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.

2013-05-21 03.23.452013-05-21 02.53.56

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.

2013-05-21 03.48.22

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.

2013-05-21 07.23.292013-05-21 07.22.45

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.

2013-05-21 08.04.20

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

Travel: Guten Tag Salzburg

Leaving South Germany, I returned to Austria and the city of Salzburg, home to the classical composer Wolfgang Mozart, but made infamous by the movie Sound of Music. It took me a little longer than usual to get my bearings after checking in; I was also generally indecisive about my wardrobe options given the contrasting weather report and what I was witnessing outside. Eventually, feeling optimistic, I opted for a sundress and light cardigan (as you will see in my pictures); this proved to be an unfortunate choice, we will get to that reason later.

2013-05-20 06.03.23


Nonetheless, I enjoyed a leisurely stroll through the beautiful city, capturing a multitude of scenic views on my way, while simultaneously absorbing some sunshine. At the base of the mountain, I had the option to be lazy and take the funicular up, or hike 20 mins to the castle. Seeing how I am asian and enjoy conserving money that is better spent on quality food, not to mention the warm weather, I opted to complete the climb.

2013-05-20 06.03.44

At the top of the hill lies the Hohensalzburg Castle, more commonly called the Salzburg Fortress. Construction began in 1077 under Archbishop Gebhard von Helfenstein. During this period, the Archbishops of Salzburg were powerful political figures, which necessitated expansion of the castle in order to protect their interest. Most notably, Gebhard’s conflict with Emperor Henry IV during the Investiture Controversy.

2013-05-20 06.08.15

The fortress only came under siege once during the German Peasants’ War in 1525. A group of miners  farmers, and townspeople attempted and failed to oust Prince-Archbishop Matthaus Lang.


Notable Historical events further include:

  • Death of the deposed Archbishop Wolf Dietrick von Raitenau while imprisoned here.
  • Surrender to French troops during the Napoleonic War of the Second Coalition in 1800.

It was then used as a barracks, storage depot, and dungeon before being abandoned as a military outpost in 1861.

2013-05-20 08.03.13

As I this hill also contained the Nonnberg Abbey, I opted to head in this direction as I left the castle. Unfortunately, dark and ominous clouds encroached on the sky. Believing it would rain as the weather forecast predicted, I was prepared with an umbrella. Therefore I continued to amble along the cobblestone road.

2013-05-20 08.30.58

Turns out, that it did not rain as anticipated; Rather, it started to hail. First, the torrents came down as small pebbles, however they immediately progressed to index-nail sized rocks. It was at this point that I used my better judgement to wait out the hail-storm under a bridge. The wind also picked up, and my think cardigan and skirt did not quite provide the necessary insulation. Hail finally gave way to rain, and rather than continue to be miserable and cornered, I completed the rest of the walk to the Abbey.

2013-05-20 09.13.04

Alas! I was unaware that we were only able to visit the church. Nonnberg Abbey is known to be the abbey at which Maria August Kutschera was a postulant after World War I. It is her life that was the basis for ‘The Sound of Music’ film.

In the short time it took me to meander a circuit around the pews. The sun re-emerged scattering light and warmth across the garden. What strange and unpredictable weather!