Discovering Salzburg

We knew nothing about Salzburg other than it was the birth place of Mozart. So we took another Rick Steves’ walking tour to discover more.

Fast moving Salzach River

The tour started at the river which divides the ‘old town from the new town. The name Salzburg means “Salt Castle”. The name derives from the barges carrying salt from the nearby salt mines and on the River Salzach, which were subject to a toll in the 8th century as was customary for many communities and cities on European rivers.

We then headed into old town. We stumbled across our first Stolpersteine of this trip. A Stolperstein literally “stumbling stone”, is a sett-size, 10x10cm concrete cube bearing a brass plate inscribed with the name and life dates of victims of Nazi extermination or persecution. They commemorate individuals at exactly the last place of residency or work which was freely chosen by the person before they fell victim to the Nazi regime.

Our first stop was Residenzplatz; Residenzplatz is a large, stately square in the historic centre of Salzburg in Austria. Named after the Residenz building of the Prince-Archbishops of Salzburg, adjacent to Salzburg Cathedral. The centre piece s a very large and impressive fountain surrounded by four horses with water spouting from noses and mouth which is a bit strange. The fountain was designed by Tommaso di Garona and erected between 1656 to 1661. The upper basin is topped by a Triton statue ejecting the waters upwards. It is considered the largest Baroque fountain in Central Europe.

Our next stop was Salzburg Cathedral, which is a 17th century Baroque cathedral dedicated to St Rupert and St Vergilius. St Rupert founded the church in 774 on the remnants of a Roman town, the cathedral was rebuilt in 1181 after a fire (which conveniently occurred just as he wanted to build a new cathedral). In the 17th century, the cathedral was completely rebuilt in the Baroque style to its present appearance. Salzburg Cathedral still contains the baptismal font in which composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was baptized.

The next stop was Kapitalplatz. Here we saw a small market, where we grabbed some pretzels for lunch, the Sphaera, and an ornate horse bath. This was overlooked by the impressive set of ramparts on the hill. This is the Hohensalzburg Fortress which sits atop the Festungsberg, a small hill in the Austrian city of Salzburg. Erected at the behest of the Prince-Archbishops of Salzburg with a length of 250 m (820 ft) and a width of 150 m (490 ft), it is one of the largest medieval castles in Europe.

We made our way past an old water wheel that powers a very old bakery and into Petersfriedhof the cemetery of St Peter’s Abbey. The cemetery has catacombs along the base of the cliffs below the castle and Mozart’s sister is buried here.

Rick Steves also touched on the well known film ‘The Sound of Music’ which is based in Salzburg. I’ve never seen the film and although the story is loosely based on the real Von Trapp family, Austrians do not get the cult status of this film and most have not seen it.

The tour then took us into the main shopping streets of old Salzburg which is also where the house that Mozart was born is located. You can tell which house by the numbers of tourists outside! The parallel streets are linked by narrow passageways and in one of these we came across a cake shop selling various strudels. So we purchased an apple and a toffee strudel for later. After a quick browse of the Mozart related souvenirs we made our way back to the van and to our stop overnight in Golling.

After dinner we took a stroll to the top of a nearly hill to bag an Austrian Geocache. It was only 150m from The Van as the crow flies, but a 1km walked in a spiral up the hill! Thankfully it was a lovely evening and the views and the geocache were worth it.

Next we’re heading back into Germany. Much like our geocache, it’s only a short distance away, but as there are massive hills in the way, it’s a bit of a drive!

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