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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Three Rainy Days in Salzburg with Mozart, The Sound of Music, Trick Fountains, etc.

N.B. We were in Salzburg for 3 nights and this one post encompasses our visit of this famous city. In hindsight, I sure should have separated it into at least a couple of posts for my sanity and because I fear it may be way too long for you all. If so, my apologies. Annie

Left the peace and quiet of Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic, by a shuttle for the 2 plus hour drive to Salzburg, getting there by noon. Since we were the only passengers, the driver kindly dropped us off at the front door of ur hotel. Sounded like it'd be a nice step up from the hostels we'd been staying in but JUFA Salzburg isn't a place we'd recommend. After waiting for 90 minutes to check in and drop our things in our room, we began exploring the city in the rain. 

No more appropriate spot  to start a walk in Vienna than Mozartplatz above and below; the square was named to honor Salzburg's native genius.

Neue Residenz: Home to Salzburg’s great prince-archbishops and Mozart’s patrons and the center of Baroque Salzburg. I had never heard the term prince-archbishop before OR don’t recall learning it in school decades ago. I now learned that it meant he was the man in charge of all things secular and religious in the city.

Dom (Salzburg Cathedral) and adjacent Domplatz (Square): In the center of the beautiful plaza or square rises the Virgin’s Column and at one side the Dom, the 1st early Italian Baroque building north of the Alps. Its fa├žade is of marble, the towers reach 250 ft into the air and it holds 10,000 people! I’ve heard of the ‘mega’ churches in the southern US but hadn’t realized some churches in Europe were so massive too. There’s been a cathedral on the spot since the 8th C. but the present one dates from ‘only’ the 17th C! Mozart Trivia: His parents were married in the Dom in 1747; he was christened from the 14th C. font the day after he was born; he later served as the cathedral’s organist and some of his compositions, such as the Composition Mass, were written for the cathedral .For 10 days at the end of every August since 1920, Domplatz has hosted the production of Jederman or Everyman. Due to the rain this summer however, only 5 of the 20 concerts were able to be held outside this year!

Inlaid on the floor just before the altar.

While Steven rested in one of the pews, I descended into the depths of the cathedral to the crypt where the archbishops from 1600 are buried. To say the cathedral and crypt is breathtaking doesn’t do it justice but I have no other words.

St. Peter’s Church: Called the most sumptuous church in Salzburg, it’s where Mozart’s famed Great Mass in C Minor premiered in 1783 with his wife, Constanze, singing the lead soprano role. Mozart directed the orchestra and choir and also played the organ.

Nonnberg Convent: Founded right 1700 by St. Rupert and his niece, the 1st abess; we saw a late Gothic statue of her in the archway. After climbing many steps, we explored the church just a few minutes from our hotel. The convent is more famous as ‘Maria’s convent’ - both the one in The Sound of Music and the real Maria where she almost found her calling and later returned to marry her Captain von Trapp.

St. Peter’s Cemetery: One of the most historic and beautiful places in Salzburg, the cemetery is located under the cliffs, its wrought-iron grills and Baroque vaults shelter the final resting place of much of Old Salzburg. We found it a place of great beauty and serenity.

Pferdeschwemme: A horse trough decorated with splendid Baroque-era paintings. Salzburgers sure must have loved their horses to have built this.

Tiny St. Blasius Church: Built in 1350, it stands at the beginning of Old Town’s major shopping street, Getreidgasse

Nothing wrong with my camera; the church was indeed bathed in blue lights.  Won't likely forget this church!

photos below:
Most of the street's stores had signs depicting little wrought-iron cobblers and bakers, etc as few people could read centuries ago. Look at McDonald’s own elegant sign with bronze lettering; like the others on the street, it had to conform with Salzburg’s strict Old City conservation laws. The street was packed even in miserable weather.

Toured Mozart's Geburtshaus: located at #9, it was the birthplace of Mozart. Couldn't take photos inside unfortunately so these are all I have.

Monchsberg Elevator: Been in existence since 1890, it transports roughly half a million travelers up through solid rock to the Museum of Modern Art and a viewing terrace for stunning panoramic views of Salzburg; I’m sure it would be that much prettier if it were sunny!  Took us up the hill to Salzburg’s most famous outlook.

We had bought a 24 hour Salzburg card so got an early start on 9/1 since we only had 3 and a half hours left on it. We got the first ride of the day on the Festungsbahn Funicular. It's Austria’s oldest operating funicular and with about 1.7 million passengers every year and one of Austria’s most impostant trains. It climbs and descends at a 60% average gradient, covering a height difference of 102 m; nowadays it only needs 54 seconds to float up to Salzburg’s city landmark of Fortress Hohensalzburg: the 11th castle high above Salzburg dominates the city. According to a famous saying in Salzburg, 'If you can see the fortress, it’s just about to rain; if you can’t see it, it’s already raining.'  We found that very apt!

