Salzburg is one of Europe’s most popular cities. Although relatively small, (population around 150,000) it has an abundance of sight-seeing attractions and provides tourists with an inspirational combination of mountain views and historic monuments.
The city of Salzburg is located in the Salzburg region of Austria close to the border with Bavaria, (Germany). Its name means “Salt Castle” referring to the deposits of salt in the area that made the city wealthy as a centre of the medieval salt trade and its beautiful white castle.
Salzburg is an incredibly beautiful city that has many outstanding examples of both Romanesque and Baroque architecture. Everywhere you look you will see reminders that this city was birthplace of Mozart. His memory is preserved and celebrated in several museums and through regular musical events that take place in the city.
The following, top ten Salzburg travel tips are for things to see and do within the city itself. All of them can be easily reached without requiring any transport
1. Above all else, do not miss visiting the Salzburg Castle
Dominating the city, this magnificent, white, fairy-tale, castle is Europe’s best preserved and largest intact medieval fortress. It is the kind of place you want to look at from every possible angle. Walking in the narrow streets of the old town, you turn each corner hoping to be provided with yet another view of the majestic building sitting at the top of the overlooking Monchsberg rock. When you are walking the hills opposite the Monchsberg, you are treated to views of the castle across the valley (see tip 10 below). When you are walking around the Monchsberg itself you constantly look up at the mighty fortress walls, towering above you. From here and from the castle ramparts you are provided with spectacular views over the city and the surrounding countryside below. Inside the castle, the superbly organised tours reveal many fascinating features and historical facts from its origins in 1077 right through to the twentieth century wars.
2. The Salzburg Dom – the city’s cathedral
The cathedral is another great place to soak up the history of Salzburg. It was opened in 1628 on the site of earlier cathedrals, the earliest of which was built in 767.
3. St Peters Abbey
This Benedictine monastery is the oldest active monastery in Austria, dating back to 696 AD. It is located in oldest quarter of Salzburg and will provide many fascinating insights into the history of the city.
4. Getreidegasse – Salzburg’s medieval shopping precinct
Salzburg’s most fashionable shops can be found in Getreidegasse, a beautiful, medieval alley, almost a mile long, running the length of the old town. Even if some of the shops are overpriced, just strolling along the street is an experience not to be missed.
5. Mozartplatz – Mozart Square
This is the heart of the city and is dominated by a statue of the great composer. The statue is considered to bear only a poor resemblance to Mozart and reveals a glaring historical error inasmuch as it portrays him holding a pencil; pencils were not invented until at least twenty years after the time of Mozart’s death in 1791.
6. Mozart Birthplace
The house where Mozart was born in 1756 has been converted into a not-to-be-missed museum.
7. Mozart’s Residence
Not to be confused with the composers’ birthplace, this wonderful museum is to be found in the new town and is the house where the Mozart family lived between 1773 and 1780.
8. Residenzplatz and Residenz
The Residenzplatz is Salzburg’s largest square. It houses the fifty foot high, Residenzplatz Fountain, probably the most beautiful baroque fountain that exists outside of Italy. The Residenz itself was the residence of Salzburg’s Prince-Archbishops and is open all day for yet another not-to-be-missed place to visit.
9. Mirabell Gardens
The Mirabell Gardens is the place where the children in the Sound of Music danced around the statue of Pegasus singing “Do Re Mi”. The gardens belong to the Mirabell Palace that was built by an Archbishop in 1606 as a residence for his mistress and children! Today it is the office of the Mayor of Salzburg but parts of it are open to tourists.
This beautiful hill reaches a height of 2087 feet but there is no need to walk all the way to the top in order to enjoy stunning views of Salzburg in the valley below. The beginning of any walk will take you past the six Stations of the Cross that were built in the early 18th century. The Capuchin monastery which is also on the lower slopes is most definitely worth visiting.