I am currently on Spring break, so I thought this was a great opportunity for me to do some writing for the blog. One change that you might notice with this post, is that I have tried to include more photos. I thought that might make it a little more exciting! Without further ado, Salzburg, Austria!
After a quick breakfast, everyone boarded the bus for the three-hour drive from Vienna, Austria, to Salzburg, Austria. Along the way, the bus stopped at a rest station in Mondsee, Austria for everyone to stretch their legs and have lunch. From the rest station, weary travelers could look out into the breathtaking Austrian countryside. I maintain that this little rest stop offered one of the best views across the entire trip. There was something rejuvenating about the refreshing air and the warm sunshine on you. It was gorgeous!
We were given just over an hour at the rest stop, and so we scrambled to get some pictures of Lake Mondsee and the alps behind it. Then, we walked to the restaurant. We grabbed a quick bite, had dessert, and then got on the bus again to finish our drive to Salzburg. From the rest station in Mondsee, it would take us just over a half hour to make the drive to our drop-off point at Salzburg. Salzburg, unlike Vienna, Budapest, and Munich, is very pure in history because it hasn’t become a big city. What I mean by this is that, while cities like Vienna, Budapest, and Munich all are rich in history, they feel like big cities. On the other hand, Salzburg is very much a small city which still gives out a charming small town vibe. Because of this, we did most of our travel within Salzburg on foot rather than by bus, because the bus would probably not be able to go anywhere past the ring road.
Our bus finally pulled into the drop-off location and we filed out and met with our guide. After a few moments to regroup, we started walking towards the center of the city. As we walked, our guide explained how Salzburg was a great city for education because Salzburg University was located in the city. She went on to explain how the university campuses were spread across the city so students can experience all parts of the city while making their way to and from classes.
As we walked, we could see a white structure that seemed to loom over the entire city. Our guide explained that the fortress had been built by a previous archbishop in order to protect the city from attacks.
Salzburg has always been, for the longest time, ruled by archbishops of the church rather than kings and princes. It’s just another quirk of the small city that makes it that much more interesting. The Hohensalzburg Fortress can be seen from almost every part of the city and has today, been converted to a museum. It is a beautiful sight to see.
We kept walking until we finally reached the city center. It was a large, open square with several modern art sculptures which felt a little out of place, especially with all of the historical buildings around it. On one side of the square, I could see the funicular trains transporting tourists to the top of the incline to visit the fortress. Kids were playing in the square, and pleasant violin music could be heard. We moved toward the back right corner of the plaza, and as we turned the corner, the source of the music became evident. A small group of street performers put on a small concert, alternating between American pop songs on string instruments, and classical songs composed by Mozart.
After listening for a few moments, we moved past the concert and entered a large cathedral. There was nothing particularly special about this cathedral, at first at least. There were the typical stained glass windows, the high, vaulted ceilings, the several rows of pews, candles burning all around, and steps leading down to the catacombs below the church. Wait, WHAT!?! Yes, you hear me correctly, there were steps to the side, which could be used to access the catacombs beneath the church. I walked down the steps a little timidly, not knowing what to expect. I was surprised to find a well-lit cave. We didn’t go any further into the catacombs, but apparently, the archbishops that once ruled Salzburg are buried in the catacombs. We retraced our footsteps and joined back up with the group.
As we left the cathedral, we saw risers being put up. We asked a local what was happening, and he told us that the risers were for the music festival that would be starting in Salzburg in just a few days. Sounded like fun, but we would be missing it, unfortunately.
From the cathedral, we followed the guide through some alleyways until we reached another large plaza, although this one was smaller than the one before it.
There were small coffee shops and cafes around the square. There were also horses and carriages waiting to take tourists around the city if they wanted to. But, the main attraction in the square was the Mozart Statue that stood at last 20 feet tall in the center of the square. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in 1756 in Salzburg, and quickly became a local celebrity for his musical talent. Before long, he would travel great distances to perform. His home, however, would always be Salzburg. It is because of him that Salzburg is so influenced by music. In fact, some even call it the classical music capital of the world.
Another few turns through some more busy side streets and we found ourselves in front of a yellow building that could not have been taller than four or five stories. It was abutted on both sides by other unassuming buildings. It didn’t seem like much, but there was a crowd gathered around it, and everyone was taking pictures of it. We assumed people were taking pictures of the building because it was a vibrant yellow in the midst of browns, beiges, and whites.
