In my previous post, I wrote about my experience in Salzburg on the Sound of Music movie tour. Salzburg was on my bucket list specifically for the Sound of Music tour, but what I also found was that the city of Salzburg is so much more. It was a winter wonderland! If you want to read about my experience on this tour, check out my previous post and continue reading this post to find out more about what Salzburg has to offer!
Salzburg’s Old Town is picture perfect
I’ve been to many cities in Europe and have seen many “Old Towns”, but to me, Salzburg’s Old Town is a cut above the rest. Salzburg’s Old Town has been designated as a world heritage site by UNESCO and when you visit the site, it is obvious why. Old Town is located next to the Salzach River and features many uniquely designed buildings, cobblestone pathways and is almost completely a pedestrian zone.
One of my favourite places in Old Town is Residenz Palace and the square that surrounds it. When we first set eyes on the square, we felt like we had traveled back in time, to a time when horse-drawn carriages transported people around the city centre. These horse-drawn carriages can be hired for tours. but we decided to continue walking around Old Town while enjoying the Old world charm.
The Fortress in the sky
We could not keep our eyes off the Fortress Hohensalburg, which is located high above the mountains that overlook this beautiful city. The Fortress was a castle that once housed generations of Prince-Archbishops and it is one of the largest and well-preserved medieval castles in Europe. The easiest way to reach the fortress is by funicular, which takes you up the mountain within minutes. If you fancy a walk, you can also walk up the mountain for approximately 15 minutes.
We spared our tired feet and decided to take the funicular up to the fortress (11 Euros including entrance free). When we arrived at the top, we were greeted by 360 degree views of Salzburg ! The castle had a mystical feel as a slight fog had started to gather. We enjoyed the view and then ventured inside for our guided tour.
We had to wait for the previous tour to finish before we could begin ours. Only 40 people can enter the castle at any one time and are always accompanied by a tour guide. We wandered through the narrow corridors and into rooms that now contain artifacts from past eras, then through to the torture chambers which still had an eery feel. We were given insight into the building of the castle. The castle was originally used to keep enemies away and was modified slightly as each generation of Prince-Archbishops began their rule. Walls were built higher, a moat was created and additional towers were built to ensure the safety of all castle patrons.
Music is in the air
Salzburg is famous for being a musical city, and boasts its most famous resident, the classical composer and musician – Mozart! Mozart was born and raised in Salzburg. His homes, where many of his masterpieces were created, are now museums. There are two museums dedicated to Mozart; Mozart’s Birth Place (aka Mozarts Geburtshaus) and Mozart’s Residence (aka Tanzmeisterhaus). We didn’t go into these museums as we had spent quite a lot of time wandering Salzburg, but this is a must for music buffs!
We also visited the final resting place of Mozart’s family at St Sebastian church. The cemetery was quite pretty and was surrounded by flowers and fauna.
Another interesting place that we visited was the Sound of Music museum. Visitors are able to learn more about the making of the movie but also about the real Von Trapp family that the movie was based on.
Before visiting Salzburg, I had become fascinated with the Von Trapp family and wanted to know more about them. Firstly, because I had just found out that a real Von Trapp family existed and also because their story is one of courage, music and adventure. When we first stood outside of the museum, I was excited to see a bus bench; one very similar to the bus bench that Maria Von Trapp would have sat on as she waited for the bus that would take her to the Von Trapp mansion. I managed to take a few happy snaps on the bench, as I imagined how it would have felt like to be Maria! She must have been excited and nervous at the same time!
When we entered the museum, we were amazed to see old family photos of the Von Trapps and details about their family tree. They had been a wealthy family, but during the war, they lost a great deal of their fortune, and formed a singing group to make a living. Then, during the times of Hitler, Gorg Von Trapp refused to fly the Nazi flag on front of their house and also declined a request to sing at Hitler’s birthday party. He knew that their time in Salzburg was limited and organised for his family to escape the only way they knew how – singing on tour in Europe and in the USA. Read the real story about the Von Trapps here.
Maria wrote various memoirs about their lives and many of these are in the Sound of Music museum. I loved looking at newspaper articles and books that Maria had written, but also loved looking at parts of the movie that reflected the lives of the family. We laughed at snapshots of the movie, such as the puppet show that Maria and the children performed. We also enjoyed being able to look and touch the real puppets that were used for the movie. If you’re a lover of the Sound of Music, you’ll love this museum! I spent hours reading, looking and listening!
The gardens are luxurious
The palace can only be viewed by those who attend musical performances and since there were no concerts that day, we decided to enjoy the garden instead. The Palace’s beautifully maintained garden is decorated with fountains and sculptures. If you look carefully at the photos, you’ll see the beautiful Fortress set in the mountain side as if to guard the city.
A visit to Austria is not complete without trying a few snitzels. Now, snitzels are one of my favourite foods in the world. In fact, I enjoy eating snitzel at least once a week! I was not disappointed with the way that Austrians make their snitzel. The snitzels were golden brown, slightly crispy and absolutely heavenly to taste! This was the deal maker for me – this made me love Salzburg even more! I’ll be back one day for sure!
Have you visited Salzburg before? What is your favourite site?