Salzburg is a rich mixture of architecture: Italian Renaissance and Baroque with a bit of Medieval remaining. It is a unique balance of scenic Alpine landscape and exceptional art and architectural treasures. The 1965 classic film, The Sound of Music, was filmed in and around the city, which figures prominently in the story. Plus classical music has been significant here since the time of Mozart.
The city staddles the swiftly moving Salzach River and is framed above by a clifftop fortress and the northern foothills of the alps. The old town or “Alstadt” looks much like it did during Mozart’s time, 250 years ago. The sites in Alstadt are spectacular with the elegant domes and pinnacles of steeples pressed against the splendor of the mountains beyond. It has been called the “German Rome,” and was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1996.
The historic district contains some of the city’s most popular attractions- Mozart’s Geburtshaus (birthplace) and the Salzburg Museum. The Jewish District is an atmospheric walk. Alter Markt, with the beautiful St. Florian Fountain, is a marketplace that began in the 13th century. Fine restaurants and interesting shops line the square. We thoroughly enjoyed the Wirtshaus Elefant restaurant located in Hotel Elefant in old town. It was cozy and romantic and had great service and food. There are plenty of other unique cafe choices all around. Getreidegrasse Street is a must with their artful advertising signs in cast iron. One of the of the more interesting ones is for McDonalds! Great shopping and restaurants thrive on this street. Kapitelplaz square has some unique art. The oversized sphere is an art piece added in 2007 entitled “Sphaera” by German artist Stefan Balkenhol.
The Salzburg Cathedral, with its marble façade crowned with turquoise domes, is a spectacular 17th century early Baroque ecclesiastical structure. A church was founded on the site in the 8th century, and built, burned and rebuilt, reaching its present form in 1628.
Two key sights in Salzburg are Mozart’s home—Number 9 Getreidegasse—which has been preserved as a museum and the Mirabell Palace and Gardens built in 1606. The annual Salzburg Festival includes performances of opera, plays and concerts runs for five to six weeks each summer
The Fortress Hohen Salzburg palace looms stoically above town. From the low-lying old town, it can be reached by an uphill climb by foot 10 to 15 minutes (pleasant, but it can be a calf crunching walk for those not used to steep climbing) or the Fortress Funicular train (which was not often running when we visited in November). The fortress enjoys spectacular panoramic views and unique museums.
A trip through the countryside to Hallstatt is recommended. The drive there is full of beautiful, unexpected landscapes of mountains, lakes and castles. Hallstatt is full of 16th century Alpine architecture with the dramatic Eastern Alps as a backdrop. The Alpine village is full of cozy cafes and distinctive local shopping.
Other scenic day trips nearby are St. Bartholomew’s Church (Kirche St. Bartholomä) on Königssee Lake in Bavaria, Germany, close to the Austrian border. There is a scenic boat ride which takes you to this magical spot through crystal clear waters. The short cruise had a musician on board who played a trumpet out the door of the boat, the sounds reverberated against the mountains. The echoing sound was extraordinary!
Austria is full of scenic villages and dazzling architecture and is an adventurous road trip you will not soon forget!