Salzburg, a baroque city on the banks of the Salzach River is one of the most beautiful cities, not only in Austria, but in Europe as a whole. It is a mass of churches and tiny streets with the magnificient Hohensalzburg Fortress looming over it all. Everywhere is really full of sweet music, whether it is Mozart (born in Salzburg) or The Sound of Music (filmed in this area).
Mozart was born in Salzburg in 1756 and the composer's association with the city continues to draw lots of tourists who come here to visit his birthplace - the Getreidehaus. Mozart did not live here though for much of his adult life - in fact some reports claim he hated Salzburg. He couldn't wait to leave his hometown and get to Vienna. Salzburg audiences did not appreciate him, he complained.
But today Salzburg appreciates him. He is the main tourism draw with a huge Mozart festival every summer, a Mozart week in January and frequent concerts in the concert hall.
Everything in the city is clustered around the River Salzach. The Old Town is on one side, the New Town is on the other and the Monchsberg and Kapuzineburg mountains are either side. Most visitors come to see the Old Town. It is a section of narrow streets (many dating from the Middle Ages) and slender houses. Here you will find the cathedral and Mozart's birthplace.
The Sound of Music settings are everywhere too - especially the fountains and steps of Mirabell Gardens.
Art lovers and museum fiends will find plenty of ways to keep themselves entertained in the city as it prides itself in being a destination for culture. The Old Town was named as a World Heritage site in 1997.
There are endless cobblestone streets to explore, outdoor markets and restaurants - something for everyone. It is one of the most romantic destinations in Europe - a chocolate box beauty of tall churches and rambling cobbled streets, topped off with a castle. Not a lot has changed since the 18th century, but it is well geared to tourists. There are charming luxury hotels, Mozartkugel chocolates and numerous classical music recitals. It is a perfect weekend break destination for those who like their city breaks with a serious dash of culture.
Our highlights during our stay were:
- taking the funicular up the steep hill to the Hohensalzburg fortress, enjoying the wonderful views of the city below and exploring the many nooks and crannies of the castle.
- strolling along the Getreidegasse with its wonderful wrought iron signs and lovely shops, browsing in the shop windows and stopping for drinks in one of the many beer gardens.
- seeing the trick fountains at Hellbrunn Palace. They are fun, interesting, historical, unusual and an absolute must-see.
- going one evening to the Sound of Salzburg Show. It is extremely touristy and a bit gimmicky but fun nonetheless. My husband is not especially a Sound of Music fan, but he still did enjoy the show.
- wandering through the wonderful Old Town streets, listening to the buskers and street performers and soaking up the atmosphere. During our visit there was some sort of choral festival - it was fantastic - choirs performing everywhere in traditional Austrian dress, and then the highlight at the end of the afternoon when they all came together outside the cathedral and sang in the square as one. It was spine tingling.