Looking up river to the mountains

Salzburg is a small but very attractive city having received its name from the mining of salt in the area which was at its height from 800 – 400BC.

The River Salzsach which runs through Salzburg was the main vein for the transporting of the salt by barge to other towns and countries. Although these barges are no longer active there are still a couple of mines around Salzburg and there is also a salt shop in the town centre with one wall built entirely of salt.

Looking up river to the mountainsLooking up the River Salzsach

The morning after our arrival we were taken on a walking tour of Salzburg by a guide who could not have been more different from the young lady who had guided us around Munich. Our lady guide for this morning was a vibrant, passionate red-head who clearly loved the city and all it had to offer. A phrase which became very well used in the 2 hours was, “If you have time to do only one thing while in Salzburg, it must be ….”! It made us want to spend 2 weeks and not 2 days in Salzburg and it was very difficult to decide on what to do during our free time that afternoon. In the end, Trevor and I took a trip to the top of the mountain in the funicular, a visit to one of the museums and then a quiet cruise down the Salznach in a flat bottomed boat developed especially for this shallow river. It could reach speeds of up to 25 kms per hour and its turning circle was amazingly small. The pilot enjoyed giving a demonstration of this as we spun round and round at the end of tour cruise.

We began our morning tour in what is known as The New Town and finished across the river in The Old Town. There were a few things which I found particularly interesting while we walked around that morning.  The first was as we came around the corner from our hotel into one of the main streets. We were shown fossils of sea creatures on the lower walls of some buildings and on the roadside, indicating that there was a time when this area was under the sea. Amazingly these have been beautifully preserved.

fossilFossil in a wall

Further down the road we saw 3 silver bollards at the end of a section paved for pedestrian traffic only. A minute or two later we saw the bollards slowly disappear into the ground a vehicle turn into the pedestrian area. Seemed quite odd, actually. Our guide then explained to us that after the paving had been completed, vehicles continued to use the street so the bollards were installed. Only emergency and official vehicle drivers have a remote control to lower the bollards. The funny part was that in the first 3 months after having the bollards being fitted, there were more accidents and vehicles damaged than in the past however many years. This was due to non-official drivers following official vehicles and trying to ‘beat the bollards’ but always without success.

Another beautiful haven in the centre of the The New Town are the Mirabellgarten or Mirabell Gardens divided into 2 parts – the Large Garden and the Small Garden. At the end of the Small Garden is the Mirabell Castle which was built in 1606 by Archbishop Wolf Dietrich for his beloved Salome Alt and called it Altenau Castle.  The Archbishop was a Roman Catholic and so should have been celibate but he and Salome produced a number of children! Its name was changed Mirabell Castle, meaning ‘amazing’ or ‘wonderful, in 1612 Although no longer a residence the Marble Hall is often used for weddings today.

Palace with statueMirabell Gardens

Then, there is the home of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart who is probably the most famous resident of Salzburg. There is a town square named after him with a bronze statue of the composer which was unveiled by his 2 sons in 1842. His home is now a museum.

House where Mozart was bornHouse where Mozart was born

Statue of MozartStatue of Mozart in the city square

Salzburg is also the city where that endearing musical The Sound of Music was filmed and in the afternoon, while we went on the funicular etc, a number of the group chose the optional activity to visit the main filming location even though there are a number of places in Salzburg itself where different parts were filmed. In the evening, most of our group went to the Marionette’s Theatre to see an excellent production using marionettes. These shows are very popular and are taken to a number of venues in Europe on an annual basis.

Wall carving of St JohnWall carving of St John on a church building

I could tell you of so many more interesting and beautiful places and buildings which we saw in Salzburg but I do not want to bore you. If you want to see some of these look up Salzburg on the internet. We arrived back at our hotel around midday to find that Jurg had spent the morning cleaning our bus, inside and out. Yes, the coach drivers are responsible for the cleanliness of their vehicles.