Where: Salzburg city, east Austria
When: 18th century
History: Birthplace of the world’s most famous composer, Mozart
Where It’s At
Although to the far west of Austria from Vienna, Salzburg is probably the most popular day trip from Vienna. Trains from Vienna’s Westbahnhof are frequent and the journey takes around 3 hours. Salzburg is a very picturesque town in the heart of Austria’s Lake District. Although it is only home to 150 000 inhabitants, an incredible 7 million tourists descend upon it each year. And the profits show – Salzburg is very well kept and litter-free with beautifully manicured gardens. The booming tourist industry has capitalised wholeheartedly on the fact that one man was born there in 1756 – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Mozart showed exceptional musical gifts from his infancy in the 1760’s, playing the keyboard before the Austrian Empress at the age of 6, and playing before royalty throughout Europe through his childhood. However, Wolfgang Amadeus, the child genius excelled in greatness in composition, he had written several operas by the age of 17 as well as numerous symphonies, string quartets and works for piano and other instruments. Mozart lived in Salzburg on and off, between numerous failed attempts to launch his career as a composer in Germany, Italy and France. Although he achieved some fame in his short 35 year lifetime, he wittled away his money on an extravagant lifestyle and poor financial management. He died a pauper, buried in an unmarked grave in Vienna.
What’s There to See and Do?
Mozart Memorabilia is to be found everywhere – Mozart chocolates, face flannels, miniature pianos, busts, snowstorms, mugs, plates, golf balls, liquor, perfume… the list is endless, from the tasteful to ultimate kitsch. Salzburg does have some wonderful non-Mozart things to offer.
The Fortress of Hohensalzburg sits atop the rock that towers 300 ft above the town. For over 900 years it has successfully protected Salzburg from attack and housed many Archbishops including Leonhard Von Keutschach whose emblem, a turnip, can be seen 58 times throughout the Fortress. The view from the towers is truly breathtaking. Apart from a bird’s eye view of Salzburg with the Salzach River running through it, you can see as far as the Alps on a clear day. Inside, the highlights include the torture chamber, the Golden Chamber, the bedroom complete with ensuite toilet and, in the Fortress museum, the ‘masks of shame’ that gossiping women were forced to stand and wear in the marketplace.
main image: Image courtesy of Roberto Ferrari, Flickr creative commons