It is important to mention the city's most prolific composer, the musical pedigree- Wolfgang Mozart who was born and baptized here. Also,the film locations of the movie "The Sound of Music" that so compellingly bring throngs of tourists to this beautiful place.
Salzburg's Old Town is a UNESCO's world heritage site and best preserved city center. It is walkable, easy to navigate, and full of sights to check out.
We arrived here late in the night by train from Innsbruck. Hence, spent the night resting. Next day, early morning descended at the Mirabell Gardens. Not only is it tranquil but it is one of the best free things to do in Salzburg. You can enjoy the rainbow of flourishing blooms and the Mirabell Palace in the background. It was here that Julie Andrews tromped with the Von Trapp kids in the Sound Of Music singing "Do,Re,Mi". You'll recognize the Pegasus fountain,the gates, the Gnome garden along with the hedge tunnel.
Mozart's Geburtshaus is his birthplace across the river. He was born in the third floor of the building.This museum houses much of the stuff from his early life.
From here we headed to the Salzburg Cathedral- Dom zu Salzburg. Built in 774 in Baroque style. It was rebuilt after a fire and then again in 1950 after being damaged in WWII. The three bronze gates represent Faith, Hope and Love. The Cathedral has a beautiful nave and domes.
From here we took a cable car to the Hohensalzburg Castle on top of the hill. You can also walk the strenous 15 minute walk from the center to the top of the hill. It is one of the oldest fort which was built in installments. Inside the castle is a Marionette Museum devoted to the art of marionette theatre of which Salzburg has a rich history and still offers performances. There is also a display of predictably terrifying torture devices as well.
From the Old Town we took Bus 25 to Hellbrunn Palace and Gardens, which is about a 25 minute drive outside of the city.
Well, there are palaces all over Europe that are full of opulent rooms, filled with antique furniture, pictures , royal memorabilia. But the Hellbrunn Palace and Gardens have fun and funky contraptions that bring a smile on your face because they are for entertainment and relaxation. Markus Sittikus, a prince and an archbishop hired Santino Solani, who also built the Salzburg Cathedral to build the Hellbrunn palace. This palace has no bedrooms. What it has are these amazing fun and funky gardens that bring a smile on every visitors face.So the main attraction is not the palace but the gardens where you will find statues, grottos and fountains that operate with hydraulic technology . These moving objects are called -Wasserspiele.
These trick fountains work with a sophisticated system of pumps that automate the fountains.Grottos are a scientific marvel. In them the bird calls are very cleverly engineered by water pipes, turbine like water wheels, bellows driving the wind into the sound of an organ. These machines have been in existence since circa 1830.
Neptune Grotto is a tin face that rolls it's eyes and sticks out it's tongue, all movements driven by water.The mechanical theater is a tower palace that showcases the daily court life,all figures are water driven marionettes. Total of 141 mobile and 52 immobile figures demonstrate various professions and trades of the period.
The picnic table, from where the tour starts is no ordinary table. Imagine you as a royalty in your lovely fancy gown or dress having a picnic with the prince who has hidden controls,and then the fountain erupts right beneath you.Not sure if the prince was being just plain silly or actually settling scores.
It is heartening to see that the palace and the gardens still bring out what the Archbishop intended- screams, squeals and smiles.
A day in Salzburg was well spent with a whole bunch to add to memories. One thing that I learnt from my interactions with the locals was..... never bring up Schwarzenegger:)