Happy 2018! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season with loved ones. I spent New Years Eve in Vienna, Austria with my husband, my cousin, and his wife. Although this post won’t cover Vienna, it is staying in Austria. In today’s 6 Hours In… series, I’m taking you to the baroque town of Salzburg.
Salzburg is located in Austria, near the German border, just a couple hours outside of Munich. It lies in the Alps and is split by the Salzach River, which runs through the city. The old city, or altstadt, is full of baroque architecture and medieval elements. While Salzburg is a popular tourist destination due to its convenient location from both Munich and Vienna, it’s famous for being both the birthplace of Mozart and the backdrop for the movie The Sound of Music.
DISTANCE FROM MUNICH
- 1 hour and 30 minute drive
- 1 hour and 45 minute train
Everything in the old city is close together, making it easy to see a lot in a short amount of time. For these “mini-guides”, I recommend having six hours to see everything listed. Of course, it’s up to you how long you spend at each spot. While most of these spots can be seen rather quickly, I recommend planning at least 1 hour and 30 minutes for the first spot on this list, the Hohensalzburg Fortress. I’ve also listed the sites in the order in which I recommend you visit them, based on the city layout.
Atop a hill, overlooking the altstadt, is the Hohensalzburg Fortress. Built in the 11th century, Hohensalzurg is one of the only fortresses to never be conquered. During both World War 1 and World War 2 it was used as a prison. The fortress is accessible by a funicular railway. From the top, there are sweeping views of Salzburg and the Alps. A small restaurant at the top provides a great spot to enjoy a beer and the snow-covered mountains.
STIFTKIRCHE SANKT PETER SALZBURG
Better known as St. Peter’s Abbey, this cathedral is a Benedictine monastery, and is one of the oldest, dating to 696. The Abbey Church was built in the 12th century, but didn’t receive its famous onion dome until the 18th century. On the grounds of the Abbey is a beautiful cemetery. There are tombs in the arcades under the hill and the catacombs carved out of the rocks look over the cemetery. It’s a peaceful spot to walk through when returning from Hohensalzburg Fortress.
The Salzburg Cathedral might just be my favorite spot in the city. This Baroque stunner, originally founded in 774, was destroyed by a fire in 1181, then rebuilt in the 17th century. Mozart himself was baptized here and the original baptismal font is still in the Cathedral. During World War 2 the church was hit by a single bomb and restorations weren’t completed until 1959. The cathedral is truly stunning both inside and out.
Sigmund-Haddner-Gasse is a popular street in the altstadt. The pastel colored buildings line the street and offer beautiful views of the town hall. It’s a great spot for wandering the shops, grabbing a bite to eat, and enjoying the classic architecture of Salzburg.
One of Austria’s most beloved composers was born in Salzburg. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in January of 1756 to Leopold Mozart, a composer in the Salzburg Royal Chamber. Today, Mozarts birthplace is a museum. The tour guides you through his home on the third floor and includes letters, strands of the famous composer’s hair, and some of Mozart’s first instruments.
MIRABELLE PALACE AND GARDENS
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Mirabelle Palace and Gardens are a lovely spot for a stroll. Built in the 17th century, the palace was originally the home of Prince Archbishop Wolf Dietrich Raitenau. And if this palace looks familiar, it’s because it was one of the filming spots for the movie, The Sound of Music; the scene of the catchy song Do-Re-Mi was shot at the horse fountain. Today, the Marble Hall is a popular spot for weddings… although, the sister of Eva Braun (Hitler’s wife), married a Nazi SS Officer in this very spot. The gardens at the back of the palace offer views clear back over the Salzburg Cathedral and the Hohensalzburg Fortress. I imagine it’s even more beautiful during the summer months.
Salzburg is a great day-trip destination. It’s proximity between Munich and Vienna make it easily accessible. While one could easily spend a few days in this Austrian gem, it’s perfect for a short getaway.
What’s your favorite Austrian city?