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Published: January 30th 2011
Mia and I are going back to the US for a while soon so we planned one more trip from Munich. We took a train to Salzburg and we were surprised to find one of the most beautiful (and maybe our favorite) towns we’ve seen in Europe. Salzburg is really a year-round “tourist” town, its beauty is evident even in the darkness of winter and tourists around the world seem to know it.
We bought a Bayern ticket, which is an amazing deal. You can take any trains (excluding ICE’s) in Bavaria (Bayern in German) the whole day and it also includes Salzburg for one low price (I think 20 Euro for one person, 29 Euro for 2-5 people). Salzburg is in Austria, but it’s still included in the Bayern ticket, because Salzburg lies only a few kilometers from the German border. It was a 2 hour ride on the RE train and we arrived around 12pm at the Salzburg Hauptbahnhof (central train station).
Salzburg is quite small and very easy to navigate on foot, so we skipped paying for public transport to get to the Altstadt and walked along the river instead. The river splits the Neustadt (new
town) and Altstadt (old town) from East to West. The Altstadt is south of the river and wedged in between a huge hill and the river. We walked from the Hauptbahnhof to the river and walked down closer to the Altstadt. The weather seemed to be pretty amazing. The sun was out and shining and it seemed like the perfect day to travel. But the sun ended up causing some huge lighting issues for pictures throughout the day.
The river was incredibly blue and the snow around it seemed to brighten the vibrant colors even more. The Altstadt was a breath taking sight. The huge fortress is situated on the top of the hill overlooking the entire town and two large domes to the right and left below the fortress really compliment the baroque architecture of the town. Between the domes you can see a few church clock towers rising through the air above the rest of the buildings as well.
The Altstadt is a nice little puzzle of different small alleyways and streets. The first historical site we happened upon was the birth house of Mozart. It blends in with the rest of the houses and apartments
truly amazing ceiling!
nearby except for the big sign on the front of the building declaring that this is indeed his birthplace. We didn’t go inside (7 Euros), but supposedly they have his first violin and some other childhood items he grew up with.
We wandered through the alleyways for a little bit in the general direction of the big dome below the fortress and finally found it after exiting “the Golden Alley”. The dome is part of a very large church right next to Domplatz (Dome Square), which included a strange, giant, golden ball with a little boy standing on top. Outside next to the ball some older men were playing a large version of chess and enjoying the sunny day. We went inside the church and once again were greeted with the beautiful interior of a European cathedral. All the baroque architecture was fascinating to see, and so were the 5 organs housed in the cathedral. Outside was supposed to be a really gorgeous fountain, but during the winter the city puts these ugly glass pyramids over most of the fountains. Making them unrecognizable as fountains. The cathedral does boast two great towers on the opposite side from the dome
that reminded me somewhat of Notre Dame in Paris.
As I said, Salzburg is small and it wouldn’t be hard to walk a circle around the Altstadt in a short time, so we walked west towards the next church and to see if there may be a nice, small restaurant to eat in. The next church was called the Franziskaner Church. It was kind of plain on the outside, but once inside you can see many gilded cathedral marvels and an awesome ceiling. After seeing the church we stopped for lunch in a cool Italian restaurant and I decided that after all this time in Europe, it was finally time to eat try something sweet. Austria is well known for its apple strudel and for my love of the movie “Inglourious Basterds” I got some to try. It was delicious and not too sweet, like I thought it would be.
We found the Church of Saint Peter next, as our last stop before climbing the hill to the fortress. Out of all the churches in Salzburg I think this one was my favorite on the inside. The church is inside the Saint Peter Monastery, which lies right next
on the way to the Altstadt
to a huge cliff. The ceiling of the inside of the church was really what made it my favorite one. I’ll let my pictures describe it, but I thought it was really well done.
Behind the church, still in the monastery, is a small cemetery, with little rows of very ornate headstones and other monuments. After seeing the catacombs in Paris, I was willing to shell out the extra fee to see the catacombs nestled into the cliff next to the monastery. Unfortunately, the money was for nothing, because there wasn’t anything inside the catacombs.
It was finally time to climb up the hill/cliff to the fortress. The fortress sits all the way on top of the hill and is the largest, completely preserved castle in Europe. The way up was pretty icy and made for a good work out trying to keep our balance the whole time. We opted to walk it ourselves rather than take the cable car up; it’s always more fun for me if I work some of the way to see something, rather than being chauffeured around. The whole way up gave a great view of Salzburg and the rest of the Altstadt
with the river. We really enjoyed going up to one of the towers of the fortress too, which had an even better view and we could even see down behind the castle in the direction of the Alps.
By the time we got back down into town it was starting to get dark so we went to see the Mirabell Palace and Gardens before leaving Salzburg. All the plants in the garden were dead so that was pretty gloomy, but there was a nice dual towered church across the street that was good to see too. The palace mostly holds concerts and other presentations now so there wasn’t much to see inside. The Mirabell gardens are also one of the places the Sound of Music was filmed. It's when the children run through the trees with Maria singing Do-Re-Mi. It's obvious that the Sound of Music is a big part of tourism here in Salzburg. You can see it in any souvenir shop you enter with all the film paraphernalia.
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