I know it has been quite a while since I have posted anything to the good ol’ World Travel blog here…. But I believe it best to just pick up where I had left off! Last I posted, I had just returned from Ireland after a week long conference, a 30 minute detour with some important people, and some lessons I will keep with me in the years to come! But it was not long after my trip that the itch to explore Europe (especially Austria) caught me like a bug! And this time, I wanted to go to Salzburg!!
Most are familiar with Salzburg as the setting of “The Sound of Music”, an American classic that I have never seen (and one that the Austrians insist is not a good depiction of life in Salzburg). And yes, I still have not seen the movie, so what drove me to Salzburg one may ask? A FORTRESS!
Salzburg – nestled within Salzach valley, bisected by the Salzach River, and within county Salzburger Land – dates back to even before 1000bc as an important outpost for collecting andsych as copper, precious metals, and salt (salz auf Deutsch).
Salzburg and Vienna are, in some ways, very different: where Vienna is surrounded my soft rolling hills in the south, and the very beginning of the Alps in the north, Salzburg has amongst the mountains, with neighborhoods and dwellings riddled around and on them; and while Vienna is largely “brand new” with buildings constructed in the 18th and 19th centuries, Salzburg sports a mixture of medieval and enlightened architecture, and by medieval I mean a Fortress! The Festung Hohensalzburg sits atop Festungberg (where “berg” means mountain) and was first erected in 1077 ad!! In 1077 however it was only a small wooden outcropping on the top of the mountain (more like a large hill) while the plateau of the mountain was enclosed by a large wooden fence. The outcropping was occupied by a single Bishop. In the 1400s the Holy Roman Empire began to expand, and their wealth grew with their paranoia, so they began fortifying many of their outposts in Austria and surrounding countries that here on the border, thus from 1077 to the end of the Empire it was continually added upon even by Napoleon and other rulers during the 17th and 18th centuries! I spent a good portion of my day wandering around the castle/fortress as the Fortress has a series of museums inside that depict was life in the Fortress during war time was like! I also was excited to experience nature as I spent another hour or two walking atop Festunberg, within a park.
But I said Salzburg and Vienna are very similar as well: both are immaculately decorated with 18th and 19th century “Roman” revival architecture: large domed and Baroque cathedrals; palaces decorated with pillars, statues, fountains, and gardens galore; and Mozart! Both Salzburg and Vienna claim some important connection to the immortal composer and both have memorialized him in stone with statues as well as well as museums! But only in Salzburg can you visit the BIRTH HOUSE of MOZART. Yes. I stood in a small room, on the third floor of a crowded and warped apartment in which Wolfgang Amadeaus Mozart was brought to the Earth. It is (and was) quite a modest room. Though his father was quite a successful orchestra instructor and violin teacher, he did not make much money and thus he and his wife and daughter (older sister of Mozart) lived in a small cramped apartment in the middle of Salzburg. Walking through the museum, your are led through the life of Mozart from before he was born until long after his death (there is a whole room devoted to modern state production models of his current works). Vienna may have been where Mozart lived happily with the Hapsburgs and died from a misterious sickness, but Salzburg was where his family happily raised him!