As a massive “Sound of music” fan, Salzburg is one of my all time favourite places in Austria.
I remember many rainy Sunday afternoons spent watching Julie Andrews prancing around fountains and climbing hills and wishing I would get the chance to one day visit all of those places. My mum and I would sing along to every song, to the point those quotes filtered through in to everyday life.
Last summer I fulfilled my dream of seeing Salzburg and this year, with the excuse of guiding the Inghams excursion to it, I have had a chance to discover a whole new set of “my favourite things”!
Join me on this virtual tour of some of my favourite places in this beautiful city…
We start just off from Mozart Platz, in a beautiful large Italian Renaissance style square called Residenz platz.
In the early 1600’s Salzburg was ruled by Prince Archbishops, and was one of the richest areas in Europe due to the salt and gold mining in the southern part of the province. At the time, the Prince Archbishop in power was Wolf Dietrich. Having visited Rome where he greatly admired the Italian architecture of breezy “Piazzas” and intricate fountains, Wolf Dietrich proceeded to tear down most of Salzburgs’ old medieval town centre, removing the narrow cobbled streets and overhanging buildings, recreating it in a more modern, Italian style. It’s not a coincidence that Salzburg is known as the “Rome of the North”.
In Residenz platz you can also admire a beautiful fountain, and if like me you are a bit of a “Sound of Music” geek, you will surely remember Julie Andrews frolicking on the edge declaring “I have confidence” before heading off to the Von Trapp villa. (Fun fact: the real Maria Von Trapp appear in a cameo in the film: whilst Julie Andrews is singing, if you look under the archways leading towards the cathedral you will spot a woman dressed in a black traditional dress; that is Maria Von Trapp. It is a “blink and you miss it” moment, so be ready to pause and rewind the movie to spot it!).
Moving away from Residenz platz, past the Cathedral and close to the entrance to Saint Peter’s cemetery you’ll undoubtedly be hit by a delicious waft of freshly baked bread: this is the bakery owned by the monks who daily bake different types of bread and mouth-watering pretzels; the ideal snack whilst you are out and about exploring.
As you weave your way through University platz, take a moment to look at the local market stalls, every day from Monday to Saturday. You can find anything from the Austrian version of fast food (Schnitzel sandwich), to flowers, souvenirs, more types of chocolate than you could ever imagine and loads, loads more.
We continue our journey on the opposite bank of the river Salzach which flows through the heart of the city. Mirabell gardens are renown worldwide for being the set for “Do re mi” in the Sound of music (don’t tell me you’ve never heard of it!), when Maria and the children sing on the steps and around the fountain.
The palace and gardens were originally built by the Archbishop Wolf Dietrich (again!), for his Jewish mistress Salomea. Together they had 16 children, so no wonder they needed the space!
As you head up the steps and out of Mirabell gardens turn around and you will find a breathtaking photo opportunity with the gardens and Salzburg fortress in the background.
If you want to enjoy your packed lunch in the shade and far from the madding crowd, the wooded area behind Mirabell gardens is without doubt the perfect spot. Sit and relax, watch the world go by or simply read a book in the peace and tranquillity.
Head back via the bustling Getreidegasse, Salzburg’s main shopping street and you will notice that all of the shop signs are wrought iron with images on them. This dates back to Medieval times when not everybody could read, so the wrought iron pictures helped them identify what was sold in each shop. And although Christmas is still rather far away, make sure to pop into the year round Christmas and Easter shop to pick up the perfect souvenir!
My last stop is always Cafe’ Tomaselli, just behind Residenz Platz, it is one of Salzburgs’ oldest cafes and Mozart’s favourite place to sip a coffee in the sun. Be sure to try one of the delicious cakes!
But most of all, enjoy Salzburg, and when you leave I can assure you that you too will have a whole new list of favourite things!
Words by Dolores Balotti, Resort Representative in Niederau.