
Our game plan was to drive to Salzburg from Munich, 159 kilometers on the A94 Autobahn and we were looking forward to being able to drive at autobahn speeds most of the way (speed limits are in effect near various cities). Unfortunately, there was some disturbance on the autobahn that backed up traffic for miles and so our autobahn trip turned into a 20 mph "average speed" with frequent pauses.
Visiting Salzburg, Austria is like stepping into a storybook world where the past seamlessly merges with the present. This enchanting city, often known as the "City of Mozart" and the "Rome of the North," offers a captivating blend of history, culture, and natural beauty.
Exploring the historic Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is like taking a journey back in time. Wander through winding cobblestone streets, admire exquisite baroque architecture, and visit iconic landmarks like Hohensalzburg Fortress, which provides panoramic views of the city and the stunning Alps.
- The Sound of Music was filmed here! And you can stay at Hotel Schloss Leopolskron, which you might recognize as the Von Trapp house!
- The famous Red Bull drink was created in Salzburg.
- Salzburg literally means "salt castle" due to all of the salt mining done around the city.
- Prior to 1816, Salzburg was its own country, separate from the rest of Austria.
- Europe’s oldest restaurant, St. Peter Stiftskeller (opened in 803) here and is built into the side of the mountain.
- During WWII, the city was bombed heavily, with almost half of the city’s buildings destroyed. There are still hundreds of unexploded bombs from the air strikes that remain in the city today, that are periodically discovered.
- Fortress Hohensalzburg (which sits above the city) is the largest and most fully-preserved fortress in central Europe. Initial construction on it began in 1077.
The Hallein Salt Mine (AKA the Salt Mine Durnberg) is an ancient underground salt mine located in the town of Hallein, Austria. It has been in operation for over 2,500 years and was one of the most important sources of salt in the region during the Middle Ages. Today, it is open to the public and offers an exciting glimpse into the history of salt mining.
Visitors can take a guided tour of the mine, which includes a train ride deep into the mountain and a walk through the underground chambers and tunnels. The tour also includes a visit to the miners' slide, a wooden slide used by the miners to quickly descend to lower levels of the mine.
The Salt Mine Dürrnberg is located only a few miles south of Salzburg, on the western side of the River Salzach, high up on a hill overlooking the river and just beyond the village of Hallein. To enter you are required to purchase tickets, and wear coveralls, in order to protect you (and your clothing) from all the salt and salt water found inside the salt mine.
Once everyone was suited up, we all walked to the mine entrance, and got onto a very small train, which then takes us into the mine.
After the mini train reaches as far as it can go, everyone dismounts and the walking tour of the mine commences. At one point, we actually crossed back into Germany, giving you an idea of how large this mine is.
As the mine is comprised of multiple levels, the access from level to level is via long wooden slides, which are polished to a high shine due to the incredible number of coverall wearing visitors who have slid down them!
Rolling along on the mini-train, headed to where the salt mine walking tour started. It was probably not quite a kilometer or two inside the mountain, but it was a rather fun way to cover that distance!
Mining is no longer performed there, as they have discovered that using water to percolate through the salt, produces a very briny fluid which is then left to dry, to produce high quality salt.
After our tour concluded, we drove back to Salzburg to visit the Hohensalzburg Festung, which sits high on a hill above the city. Salzburg is split down the middle by the River Salzach, with the "old city" on the side of the river nearest the Festung, and the "new city" on the other side. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg in the 18th century, and the movie "Sound of Music" was filmed in and around this city.
Festung Hohensalzburg Ramparts
The fortress was originally designed as a stronghold to protect the Archbishop of Salzburg from attacks. Over the centuries, it has been expanded and renovated several times, and now features a variety of architectural styles, including Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque.
Construction of the Fortress was started in 1077, standing 506 meters above the city of Salzburg it is the oldest & largest fortress in Austria. See the Wikipedia Article for more details about the fortress.
The palace was built about 1606 on the shore of the Salzach river north of the medieval city walls, at the behest of Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich Raitenau and it was initially named Schloss Altenau.
The Palace gardens feature a variety of sculptures, fountains, and flower beds, as well as several pathways and walkways that provide stunning views of the palace and the surrounding city.
Parking in Salzburg during tourist season is always a challenge, but we found the CONTIPARK Tiefgarage Mirabell-Congress-Garage underground parking lot near the Mirabell Palace. We had to walk through the palace grounds on our way to the "old city" on the western side of the Salzach River, which was only a few kilometers away.
Mirabell Palace with the Festung in the Distance
There is our goal, all we have to do is walk through the Palace grounds, cross over the Salzach River on the Karolinen Brücke and wind our way through Old Town.
Mirabell Palace was built in 1606 by the Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau as a symbol of his love for his mistress, Salome Alt. The palace underwent significant renovations in the 18th century and was later used by the royalty of the city.
