Salzburg – Hohensalzburg Fortress and Mirabell Gardens

Salzburg Austria

Just as the previous morning the day started with a lot of cloud but it was already clearing nicely as we walked down Linzer Gasse stopping only to visit a graveyard to see the tomb of Mozart’s wife, Constantia, and by the time we crossed the river and entered the old town the sun was shining and the temperature was rising nicely.   We planned first to visit the Hohensalzburg fortress so we purchased tickets for the ride to the top on the funicular railway and took the quick journey up to the castle courtyard.

From this elevated position there were some expansive views from the battlements. To the south and west were lush green valleys and high mountains decorated with farmhouses and huts, and to the north and east was the city spread out like a ribbon of pastel colours all along the river valley in both directions.

Inside the fortress there was a room displaying marionettes, and another with a Lowry like display of an attacking army.  There was a museum about the fortress that included a lot of military uniforms and a room with some unpleasant implements of medieval torture including some curious chastity belts whose design characteristics looked as though they would surely be effective in preventing sexual activity but had some inherent features that I suspect made maintaining personal hygiene a bit of a challenge!

Salzburg Cathedral

There we learnt some interesting facts including the story about painting an ox during a siege in 1525 to fool the attackers into believing the castle was well supplied (when of course the opposite was the case) and earning the citizens of Salzburg the nickname of ‘oxen washers’.  Also that the wealth of the city was based on salt mining which gave the city its name and that the fortress was never taken by an attacking army until Napoleon marched in invited in 1801.  Finally we enjoyed a guided tour around the battlements including a climb to the top of the castle where we took one last look around and admired the magnificent views before we left the fortress and retuned to the city on the funicular railway.

Returning to the streets there were lots of shops selling Mozart products and the great man stared out with a bemused stare into the streets from a thousand chocolate box lids.  I would say that Mozart is much more in evidence than the Sound of Music in Salzburg and everywhere there is Mozart memorabilia in the same way that Stratford-upon-Avon exploits its Shakespeare connection.

There was a street market in the university square that wasn’t extensive but had a good range of produce nevertheless. There were free samples and we tried a variety of cheeses and some especially good Hungarian sugar bread. We saw Mozart’s house but didn’t go inside and walked past the famous concert hall where the annual Salzburg music festival is held and then we were back at the river.

 

From the old town there was a pleasant walk along the banks of the Salzach with fast flowing water, shallow and as clear as polished glass towards the Mirabell Palace gardens where we found one of the Sound of Music film locations.  This was the Palace gates and elaborate water fountain where Maria and the children danced, skipped and sang do-re-mi.  The gardens were immaculate, the summer bedding had been recently removed and the edges of the lawns and the flowerbeds were clean and sharp and some of the winter flowering pansies had already been put in place.

Salzburg is famous for its cafés and its cakes and a short distance from the Hotel Mozart was the Café Fingerlos, which came highly recommended in the guidebooks because of its innovation and its reasonable prices. It was late afternoon and the sun was extremely warm now and there was a bright blue sky so we sat at pavement tables on Franz-Josef Strasse and made our selections from an extensive menu and after some moments of indecision, which seemed to irritate the waitress, finally choose our cakes, sat back and waited for them to arrive.  And we were not disappointed because they were delicious and this was a perfect way to end the walking tour of Salzburg.

In the early evening we met again at a hotel bar across the road from the Mozart and had a couple of pre dinner drinks then afterwards walked into town through the shops back to a restaurant called the Goldone Este.   I find that about eight o’clock in the evening is a great time for shopping as most are closed and the others are thinking about it.  Here the shop windows were meticulous and the merchandise was sophisticated and chic.   We especially liked the clothes shops and my favourites were the traditional Austrian outfitters whose entire stock seemed to be made up from leftovers from the Sound of Music film wardrobe.

At the restaurant there was champagne to accompany the meal to celebrate Margaret’s birthday and we sat chatting and drinking until late and probably kept the staff from closing and going home.  I think we had too much wine because on the way back to the hotel we played chicken by running through pavement water fountains.  They were the sort that varied the height of the flow and the object was to wait until the stream had slowed right down and run through it without getting wet before it picked up again.  Brits behaving badly abroad!

Salzburg from the Fortress

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