Travel: Mozart’s Town and the Sound of Music

My primary motivation for visiting Salzburg was to walk in the steps of Mozart. It was only after arriving that I realized that the city had also gained fame as the home of Maria Von Trapp and the location for the movie ‘The Sound of Music.’ As such, my day was filled with musical melodies and dancing magic.

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First stop was at the Mirabell Palace. Although I couldn’t go in, I enjoyed walking amongst its meticulously landscaped garden, and dancing around the Horse Fountain (Do-Re-Mi Scene). The building was constructed in 1606 at the behest of Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich Raitenau according to Italian and French models for his mistress. He was deposed in 1612, and during this era, the palace received its current italian name, bella meaning ‘Amazing’ or ‘Wonderful’. Subject to much remodeling through the years, its current  neoclassical appearance dates from about 1818.

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Next, I visited the birthplace of the only Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. If you don’t recognize the name, then I am no longer your friend. 😛 He is recognized as one of the most prolific and influential composer’s of the Classical Era. As a child, Mozart showed prodigious ability; He was competent on Keyboard and Violin, and regularly composing pieces and performing for European Royalty from the age of five. Eventually, he grew restless, and was dismissed from his Salzburg position while visiting Vienna in 1781. It is in Vienna where he spent his final years composing some of his best-known symphonies, concertos, and operas.

Last on the list for my meandering day was a stroll through the Hellbrunn Palace. The Schloss is best known for its jeux d’eau, the magical fountain filled with unexpected water delights. The water-park was conceived by Markus Sittikus von Hohenems, an individual with a keen sense of humour who employed practical jokes, which were performed on guests. I personally was incapable of avoiding these deviously hidden mechanisms that would sprout water up through seats and overhead when least expected. Water-pressure also allowed for ingeniously designed mobile figurines, best illustrated in a musical-playing theatre that was built-in 1750. There was always one location where the Archbishop would stand or sit, that was protected from water.

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So, I know the pictures here look the same. but if you look closely between the two, you will notice an extension and retraction of the face’s tongue. This is achieved by a small pail mechanism, that when filled, lowers the jaw, automatically extending the tongue. Once emptied, it retracts, and the process repeats.

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I stopped by the Glass Gazebo on my way out to relive the ‘Sixteen going on Seventeen’ moment from the movie.

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Travel: Munich (Part II)

I apologize. At this point in my travels, the wanderlust has worn off and a sense of ennui has caught up with me. Hence, today was a lazy, hazy day. I had little motivation to cram as many events into my day as possible, therefore I slept in late, and meandered through town at a leisurely pace.

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First stop entailed a short visit to the Cuvilliés Theatre, which lies within the aforementioned Residenz Complex. It was ordered by Maximillian III Joseph outside the palace after a fire destored the previous St. George’s Hall. Construction spanned from 1751 to 1753 according to the design of François de Cuvilliés in rococo style.

If you look closely at the pictures from the Residenz Interior, you will see several rooms also exhibiting the Rococo Style. It is in this theater that Mozart’s Idomeneo premiered in 1781 and Carl Maria von Weber’s Abu Hassan in 1811. The theatre was intelligently meant to be multifunctional, and this was achieved via a floor that could be lowered or raised for ballroom festivities.

Lacking in energy, despite accomplishing little, I gave myself a reprieve by immersing myself in some casual reading and a glass of hot Chai (My favorite milky tea). Finally, summoning the impetus to move, I ventured to visit, now don’t be surprise, another palace.

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The Nymphenburg Palace was the main summer residence of the rulers of Bavaria designed in the Baroque style. The visionary was the italian architect Agostino Barelli, who was comissioned by the couple Ferdinand Maria and Henriette Adelaide of Savoy in 1664. It is within these walls that King Ludwig II was born in 1845, as the great-grandon of King Max I Joseph.

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While open to the public, the building continues to be home and chancery for the current Franz, Duke of Bavaria, who is head of the house of Wittelsbach. Jacobite, who trace the line of the British Monarchy through legal heirs of James II of England, he is the legitimate heir of the Stuart claims to the throne of Great Britain.

It is interesting to note however, that despite merely having a dukedom, this claim has not been actively pursued. I can’t say that I would have done the same in his place, albeit that as a ‘commoner’ I grew up with Disney Movies and imagined a happily ever after as a princess with a prince on a white horse to rescue her.

The Coach Museum:

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The Porcelain Museum:

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What are your thoughts on Monarchy? Democracy? I’m torn. While the medieival, monarchical period of history seems romantic, I also know that the power resulted in sever abuse and neglect of the general population. This doesn’t mean, however, that certain monarchs wielded economic and political decisions for the benefit of his people, in contrast to selfish gain by exploiting his subjects.

Travel: Palaces of Vienna

Finally summoning the willpower to leave Prague, I found myself in the capital of Austria. As home to Sigmund Freud, and a history of providing philanthropic support to inspiring composers, Vienna is indeed the ‘City of Dreams and Music.’ It is hard to miss the beauty of its streets, as merely a stroll down any avenue will greet you with gorgeous architecture, baroque décor, and green landscapes.

I never considered myself ‘Palaced-out’ until I visited Vienna. The city has enough imperial palaces to satisfy the requirements of a minor ‘Disneyland’. As such, I averaged a royal residence a day, and each had its own unique quirks. Though I will admit, my enthusiasm has begun to wane in regards to both palaces and churches.

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My first visit commenced at the Schönbrunn Palace, as it was within easy walking distance of my hostel. It consists of 1,441 rooms designed in the  Rococo Style.  Once again, as in the case of Versailles, it originated as the court’s recreational hunting ground on an estate that was purchased the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II in 1569.

A mansion named Katterburg was subsequently erected, and then an Orangery added on by Eleonora Gonzaga, wife of  Ferdinand II in 1643.

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The next palace was the Belvedere Palace complex. Prince Eugene of Savoy purchased a sizable plot of land in 1697, and chose Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt as the chief architect. His vision was to construct a landscaped garden and a summer residence. He had to wrest the upper portion of land from imperial Grand Marshall Count Heinrich Franz Mansfeld, Prince of Fondi, by taking out a large loan secured against Stadtpalais. Thus, Lower Belvedere and Upper Belvedere became a united estate.

2013-05-14 10.35.45Vienna’s last, but most renowned palace is the Hofburg Palace, the primary residence of Emperor Franz Joseph I and Empress Elisabeth. It was a rare love match for the royal couple, despite ‘Sisi’ neglecting her duties as Empress, and spending much of her time traveling abroad. The complex itself is stunning, and incorporates many buildings, which have since been converted to accommodate museums, libraries, and theatres. This area has been the document seat of government since 1279, and the residential portion is now termed the ‘Sisi Apartments.’ Although not well respected in life, due to her indifference to participate in royal court, ‘Sisi’ was remembered fondly in her death after she was assassinated by the radical Italian anarchist Luigi Lucheni in Geneva.

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Overally each palace was unique and rested on absolutely gorgeous grounds! The architectural landscape is so elegantly crafted and detailed, that despite the centuries past, you can almost feel the royal presence strolling through the gardens.