The Palace is a popular tourist attraction, known for its stunning architecture, intricate detailing, and beautiful gardens. The palace is surrounded by beautifully manicured gardens that feature a wide variety of flowers, plants, and sculptures. The most famous part of the gardens is the Pegasus Fountain, which is considered to be one of the most beautiful fountains in Europe.
The Mozartplatz is a rectangular square in the Altstadt (the "old town" of Salzburg), which was created by the demolition of various town houses under Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau in 1588. The square is named after Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the famous classical composer who was born and raised in Salzburg.
At the center of Mozartplatz Altstadt is a statue of Mozart, which was erected in 1842 to commemorate the composer's life and legacy. The statue stands tall and proud, overlooking the square and serving as a symbol of the city's deep connection to classical music.
Surrounding the square are numerous cafes, restaurants, and shops, where visitors can enjoy traditional Austrian cuisine and purchase souvenirs to take home. The buildings in the area are well-preserved, showcasing the city's charming architecture and historical significance.
If you are walking from the Karolinen to the Festung, you will most likely walk through or past this area. The Festungsgasse will bring you past the plaza to the Festung entrance in about 10 minutes of walking.
Salzburg Cathedral Altstadt
If you are walking along the Festungsgasse, you are going to walk past the southern side of the Cathedral. This
seventeenth-century Baroque cathedral is dedicated to Saint Rupert and Saint Vergilius. Saint Rupert founded the
church in 774 on the remnants of a Roman town, the cathedral was rebuilt in 1181 after a fire. In the seventeenth
century, the cathedral was completely rebuilt in the Baroque style under Prince-Bishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau
to its present appearance. Salzburg Cathedral still contains the baptismal font in which composer Wolfgang
Amadeus Mozart was baptized.
NOTE: Image is the property of Mattis via Wikimedia Commons.
This is the Festung Hohensalzburg, a magnificent example of a fortress originally built by a Catholic Archbishop starting in 1077. This view of the Fortress is from the eastern side, and you can see "old Salzburg" at the foot of the Festung's mountain. It might not be easy to discern, but this Festung is one of the largest medieval castles in Europe.
Inside the fortress, a treasure trove of historical artifacts, exhibitions, and museums awaits. The Salzburg Bull, a magnificent organ dating back to 1502, is a highlight for music enthusiasts. The fortress also houses the Fortress Museum, providing insights into medieval life and military history.
Festung Hohensalzburg inner Courtyard
The fortress consists of various wings and a large courtyard. The Prince-Bishop's apartments are located in the so-called "Hoher Stock" (high floor).
As one steps into this enchanting square, they are transported back in time to the days when this citadel served as a crucial bastion of defense. The inner courtyard is marked by its cobbled pathways, well-maintained gardens, and charming archways. Here, visitors can explore various historical artifacts, learn about the castle's rich history, or simply savor the panoramic views of Salzburg's old town and the surrounding Alpine landscape.
View of Salzburg from the Festung
This is the view from the highest point in the Festung looking east, with the old city below. Gives you some idea of the height of the Festung doesn't it? Google says that the Festung altitude is 506 meters (1,660 feet) and the average elevation of Salzburg is 1,390 feet above sea level.
The church in the center of this image is the Salzburg Cathedral, a seventeenth-century Baroque cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Salzburg.
The River Salzach looks like it is quite far away, but in reality it is only perhaps 1/2 mile away.
Image # 1: After walking around the Festung, as well as old Salzburg, and since the European heat wave was still in effect, we found an outdoor cafe and had some cold drinks before going back to pick up our Renault, to head back to Munich.
This was at the Café Glockenspiel very near the Mozartplatz, outdoor seating with umbrellas.
Image # 2: Can there possibly be anything as refreshing as an iced coffee on a hot day?
On 8 August 2013 Temperatures in Austria exceeded 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees fahrenheit) for the first time since temperature records were recorded. Click here to read a Washington Post article about the heat wave in 2013.
Eisreisenwelt (World of the Ice Giants) Cave
Located on the western side of the Austrian A-10 (51.2 kilometers) south of Salzburg, are the Eisreisenwelt Ice Caves. Discovered in 1897 and for 35 years, the cave was only reachable by foot. A cable car was constructed in 1955 for the steepest part of the trail (from 1,086 meters to 1,586 meters). In 2015 a new cable car system was installed.
Did I fail to mention that the Eisreisenwelt is the largest ice cave in the world? Extending more than 42 km and visited by about 200,000 tourists every year.
- Just Traveling Thru European Travel Tips
- Just Traveling Thru Travel Planning Tips
- Salzburg History on the 'Britannica' site
- Things to see & do in Salzburg on the 'Crazy Tourist' site
- Things to see & do in Salzburg on the 'Travel US News' site
- Things to see & do in Salzburg on the 'Culture Trip' site
- Google search results list for "Salzburg Restaurants"
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