Friday, August 4, 2017

In Salzburg, Austria the hills are always alive with the "sound of music"

Salzburg captures the imagination with its architecture and
musical heritage  (
SALZBURG, AUSTRIA  The old adage goes 'good things come in small packages." If that is true, then Salzburg, Austria may just be the origin the saying. Despite being the fourth largest city in the country, Salzburg's compact size combined with its multitude of things to see and do make it a traveler's gem.
Salzburg was the site of
"The Sound of Music"
Thanks to Julie Andrews and "The Sound of Music", most Americans probably know Salzburg better from the popular 1965 film than they do as the birthplace of Mozart, but no matter Salzburg, as with Vienna, always returns to its musical heritage.

There is no such thing in Salzburg as "too much Mozart."

Nestled along the banks of the Salzach River with the dominating Hohensalzburg Castle (Festung Hohensalzburg) overlooking the Old Town, it is easy to get the sensation that Salzburg is smaller than it really is.
Hohensalburg, one of the largest castles in Europe. overlooks
the Salzach River  (wikipedia)
Hohensalzburg, one of the largest castles in Europe, peers protectively from its perch at the northern boundary of the Alps where it was one of the key backdrops in "Sound of Music" and has long been a favorite destination for visitors.

Old Town has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1997 and it only takes a few minutes walk through the meandering narrow streets filled with a Gothic and Baroque architecture to see why. Salzburg is a city of churches and palaces that capture the imagination of travelers from every corner of the planet, especially Americans.
Mozart was born in Salzburg
The name Salzburg means "salt fortress" thanks to the abundance of salt mines in the region.
Germany sits on the opposite shore of the Salzach, making Salzburg an easy place to use as a base to visit much of Bavaria as well as Austria.

Salzburg is not a place to rushed. Rather it is a destination that should be absorbed through the pores for it is an ideal location to immerse yourself into all the reasons people say they want to travel.

Though Austrians find amusement in the hordes of Americans who sign up for one of the "Sound of Music" tours, there is no denying the revenues derived are no laughing matter for the city.
In Salzburg, Mozart has been proudly cherished for centuries
Several companies operate SOM trips which include visiting many sites in Salzburg proper where the film was shot, as well as an excursion into the countryside to visit the church where Maria and the Baron were married. Don't be surprised if the church looks smaller than it did in the film.
Hellbrunn Palace is one of Salzburg's most popular attractions
One of the best parts of the trip is the fascinating trivia  guides provide which some might say ruins the story, but which also puts the true history into more proper perspective.

For example, late in the movie when the von Trapps are escaping from Austria and heading to Switzerland, the guides point out that if the family actually went in the direction depicted in the film they would really be crossing back into Germany instead. But that's only a detail and all part of the fun.
Mirabell Palace is famous for its
gardens  (wikipedia)
Among the sites not to be missed are the previously mentioned Hohensalzburg Castle, the historic city center, Salzburg Cathedral, Mozart's birthplace as well as his residence, the Franciscan Church and Residenzgalerie, an art museum in the Salzburg Residenz.

If that isn't enough to occupy your time, explore Mirabell Palace with its fabulous display of gardens, flowers and fountains.

There is also SchlossLeopoldskreon, a rococo palace and national historic monument as well as Hellbrunn with its world famous "water games" designed Markus Sittikus, Do not go if you are afraid to get wet.
Ludwig II's Neuschwanstein is near Salzburg for a great day
trip  (wikipedia)
With its proximity to Germany, Salzburg is also a great base for day trips to Ludwig II's Neuschwanstein Castle, Oberammergau (home of the Passion Play), fun loving and festive Munich and Hitler's "Eagles Nest" (Berchtesgaden) sitting atop Germany's third highest mountain overlooking Salzburg about 20 miles away. 
Hitler's Eagle's Nest retreat is close to Salzburg in nearby
Berchtesgadan  (wikipedia)
Along the main street in Old Town is a tiny shop which is sometime difficult to find because they do not advertise or use the internet to promote. The shop is a treasure trove of painted eggs that make superb gifts for Easter and/or Christmas. Some are works of art in their own right, and therefore you will likely not get a bargain, but it's worth the effort to find it and, if nothing else, window shop its unique array of gifts.
Don't miss Hellbrunn Palace
with its trick fountains
One word of caution, unless you have reserved hotels well in advance, Salzburg is NOT the place to visit during a music festival, especially if it features Mozart. The throngs of visitors crammed into the narrow labyrinth of streets is not conducive to an enjoyable experience.
Otherwise, Salzburg is a gem of Tyrolian culture and justly calls itself the "stage of the world." It is certainly the place where as Julie Andrews sang "The hills  indeed) come alive with the sound of music."