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TOURING SALZBURG, HELLBRUNN, SALZKAMMERGUT AND HALLSTATT

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Hohensalzburg overlooks Mirabell Gardens
Hohensalzburg overlooks Mirabell Gardens
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Salzburg is a treat for the senses. Located between two mountains, and bisected by the Salzach River, the city has a spectacular setting. Views from the Hohensalzburg fortress, which looms over the city from Mönchsberg, are especially memorable.

In The Sound of Music, Maria von Trapp and her children sang a verse of Do-Re-Mi overlooking this panorama from the Mönchsberg observation terrace. They sang another verse in Mirabell Palace and Gardens.

Laid out in the early 18th century, they offer a magnificent view of Hohensalzburg towering above the fountains, flowers and benches in the park. Sound of Music tours are very popular with visitors.

Old Town Salzburg
Old Town Salzburg
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

UNESCO site

We loved walking along the wooded pathways on Mönchsberg, beside the Salzach River and below the arched gateways, steeples and clock towers in the Old Town. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997, Old Town Salzburg is filled with baroque buildings, some of them adorned with painted façades.

The aroma of roasting chestnuts, the clopping of horse hooves, the clanging of church bells and the chatter of café patrons permeated the squares and streets.

Store signs

The buildings here are tall, because there was not enough space for them to expand between the Salzach River and Mönchsberg.

Getreidegasse is the main shopping street. Its name means "trot of the horses" street. (It was wide enough to accommodate horse-drawn carriages.)

Mozart's birthplace
Mozart's birthplace
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

But it wasn't the stores that captivated us. It was the flowers cascading from window boxes overhead and the wrought iron and gilded signs depicting the occupations of the buildings' tenants—bakers, boot-makers and dancers. (Okay, we admit we entered a candy shop to buy Salzburg's famous Mozartkugeln—decadent balls of pistachio marzipan covered with nougat and dark chocolate.)

Where was Mozart born?

The most popular attraction on Getreidegasse is the house where Mozart was born on January 27, 1756. Inside the yellow building where he lived until 1773, we viewed his childhood violin, sheets of music, family portraits and furniture.

Water squirts from benches by marble table in Hellbrunn Palace gardens
Water squirts from benches by marble table in Hellbrunn Palace gardens
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Operas by Mozart, especially The Magic Flute, as well as operas by other composers and The Sound of Music are all part of the Salzburg Marionette Theater's repertoire. During a performance, the puppeteers who manipulated the beautifully costumed and carved marionettes brought smiles to our faces.

Trick fountains

Laughter also echoed throughout Hellbrunn Palace's gardens, just as it did after Archbishop Markus Sitticus completed them in 1617 for his early baroque summer residence. Inside one grotto, a face wagged its tongue and squirted water from its eyes.

Streams of water sprayed from a brass deer head's mouth and antlers as unsuspecting visitors walked by. Be careful if you sit on one of the benches beside the marble table with the wine-cooling trough. Water spurts sporadically from the seats.

When the Archbishop's guests became tipsy from too much wine, he'd turn on the fountains. It was impolite to get up before he did. (His seat had no hidden jets.)

Lake district

The breathtaking peaks and lakes of the Salzkammergut are located east of Salzburg. The region has lush green meadows, grazing cattle and pretty Alpine villages with blossom-bedecked chalets.

Mountains surround lakeside village of Hallstatt
Mountains surround lakeside village of Hallstatt
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Hallstatt was our favourite. Surrounded by mountains, its picturesque houses, churches and cobblestone streets nestled around a placid lake.

The UNESCO World Heritage site (with Dachstein and Salzkammergut) was a picturesque and relaxing place to stay for a couple days before we continued our drive to Graz.


TRAVEL INFORMATION

Tourism Salzburg

Austrian National Tourist Office

More things to see & do in Austria:

Vienna's Hofburg, Schonbrunn, Belvedere Palace and Grinzing Tour

Melk Abbey Driving Trip From Vienna

Vienna Choir Boys MuTh Concerts

Durnstein and Weissenkirchen in Austria's Wachau Wine Region

Innsbruck, Heiligenblut and Wattens Crystal World Tour