Instruments of torture above and below!

Couldn't wait getting back in the rain again from the cocoon of the funicular!

Our next pit stop was the Panorama Museum to see one of the few remaining 360 degree paintings in the world; it shows the city of Salzburg in the early 19th C. by Michael Sattler. 

Had never heard the term 'cosmorama' before; have you?

After seeing the panorama we then scooted to catch the #25 bus out to Hellbrunn Castle and Trick Fountains. We didn’t realize that we’d need to go on a reserved tour of the fountains and the next one up was at 11:25 so we had a bit of time to scurry through the palace. Archbishop Markus Sittkus (1612-1619) had the summer palace, with all its trick fountains, built not as a residence but purely for his own amusement. 

My King Steven!
I've always loved Chinese designs and these were stunning.

I've seen SO MANY pictures of sunflowers this trip and hardly any on previous trips that I recall.

Neill: thought of you and your love of fishing here.

Next up was the tour of the Trick Fountains: Had read about these on Trip Advisor and the majority of posters loved them and others not so much as you never knew when the guide would turn on the fountains coming out of all sorts of unexpected areas. We'd been wet for so long that we didn't mind getting ever wetter!

There were about 8 figures that went around at a fast clip and made it so hard to take photos; I must have about 20 I need to delete because they're so blurry!
Set below ground, everything in these tiny sets moved to music and all were powered by water; very cool to watch!

This massive set where everything and every figure moved to music; so much to look at.

The guide kept raising and lowering this disk at various speeds over the fountain. That's Steven in the background.

The guide made sure everyone had to go through the Arch; at his discretion, he alternated the height and direction of the jets. Steven decided to wait the guide out, refusing to go under the Arch even though I had my camera poised and ready to take his picture for a good long time. Then, once we were all 'safe' on this side of the Arch, there were tiny fountains set in the concrete that no one had seen and were activated by the guide! You sure needed to have a sense of humor taking this tour and your camera protected at all times from errant fountains.

The Pavilion was a lot smaller than I remember its being in the movie. I'd love to see it again having seen so many of its venues in Salzburg.
From Hellbrunn we took the #25 bus back to the city and over the river to the New Town area of Vienna and ascended a stone staircase to the top of Kapuzinerberg Hill for some great vistas of the city. At the top of the 1st flight of steps was a tiny chapel, St. Johann am Imberg, built in 1681. 
We both felt like we were climbing the Great Wall again! More and more steps to Hettwer Bastion, part of the old city walls, for some more spectacular views.

At the summit was the Kapuziner Kloster (Capuchin Monastery), originally a fortification to guard the bridge across the river. It’s still an active monastery so we could only visit the church. When you walk up a hill, guess that means we can then walk down, right. Fun strolling down the very steep, windy path past the Stations of the Cross; we just had to make sure no cars were beetling down the hill at the same time because there wouldn't be much room to jump out of the way.
I wondered if they have to 'mow' the top of the sign after getting so much rain!

Then walked on to St. Sebastian’s Cemetery, memorably recreated for the escape scene in The Sound of Music, and the final resting place for many members of the Mozart family and one of the most peaceful spots for the living in Salzburg.

Mirabell Gardens: Reputed to have one of the best views of Salzburg as it 'shows how harmoniously Baroque architects laid out the city.'  That may well be the case but we wanted to see the fountains where Julie Andrews and her 7 charges showed off their singing ability in The Sound of Music!

The Pegasus Fountain (remember "Do-Re-Mi"?).
The Gardens' Rosebush Hill was supposed to be really great but it was small and not so great, we thought. All the roses were this vibrant orange red color.

The most famous part of Mirabell Gardens is the Zwerglgarten or Dwarfs' Garden where there are 12 statues of dwarfs sculpted in marble.

Mirabell Palace: Called the 'Tah Mahal' of Salzburg', it was built in 1606 by an immensely wealthy and powerful man for his mistress and their 15 children! Mozart and his sister gave concerts in the Marble Hall which is now used for civil wedding ceremonies and is regarded as the most beautiful registry office in the world.
The humongous Angel Staircase that ascended for 2 full floors with landings in between.

Looking down from the top; I detest heights but wanted to get a sense of the magnitude of the staircase.
Perhaps it was due in part to the rain and gloomy weather but neither of us were particularly as charmed by Salzburg as we thought we would be. The locals we came into contact with were not very friendly or welcoming. The architecture in the city did not resonate with us as it had certainly in Prague; I found it in large part, a cold city and I’m not referring to its weather. Seeing so many beggars lying prostrate on the streets did not make us enamored either. I loved spending the time seeing what we did but have no desire to return another time and discover more of the city and its environs. Perhaps if you’re a Mozart afficianado, you’d be swept away by all things Mozart in the city but neither of us is.