The birthplace of Mozart and the Von Trapp family, this Alpine wonderland sings with classical beauty and natural scenery.
If you’ve seen the beloved movie The Sound of Music, you’ll undoubtedly recall a young Julie Andrews twirling in the lush Alpine countryside, singing “The hills are alive with the sound of music.”
That scene and that song are the perfect embodiment of Salzburg, Austria, and the gorgeous landscape surrounding this historic city. But more than just the hills are alive here. Every facet of the city is rich in history, and music fills every public space — from baroque city squares to elaborate gardens as well as humble pubs and restaurants.
Musically, Salzburg is best known as the birthplace of Mozart. His music has provided the soundtrack of the city ever since 1762, when — as a six-year-old — he first performed for the royal court. The yellow townhouse he grew up in remains a fixture in the historic city center, and statues of him dot the entire region.
As beautiful as the city is to the ears, it is equally inspiring to the eyes. The city center with its holy cathedral, royal residence, and winding cobblestone streets is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Italian architects of the 17th century shaped the Baroque style of the entire city, and their influence guided designs beyond the city walls, in Mirabell Palace, whose lavish gardens formed the backdrop for “Do-Re-Mi” in The Sound of Music.
The medieval Hohensalzburg Castle, originally home to the Prince-Archbishops who ruled from the 13th Century through the 19th, lords over the city’s Italian style. Hohensalzburg and the endless collection of other castles in Gothic and Romanesque styles around the area add an extra layer of history and highlight the unique role of Salzburg as a melting pot of European cultures.
The Salzburg Festival, which runs from July through August every year, brings all the history, art, music, and architecture together for the epitome of European experiences. Book early if you plan to attend. Every hotel in the city fills up and tickets for the main events sell out. If you can’t make it for the festival, don’t worry, there are classical concerts 365 days a year at many venues. Sit on a downtown patio anytime of year, and the sounds of Mozart, Maria Von Trapp, and everything in between will waft at you through the old town, mixing with the smell of fresh-baked pastries to create a sensuous experience.
The treasure trove of buildings and artwork in the city may not be Salzburg’s greatest assets. The mountains that rise in every direction offer rewarding views to visitors, and the salt contained within them is what gave the city its wealth (and its name) centuries ago. Take a gondola up one of the peaks for breathtaking hikes or bike rides in the summer as well as skiing in the winter.
© Tourismus Salzburg GmbH