Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sound of Salzburg

You cannot visit Austria without visiting the home of Frauline Maria and the Von Trapp family- Salzburg. I've wanted to visit Salzburg ever since I saw the movie Sound of Music. Part of the attraction was the nearby scenery of the hills and Alps. And of course the story. But Salzburg is more than just the setting for Sound of Music.

Salzburg is also the home of Motzart. Motzart was born in Salzburg in 1756 and here is where he composed most of his early works. Later in life, Motzart would return to Salzburg and occupy another building as a home.

The architecture around the Old Residence and Domplatz was beautiful. We passed the Cathedral and watched as a crew took down the Chriskindal market stalls and tree.

This particular area was pretty cool. Definitely helped to understand why we were so cold- 98% humidity and 0 degrees Celsius.

Our first stop was to visit St. Peter's Church. It was their cemetery where the von Trapp family hid while escaping the Nazi's. It was absolutely nothing like the movie and I'm not exactly sure where they hid as there was no room behind those huge tombstone.

Regarding the cemetery, Motzart's sister was buried here. As was Hayden's brother. They both rest in the chapel built into the side of the cliff. And if you fail to pay your rent on the tombstone each decade, it is removed and another deceased tenant is able to take your place. Interesting huh? And if you look up on the side of the cliff you can see where monks lived- doors and windows chiseled into the side of the cliff. You could get a better view from the funicular.

I was hoping that the inside of the church would be more like the movie version and unfortunately I was disappointed. It did not look anything like the movie. It was still pretty, but very quiet and darkly lit. The atmosphere inside the church was very peaceful and reflective, but not as extravagant as the church seen in the movie.

Beside St. Peters and the Kapitelplatz was an old fashioned waterwheel. While it is just a waterwheel it actually tells an interesting story. Beneath Salzburg is a series of water canals, which spread throughout the city. It was designed to provide water throughout the city so that way in case of a fire, there was a reliable source of water nearby to fight the fire. Because of the hygiene of clear clean water flowing throughout the city of Salzburg the Bubonic Plague never entered the city. No one died from the Bubonic plague here- not something many European cities can boast.

As I previously said, Salzburg was named after the nearby salt mines. The Salzach River which separates the city was the main transportation system that carried the salt from the mountains and into the surrounding area.

The main attraction for us was the Hohensalzburg Fortress. This fortress was built on top of a 400 foot rock that was built to defend the city in case it was ever attacked. The fortress was never taken by a military, however, they did willingly surrender the city of Salzburg to Napoleon's army. After Napoleon was removed from the area, Salzburg became part of the Austrian-Hungary Empire... remember the Habsburg family in Vienna?

The view from on top was amazing. Very very cold during the winter, but still amazing. Some of my best pictures came from the view on top the Fortress.

Inside the fortress you could see the how different church officials built the fortress over time. It was mostly occupied by church cardinals for a very long period of time. The cardinals quarters were pretty opulent for a person who took a vow of poverty. He even made himself a throne room. And the big ceramic thing is an old fashioned heater.

They also had an exhibit showing off some of the equipment and uniforms of World War 1 soldiers.

And they also had some medieval torture devices. Apparently as punishment, prisoners were occasionally placed into these metal masks and walked through the streets, where the crowds would degrade and humiliate them.

And of course there is always a chastity belt. Sophie commented that she thought it was pretty because it had a heart on it.

There was also the stocks, where prisoners would sit with their hands and legs bound inside the heavy wood structure. This one seats 3.

There was also the chair of torture. I liked the one I saw in Prague better, but then again, if I had to sit in one of those chairs, this one would be a bit more comfortable- if you can call sitting on a chair full of metal spikes comfortable.

They also had this cool display of medieval armory. These knights were posed as if they were in the heat of battle. With spears hanging in the air waiting to land into some enemy. It reminded me of the movie Bedknobs and Broomsticks, when the soldiers became alive to fight the Nazis.

The fortress had many unique surprises in the architecture. It truly was worth all the money for the visit.

The area surrounding Salzburg was absolutely gorgeous. Being the winter season we past many people in ski gear. Although the city itself didn't have any snow on the ground, as we were leaving it did start to snow lightly. The Alps were impressive and gorgeous. I think sometimes places are less beautiful during the winter, but I have a feeling that Salzburg is beautiful all year around.

Chauffeur’s Corner (Brian)
So we arrived in Salzburg around 4 or 5pm, to drizzle. We thought about going to the downtown area, which has very strict limitations on vehicles, but decided to again go cheap (relatively) and easy with McD’s for supper. Queue the ordering from electronic board fiasco and language barrier – ok it wasn’t a huge deal as the machine said “waffle fries” but they really meant “curly fries”. We at least got something to eat before we got some much needed sleep, especially me (kids in the background on Skype – “where is daddy?”).

We awoke to a chilly morning and set off by car to the parking garage nearest the town limits. We walked around and actually walked past St. Peter’s Church initially without realizing it. We walked downtown through their Christmas market setup, found some pastries for breakfast, found Mozart’s birthplace (right before the mass of people started to assemble – hey it’s just the wood and plaster that kept him warm from those chilly Salzburg nights) and then back through the square to St. Peter’s Church. It was rather quaint and pretty. Fortunately I didn’t have any preconceived ideas like Stacey based on “Sound of Music” (personal note – that was the first movie we watched together and for some reason Stacey fell asleep).

The riverfront was very scenic and unfortunately it was so chilly that it wasn’t enjoyable. We were in the first group to go to the Fortress (the website had said it was closed, so we had been worried that we wouldn’t get to see it – fortunately the website was wrong). During the tour you get to walk aimlessly around the grounds, but then one part includes a remote activated sound guide. It was a rather short tour, but helped show the stages of the fortress and the BEST part was getting to stand on the very top of the fortress. You could see for miles in all directions. Even my hands were fairly numb after enjoying the view for a few minutes.

I would go back to Salzburg, but it would definitely be for a laid-back trip as the only thing we missed seeing was the Red Bull flight museum – which is free and looked amazing, but alas was closed.