Sunday, November 08, 2009

Strolling through Salzburg

It's a warm and lazy Sunday afternoon here in Illinois, so after spending the morning reading Elissa Elliott's Eve: A Novel of the First Woman (for coverage in NoveList; I'll do my writeup tomorrow), I thought I'd get back to posting my travelogue. Here I am, above, sitting in the outdoor café at Fortress Hohensalzburg, overlooking the city of Salzburg with the Tyrolean Alps as a backdrop, on October 22nd. We hadn't made any plans to visit here, but with the help of the local tourist office and a little random luck, we managed to see a number of sites of great visual and historical interest.

For example, after walking a block from our hotel in the old city and passing through the Mozartplatz Square, we came upon the Salzburger Dom, a magnificent cathedral and a masterpiece of Baroque architecture. Interior view at left. There was a sign out front advertising a special event at the Dom that very evening, Licht Nacht (light night), so we took a stroll over after dinner to see what it was all about.

If you've never heard choral music sung in a cathedral as grand as this, it's quite an experience. The interior was lit up with colored lights that changed and faded in and out in accompaniment with the singers and organist. The cathedral pews were filled with a combination of locals and tourists (mostly the former); we had to stand in the back until seats opened up along the side. Mark took a video with his digital camera that came out surprisingly well. (Adobe Flash required to view.)

The gates at the entrance to the Dom provide more information about its history. You may need to enlarge the photo to see them clearly, but atop them are three dates which memorialize the three separate consecrations of the Dom: 774, 1628, and 1959. The original structure, consecrated to St. Virgil and St. Rupert in 774 AD, was destroyed by fire in the 12th century and rebuilt. Another fire ravaged the cathedral at the end of the 16th century, and it was reconstructed during the Thirty Years' War. The most recent consecration took place in 1959, after the cathedral dome was destroyed by Allied bombers during WWII and rebuilt yet again. (Most of the rest of the structure remained intact.)

Earlier that day, we had crossed a bridge over the Salzach River and wandered around more of the city's narrow streets. Lots of shops. Just to the side of St. Sebastian's Church (Sebastianskirche), another Baroque structure, is a cemetery with some very famous residents. It was only by chance that we stopped to walk around there, but I recognized several names right away. A few yards from the entrance, you'll find the plot for Leopold Mozart, the composer's father, as well as that for Constanze (Constantia), widow of Mozart, who settled in Salzburg with her second husband, Georg Nissen. Historical fiction readers may recognize her as a lead character from both Stephanie Cowell's Marrying Mozart and Juliet Waldron's Mozart's Wife. (I had to get historical novels in here somewhere!)

This last photo is the sight we saw while walking back toward the city center from the other side of the Salzach: the Dom towers behind the buildings at right, while the 11th-century fortress, at the very top, overlooks everything.

Note: there's something wrong with this post in IE; the date stamp and comment link are missing in the main blog view. I have no idea why. If it doesn't appear, you should be able to get there through this page instead.


  1. The big question is did you sing songs from The Sound of Music whilst you wandered around??

  2. I tried not to think about the movie, as those songs tend to get stuck in my head! A local tour company was offering a special Sound of Music tour geared towards English-speaking visitors. I thought that was amusing (though I bet they make a lot of money at it).

  3. Thank you so much for posting these travel posts. I really enjoy reading them. The clip from the cathedral was wonderful, I can only imagine how it must have been to hear it live.

  4. Interesting post - thanks for the opportunity to look at something of Austria. Beside the culture, did you buy Mozartkugeln (I think that's the name). They're foil-wrapped chocolate balls and if you drop them on the floor they bounce. My Dad used to always bring back a box from business trips to Salzburg, a city he loved, but that was some 40 years ago.

  5. Yes, we brought back a few packages of Mozartkugeln, seeing they were a local specialty. Then the following weekend I saw them in an international food market just north of here in Champaign (figures!). I didn't realize they bounced and may need to test that out myself.

    Glad you enjoyed the post, Danja!