Upon closer inspection, however, we found a small plaque near the entry door that the yellow building had once been the home of none other than the Mozart family. It has now been converted into a museum that displays artifacts from Mozart’s life. It was very cool to see the home of a local icon.
At this point, the guide told us that the rest of our time in Salzburg was ours and that she was done with her part of the tour. Keith, our tour director, gave us a time and place to meet the rest of the group. With that, we were on our own. We had done some research about the city beforehand, so we knew just what to do with our free time. After asking our local guide, and a few other residents for directions, we ended up in an isolated courtyard. It was peaceful and shaded. The buildings around us were all old, but we were here to see one building in particular. We walked to one of the sides of the courtyard and found what we were looking for. It was an archway made of black steel rods, and past it was a tunnel of sorts, leading to the back where we could make out what looked like a restaurant.
If you guessed that we had come to a restaurant, you would be correct. But this wasn’t just any restaurant. This restaurant had special historical significance. What do Roman Emperor Charlemagne and Mozart have in common? Well, the truth is, not much, aside from the fact that they both ate at the St. Peter Stiftskulinarium. We weren’t allowed to enter the restaurant because they were closed in preparation for the lunch service, but, we had seen what we had come to see. From the restaurant, it was just a short walk to our second stop.
We pulled open the gate and entered a very quiet, peaceful area. Ahead of us, a church house rose up. Paths led to it from all directions with perfectly manicured lawns and pretty flowers extending on either side of the paths. Gravestones gave the entire courtyard a somber feeling and the high catacomb wall shaded most of the courtyard. We were here to visit the tomb of Anna Maria Mozart in the famous Saint Peter’s Churchyard Cemetry. Several notable people are buried here in addition to the aforementioned Anna Maria
Mozart. Painters set up their easels along the path and were painting the beautiful flowers, the church, and the verdant lawn. It was very quiet and very calm.
We found Anna Maria Mozart’s tomb and observed it quietly. There were others there who were painting it. There was a winding path that led upwards and we followed it. Soon, we found ourselves in a cavern that kept getting steeper as it went upwards. Windows along the path allowed for natural light to stream in.
At the top, we found a dark room with memorials. We also had an excellent view of the churchyard below. It was, again, very quiet and very peaceful.
We came back down using the same path and left the churchyard. We checked the time and concluded that we had long enough to do a little bit of gift shopping before we had to meet the others at the rendezvous point. We settled with a fridge magnet, and some exclusive Salzburg chocolates (which were DELICIOUS!!). After our little shopping spree, we met back up with the others.
It was late afternoon now, and everyone was hungry, but we still had a few things to see in the city. Keith led us away from the city center, and across a bridge that had been filled covered in combination locks similar to the one in Paris that goes over the Seine River. This, however, was the Makartsteg Bridge that goes over the Salzach River. Funny enough, we were told that while love may last, the locks that signify that love may not because the city cleans the locks out
every so often. The locks add a lot of weight to the bridge and so they aren’t allowed to stay forever. Yikes! The river with the alps in the background was just stunning. Salzburg is such a picturesque location.
Anyhow, we crossed the bridge, and we made our way to the last stop of the evening. The Mirabell Gardens. The gardens are an extension to the Mirabell Palace which is a UNESCO world heritage site. We, however, did not visit the palace, only the gardens.
The gardens featured flowers in a spectrum of colors, showing a vibrant display contrasting with the green of the curated lawn. The flowers made shapes and were planted into patterns. It really was a garden for royalty. We spent some time just wandering the garden. It was pretty but very crowded so I wouldn’t say it was peaceful. At the center of the garden was a fountain with a pegasus in it. It made for some great pictures and added to the beauty of the garden. It was really lovely.
We took some more pictures at the garden (including the selfie on the right) and then made our way to the restaurant for dinner. After a day filled with walking, it felt so nice to just sit and rest my legs. The food tasted amazing especially because I was so tired. That night, I slept well for sure!
I was a little melancholic at this point of the trip because there would be only one full day of touring left! But I won’t ruin what happened next on my European adventure!
And that’s a wrap on Salzburg!
As always, stay tuned for more content! Until next time!