"The city of Salzburg!" Austria Things to Do Tip by CorvetteChic

Austria Things to Do: 467 reviews and 839 photos

Austria's home town of Baroque, and the birthplace of that talented tunesmith Mr Mozart, is picturesquely sheltered by surrounding mountains and straddles the Salzach River near the border with Germany. The Salzburg that everyone knows and loves was largely built by three bishop-princes in the late-16th and early-17th century, which is what gives the city its Italian flavour and its skyline punctuated by countless medieval spires, domes, belfries and turrets. The old town, on the south bank of the river, is a Baroque masterpiece of churches, plazas, courtyards and fountains, oozing so much charm that it's enough to make you forgive young Wolfgang for being so precocious and omniscient. Museums, houses, squares, chocolate bars, liqueurs - you name it and it's got a Mozart tag stuck on it.

The high point of a visit to Salzburg (literally and metaphorically) is a tour of the 11th-century Hohensalzburg Castle, which stands on a rock outcrop about 120m above the city. It's almost a separate village in its own right, with all the usual self-sufficient accoutrements of a tiny settlement like torture chambers, state rooms, a tower and two museums. On the east side of the old town, the stunning Museum of Natural History has the standard flora and fauna displays, good hands-on physics exhibits and some stomach-churning deformed human embryos. To round off the grisly experience, there are tours of the catacombs in the graveyard of the 9th-century St Peter's Abbey.

If you're on a musical pilgrimage, you can visit Mozart's birthplace, his home, the grave of his father and widow, and the house of a person who once knew someone who knew someone whose great-great grandfather once played second bassoon in a Mozart opera.

The Summer International Festival held in Salzburg in July-August naturally gives his tunes a good workout. If you're looking for kitsch, try The Sound of Music tour: ten bucks to the best rendition of Julie Andrews singing 'The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music'. Four km south of Salzburg's old town is the Baroque Hellbrunn Palace, built in the 17th-century by bishop Marcus Sitticus. The grounds contain ingenious trick fountains and water-powered figures thanks to the bishop's strange fascination with soaking unsuspecting visitors. Expect the tour guides to continue the bishop's perverse tradition.

Address: Salzburg

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  • Written Aug 24, 2002
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