Austria

The Sound of Music’s Salzburg

The hills are alive in Salzburg… with The Sound of Music. The American Tony award winning musical and 1965 Academy award winning film are set here and based on a true story. Maria von Kutschera, a candidate at the Benedictine Convent on Nonnberg in Salzburg, becomes governess to Baron Georg von Trapp’s seven children and later becomes his wife. In the early 30’s Maria founded a family choir that did public performances while in Austria. After fleeing the country on Hitler’s annexation of Austria in 1938, they moved to the USA and their performing allowed them to purchase a farm in Stowe, Vermont, in 1941 which ultimately became the Trapp Family Lodge. Today the Trapp Family Lodge is a flourishing hotel.

Visitors from around the world flock here for a piece of The Sound of Music and they are not disappointed. A bit kitschy but you’re here, so why not?

You can see many of the sites from the movie on your own in town…

  • The Benedictine Convent on Nonnberg: where the nuns sing ‘Maria’
  • Mirabell Gardens and Palace: Maria and the children sing ‘Do-Re-Mi’
  • Residenz Square and Fountain: Maria crosses the square in a bus on her way from Nonnberg Convent to the Trapp Villa singing ‘I have confidence in me’
  • Felsenreitschule: where the Trapp Family performed its farewell song and Baron von Trapp sang Edelweiss
  • St. Peter’s Cemetery: the dramatic flight scenes were based on this cemetery

I also recommend a tour with Bob’s Special Tours (€40 per person for the 4 hour tour, its in a small mini-bus holding only 8 people so you aren’t packed on a tour bus). You’ll follow in Maria’s tracks…

  • City highlights are pointed out
  • Leopoldskron Palace: where the family lived in the film and where the children fell in the lake
  • Hellbrunn Palace: famous ‘I am 16 going on 17’ gazebo is here as is the dirt road from ‘I have confidence in me’
  • Salzkammergut/Lake District: picturesque countryside drive full of songs and a stop for local pastries in the village of St. Gilgen
  • Mondsee Church: walk the aisle of Maria’s wedding

Salzburg offers The Sound of Music live in music too. Visit Salzburg’s website for more details. Visit the gallery for more great photos of our Salzburg visit.

So Long…Farewell…Auf Wiedersehen…Good Bye. 🙂

Mozart’s Salzburg

There is no question this is Mozart’s hometown. Everywhere you turn you see him. Salzburg and Vienna are the best places to truly immerse yourself in all things Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Born here in 1756, he spent most of his first 25 years in Salzburg when he wasn’t traveling for performances.

Mozart Must GOs in Salzburg…

  • Mozart’s Gebursthaus (Birthplace): Located on Getreidegasse, Salzburg’s busy main shopping street in the Altstadt (Old Town), this is a shrine to Mozart and the most popular sight in town. Composing most of his early works here (he composed 600 in his short 35 year life), the house is filled with memorabilia and exhibits. The house gives you a great feel of the Mozart family’s life as it is remodeled with period furnishings of the time. You’ll find music scores, most of the portraits painted of Mozart during his lifetime, his first violin, his clavichord (precursor to the piano) on which he played The Magic Flute, family letters and family portraits.
  • Mozart’s Wohnhaus (Residence): Mozart and his family moved into this house, across the Salzach River from his birthplace, when he was 17. This, his second house, is a great museum for more depth into his life and music. The audioguide included with the tour (buy a combo ticket for this and the birthplace) is 90 minutes and worth the time.
  • Mozart Music Live: When in Salzburg you must enjoy live Mozart music. Salzburg has over 2,000 classical performances each year and there are 3 key venues for Mozart. Schlosskonzerte (Concerts at the Mirabell Palace) are probably the best and take place almost nightly. We enjoyed a beautiful 3 piece (violine, violoncello, klavier) concert of Mozart, Beethoven and Dvorák. Concerts at the Fortress with small chamber groups take place in the ‘prince’s chamber’ most nights. Stiftskeller St. Peter serves a candlelit three-course dinner of recipes from the period with Mozart music performed by the Amadeus Consort Ensemble dressed in historic costumes (I peaked in as we had dinner there… not usually my thing but it looked very nice). Also visit Salzburg‘s website for a full list of performances during your visit or stop by the TI office off Mozartplatz once in town (with the town’s Mozart statue erected in 1842) for a schedule and tickets.

See my post on Salzburg for more on the beautiful city. Visit the gallery for more great photos of our Salzburg visit.

Coming tomorrow: The Sound of Music’s Salzburg!

