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Austria - Salzburg


A Karen Brown Recommendation
Salzburg is a medieval town that snuggles in a small pocket of land, traced on one side by the River Salzach and hemmed in on the other by the Mönchberg, a small mountain that rises steeply from the city. Salzburg has a storybook quality with narrow streets, colorful old houses, charming little squares, arcaded courtyards, and enticing shops. Always a special favorite of tourists is the Getreidegasse, a picturesque street lined by buildings that are accented by whimsical wrought-iron signs. Salzburg is so charming you can spend hours just meandering through the maze of streets, which frequently converge like spokes into small squares. It is easy to get lost, but the town is so small that you can quickly find a familiar landmark and be on your way again.When you settle down to sightseeing, you will be pleased to discover that most places of interest are within easy walking distance. Be sure not to miss any of the following: the intriguing fortress, Hohensalzburg, which looms above the city and is reached by funicular from the edge of town; Saint Peter’s Abbey, a Benedictine abbey which (until 1110) was the archbishops’ residence; the 17th-century Salzburg Cathedral, modeled after Saint Peter’s in Rome, which has over four thousand pipes in its organ and three massive bronze doors representing Faith, Love, and Hope; the Glockenspiel whose 36 bells play Mozart tunes at 7 am, 11 am, and 6 pm; the Residenze, an opulent palace, once home to the wealthy prince bishops, whose lavish apartments and art gallery (with a wealth of 16th- to 19th-century paintings) are open to the public; and Mozart’s birthplace, now a museum filled with portraits, musical scores, keyboard instruments, and violins. Just across the river from the heart of Old Salzburg—an easy walk over the pedestrian bridge—are the Mirabell Gardens, which you must not miss. The Schloss Mirabell and the Mirabell Gardens were built in 1606 by Archbishop Wolf Dietrich for his mistress, Salome Alt. As you walk through enchanting terraced lawns you can imagine the Archbishop strolling with his “favorite” while their children romped nearby. Before arriving in Salzburg check with the Austrian National Tourist Office to see what special events are happening during your visit. A popular event in late summer (last week in July through August) is the Salzburg Music Festival, featuring opera, chamber music, concerts, and many world-renowned artists. Should your visit coincide with this event, you will need to plan far in advance—not only for tickets, but also for hotel space. (Note: Unless you are an ardent music lover, avoid Salzburg during the music festival since the city is crowded and hotel prices soar.) One event you must include is the Marionette Opera, with performances taking place from Easter through September in the Marionetten Theater, which is located near the Mirabell Gardens. The marionettes usually perform Mozart operas. The exquisite scenery, splendid marionettes dressed in intricate costumes, and the agility and talent of the skillful fingers manipulating the strings combine to make a magical evening you will long remember. Arrive early so that you can spend time studying the showcases of marionettes from past performances. Their tiny costumes of fine silks, handmade laces, velvets, and feathers are amazing. There are many excellent day trips available from Salzburg. One of the tours takes in the beautiful lakes and towering Dachstein Mountains—this area is called the Salzkammergut. Other tours go to the salt mines—the name of Salzburg evolves from salz (salt) and burg (fortress). The mining of salt was responsible for Salzburg’s wealth and power and the mines can still be visited, making an exciting tour. There are also ice caves near Salzburg—a beautiful outing not only because the caves are fascinating with their fabulous formations of ice, but the scenery is exceptionally lovely too. Another favorite day tour is The Sound of Music, a bus tour that visits the landmarks in and around Salzburg where the movie was filmed. Salzburg has an abundant selection of hotels in all price ranges. Some are in the heart of the city, others in the suburbs within easy driving distance (or in some cases convenient to public transportation). .
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