Salzburg is my favorite place in Central Europe. (Sorry Prague!) Situated on the edge of the Alps, the Salzburg is the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the home of Red Bull and where the iconic Sound of Music was filmed. A shining example of Baroque architecture, Old Town Salzburg (Altstadt) is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Salzburg is a city filled with architecture and music. You could easily spend a week exploring the city and the surrounding countryside. Here’s FunFriendsFoodTravel.com’s quick take on Old Town Salzburg!
Those of you who have studied German know that Salzburg means “Salt Castle” It’s not surprising since the city was a critical source of salt in the region. Before the advent of refrigeration, salt was an essential food preservative. Salt was Salzburg’s primary source of wealth and growth.
Not surprisingly an imposing fortress is situated above the city. You can see the Hohensalzburg Fortress on the horizon nearly anywhere in the City. When you stand on the ramparts, there is no part of the city you cannot see. First built in 1077 by Archbishop Gebhard, Hohensalzburg went through centuries of upgrades by the Prince Bishops that ruled the area. The cannons of the Fortress point directly at the river. Barges carrying salt along the Salzach were subject to a tax. (It gives a new meaning to “death and taxes,” doesn’t it?)
You can walk up to the castle entrance or take a quick ride up funicular (entrance located on the southwest side of Kapitelplaz). If you ride the funicular, you can save a few bucks by buying the tickets online or getting the Salzburg Card.
Earlier this year, I hiked up to the castle entrance via Mönchsberg during the early morning. It is a panoramic view of the castle and the city. If you don’t want to hoof it, you can take the funicular. Just be ready to take photos before the cable car begins moving. It is a fast ride to the top.
Walk the Fortress proper, you will realize why it has never been taken. The Fortress was built to survive a siege. Despite being high above the city, it has own water supply. The ramparts bristle with cannons. Even if you could get to the foot of the fortress, the steep cliffs make it impossible to climb. On the off-chance you breach the gates, what waits inside is a kill zone. Will it survive the zombie apocalypse? Without question! Now that we’ve established that it is the perfect place to shoot the next Walking Dead series let’s talk about the view.
The view from the Fortress is incredible. I visited the Fortress during low season so, there are plenty of places to take photos from the ramparts. If you go during the summer high season, expect a bit of a wait to get your shot.
In addition to regular open-air concerts within the Fortress walls, you can enjoy a dramatic sunset there at the restaurants and cafes there. Is there a price premium? A little. So all the more reason to grab a pint of Steigel beer (amazing beer) or enjoy a meal and watch the sunset over the Alps.
Adjoining Residenzplatz, Old Town Salzburg’s historic center, is Salzburg Cathedral. Like the Fortress, Salzburg Cathedral dominates the skyline. When the bells toll, you feel it. Mozart and Mohr, the man who wrote the words for “Silent Night,” were both christened there. You can’t miss the baptismal because it is bigger than my bathtub at home! The organ is amazing. I was there for All Saints day, and you could feel the power of the organ.
By the way, this year is the 200 anniversary of Silent Night, you will want to stop by the Salzburg Museum to see their special exhibition.
St. Peter’s Abby
Fans of Sound of Music will immediately recognize the Cemetery and Catacombs is where the Von Trapps hid from the Nazi’s before their escape from Salzburg. Classical music enthusiasts will know that the Rupert Mass by Haydn and the Dominicus Mass by Mozart were written for the abbey.
Getreidegasse(Grain Lane) is essentially main street Old Town Salzburg. This is where doctors, brewers and wealthy merchants lived. Today, you can buy groceries, clothing and grab a bite to eat. The nice thing about Gereidegasse it may be high street Salzburg but the alleys that branch off to either side have plenty to offer for a wide range of budgets. You can’t miss the road because there are wrought iron guild signs (required by law) above the street to identify each shop. Above the shops are townhomes, one of which is Mozart’s birthplace at Number 9 Getreidegasse, which is now a museum.
Grünmarkt at Universityplatz
Filled with fresh fruit, vegetables, bread, and hot food, the morning market on Universityplatz is every traveler’s best friend. The market has been there since 1857. You can easily find reasonably priced food in the morning before you begin your adventures through the city.
Museum der Moderne Salzburg
The modern museum is located on Mönchsberg the ridge high above the city. If you are a photographer, you will want to spend time examining their extensive collection. The views of the town are also excellent. Even if it is raining, the Salzburg is a dramatic day or night.
The walk along Mönchsberg is a favorite of mine, you can take a leisurely stroll through the forest all the way from the Modern Museum back to the Fortress. In the mornings, you will local residents jogging or walking their dogs. One early morning, this affable dog joined me for a walk.
So that is our quick overview of Old Town Salzburg. Our next post will cover the rest of Salzburg and our favorite place to visit: Schloss Leopoldskrone.
Kent is a management consultant who has spent years traveling for work. His refuge is looking for the perfect meal so that he can reproduce it at home with his wife and friends.