Salzburg, the City of Music

You can hear the music as you walk the cobble stone streets of the baroque Altstadt (Old Town)! Salzburg…the birthplace of composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and setting for the American musical and film The Sound of Music. One of the most preserved city centers north of the Alps and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997, Salzburg first came on the map in AD 700 when Bavaria gave Salzburg to Bishop Rupert to Christianize the area, and it remained independent until Napolean came in 1800.

With a population of only 150,000, it draws eight millions visitors each year. Salzburg means Salt Castle (more on that below) and is nicknamed “Rome of the North” because of its 38 Catholic churches and the Italian ambitions of Salzburg’s Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich (ruled 1587-1612). This lovely town is easy to explore over two to three days. We enjoyed a leisurely three day visit last December after the Christmas rush (they also have a Christkindl-Markt).

Top two Salzburg Must GOs are Mozart’s Salzburg and The Sound of Music’s Salzburg… I’ll cover them in my next two posts. But first, the rest of the best …

Stunning Sites

  • Hohensalzburg Fortress: This fortress, which sits atop a rock and towers 400 feet above town, was never really used as its looming presence kept the city from being attacked for over one thousand years (until World War II but the Altstadt did survived). Hike up or ride the funicular up for a few hour tour and fantastic views of the city.
  • Salzburg Cathedral: One of first baroque buildings north of the Alps, it was finished in 1628 during the Thirty Years War. Mozart was baptized here and later in life was organist for 2 years. The 10am Sunday Mass is known for the beautiful music produced by it’s four organs.
  • St. Peter’s Cemetery: An incredible site full of age old iron crosses (cheaper than stone tombstones), little gardens and elaborate tombs. The Sound of Music cemetery hide out scene was inspired by this cemetery.
  • Salzach River: Salzach means ‘salt’ and named so because its salty and because the salt mines of Hallein are upstream and the river carried boats with salt from here.  A great place to see both sides of the city and enjoy the river is the Makartsteg pedestrian bridge.
  • Mirabell Gardens and Palace: Across the river from the Alstadt is this Schloss (castle) featured in The Sound of Music and a great place for live Mozart music. More on it in the next posts.
  • Getreidegasse: Salzburg’s shopping street was old Salzburg’s busy main drag and famous for its old wrought-iron signs. Check out Schmuck (jewelry) Alley and Christmas in Salzburg & Easter in Salzburg stores for their famous ornaments. And don’t forget your Mozart balls.

Great Eats & Drinks

  • Stiftskeller St. Peter: First documented in the year 803 with a visit by Charlemagne, this is the oldest restaurant in Central Europe. We enjoyed a delicious dinner … pork medallions with tomato thyme gnocchi, glazed Christmas turkey in mulled wine sauce and dessert duet of lebkuchen (gingerbread). We went early to enjoy their Christmas Wonderland and glühwein. A Mozart Dinner is also hosted here … it looked very nice and while I’m not usually one for those things, I’ll definitely try it next time.
  • Goldene Ente Restaurant (in our hotel Altstadthotel Goldene Ente, quaint hotel in the heart of Old Town dating back to the 14th century): Open since 1874, we dined on delicious chestnut soup, turkey schnitzel, austrian wines and THE famous Salzburger Nockerl dessert, yum!
  • Augustiner Bräu: A monk brewery since 1621, this 1,000 seat brewery is not to be missed! Broken into stalls like a giant Munich Oktoberfest, grab a half or liter stein, pay for your beer, rinse it in the very cold water then fill ‘er up! Pair with bretzels, bratwurst and radish chips from the food stalls. A short 15 minute walk outside Altstadt, it opens 3pm daily.
  • Scio’s Specereyen: Quaint bistro serving Austrian cuisine. Its THE place for a Prosecco and Nipples of Venus (specialty white or dark chocolates with a chestnut and nougat filling) enjoyed during Mozart’s time. I also bought a nice bottle of Cuvee Amedes, a Pinot Blanc named after Mozart.

Salzburg is perfect for every season. The famous Salzburg Festspiele, a festival of opera, classical music concerts and theater, takes place every summer. Outside town is also beautiful with its winter sports wonderland, two lakes (Attersee and Mondsee), the famous Hallstadt (picturesque town and home of the salt mines still in operation and open for tours) and Oberndorf (home of St Nikolaus Church’s Memorial Church where in 1818 the first rendition of the famous carol, Silent Night, Holy Night was performed and every December 24 at 5pm a memorial service takes place).

Visit the gallery for more great photos of our Salzburg visit. Coming tomorrow: Mozart’s Salzburg!