A Day with Mozart in Salzburg – Music & Culture

Influential composer of the classical era, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in the city of Salzburg. The city is located in central Austria, close to the German border and, as you might expect it, comes with a lot of things for you to discover, especially in terms of music and culture.

A statue of young Mozart in Mozartplatz, Salzburg, Austria

A statue of young Mozart in Mozartplatz, Salzburg, Austria

That’s why, today, we decided to take Mozart with us and spend a day in Salzburg together. We’ll be at the end of your road, waiting for your transportation from Salzburg airport to get you in the heart of the city.

Fresh in the Morning

Since we are spending the day with Mozart, it’s only natural that we have our breakfast at Café Tomaselli, found on Alter Markt 9. It is believed that Mozart himself spent his mornings in this café and that his favorite drink was almond milk – that sounds like a very healthy choice of beverage for breakfast, right?

After we’re done with our breakfast, we can have a walk in the Old Town of Salzburg, which has seen little changes from the time Mozart used to walk around it. After enough walking, we’ll reach Mozart Square where we can see his statue.

To end our morning, we can go visit the Salzburg Cathedral – it is one of the most significant Baroque building in Salzburg and it is also the place where the baptism of Mozart took place.

Afternoon

If we are in Salzburg, we might as well try some chocolate, right?

You can satisfy your taste buds with a box of Mozartkugeln, literally translated to Mozart Chocolates, which can be found at Konditorei Furst, on the Brodgasse 13 Street.

Of course, you can find this type of chocolate in many other places, but this very place we have mentioned a bit earlier is the one in which the patissier Paul Furst came up with the idea and created this chocolate. The Mozartkugeln is basically made out of a pistachio marzipan center that’s been hand-dipped into dark chocolate nougat.

After eating the finger-licking good chocolate, we can head to Bibliotheca Mozartiana, on the Schwartzstrasse 26 Street, library that contains around 35,000 titles. It is also the most extensive Mozart library in the entire world.

Evening

Since we’re walking with Mozart, it’s only natural that we end our day with a concert or an opera performance.

If you prefer a concert, then head over to the Mozarteum, but if you prefer an opera performance, you can go to the Salzburg Marionette Theater for a piece of a Mozart opera.

After such delight, you can safely go and enjoy your dinner or visit one of the local taverns. Fideler Affe is the place you want to see if you want to taste some beer and enjoy the place’s coziness, while Hotel Sacher can provide you with the dinner that will get you ready for sleep.

So, now you know what you should be doing in Salzburg after your airport transfers company in Salzburg of your choice drops you off to your accommodation – that is if you want to spend your day with Mozart.

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Bach’s Birthplace – Leipzig, Germany

LEIPZIG, GERMANY: Leipzig is one of the largest cities of Saxony in Germany. Honestly, I wasn’t that excited about coming here, especially after visiting cities like Salzburg and Prague in this trip. Yes, of course, the city is ultra-modern and its city center is an energetic and vibrant place to hang out. But when my husband told me that Leipzig is the city where classical music composer Bach was born, my enthusiasm came back right away. We saw Beethoven’s birthplace in Bonn, Germany few months ago and Mozart’s birthplace few years ago (also again in this trip in Salzburg, Austria). Visiting Bach’s birthplace was almost like an obligation to me.

Walking around the city center of Leipzig in Germany
Walking around the city center of Leipzig in Germany
                 

So, yes, Leipzig is the city of famous composer Johann Sebastian Bach. He was born here and spent 27 years of his life writing many of his most well-known music in this city. Bach’s main places of activity, St. Thomas Church and St. Nicholas Church are still standing in the main city center. Bach Museum holds Bach Festival each year in Leipzig, may be a good time for the Bach fans to visit this city.

Other than that Leipzig has Germany’s 2nd oldest university, The University of Leipzig, which was founded in 1409. The city also boasts for being the home of St. Nicholas Church (see below) which was the starting point of peaceful demonstrations against the communist regime which led to German Reunification.

TIME of TRAVEL: After visiting Fussen (Germany), Innsbruck, Salzburg (Austria), Prague (Czech Republic), Dresden (Germany) during our Christmas road trip in 2013 we arrived in Leipzig, Germany. Weather was fantastic, not freezing cold which I was scared about traveling to Germany in December.

OUR HOTEL: Our hotel in Leipzig was Novotel. It’s a well reputed hotel in Europe. We stayed in Novotel at different times in different cities. It was a fantastic location right across the main train station of Leipzig (Hauptabahnof) and only 5 minutes of walk from the city center. Hotel didn’t have free breakfast but had complementary Wi-Fi in the room. Bottom line is the location was good, especially with the kids. We could just walk across the street to the train station for many option of meal and breakfast.

EATING and SHOPPING: We did couple of our meals in Leipzig train station or Hauptabahnof. Station had some good pastries shops, fast foods, Pizza Hut, local chains, and other good places to eat. On New Year’s day we had dinner in old town in an Indian restaurant called India Gate. Leipzig old town/city center has at least five Indian restaurants here and there…we had to try at least one from there. India Gate was very nice place and the food was good too.

In old town, Grimmaische Strasse is a pedestrian street where tons and tons of stores are located. You can find brand name, local shops, boutique stores, and etc. on this street. Even if you don’t do any shopping it’s nice to just walk around and look thru to do some window-shopping. Another place of shopping would be the main train station, Hauptabahnof. It is a station alright, but looked more like a gorgeous shopping mall to me. Something special to buy from Leipzig is Bach’s CDs and other souvenirs related to him. I bought a Bach CD from Bach Museum.

PLACES WE’VE VISITED: We spent about a day and half in Leipzig. We could have done it in a day but Bach Museum was closed on the New Year’s Eve, so we had to wait ‘til the next day to visit it, after all it would be a crime to leave Leipzig without visiting his museum.

The city center or old town of Leipzig has a modern look with some old buildings standing shoulder to shoulder with many new architectures. These historical buildings were mostly constructed by the merchants in the old days. Old town is not that big and we covered it on foot.

1)  ST. NICHOLAS CHURCH or NIKOLAIKIRCHE: As I mentioned above, St. Nicholas Church was the starting point of a peaceful demonstrations against the communist regime which led to German Reunification in 1989. It is that historic church also where Johann Sebastian Bach performed regularly during his lifetime. Nikolaikirche is the largest church in Leipzig with the biggest organ in whole of Saxony. But other than all these historical stats, this is an elegant looking church. From outside, you may not think so, but inside is sophisticatedly decorated and looks more contemporary than other German churches…a must-see place in Leipzig.

St. Nicholas Church in Leipzig, Germany
St. Nicholas Church in Leipzig, Germany
         

The church is located on the pedestrian zone of old town on Nikolaistrasse.

2) BATTLE of the NATIONS MONUMENT or VOLKERSCHLACHTDENKMAL: Built in 1813, this is the biggest monument in Europe. It commemorates the great Battle of Leipzig of the Napoleonic Wars where Napoleon was defeated at the cost of 100,000 lives. You can’t leave Leipzig without visiting this.

Battle of the Nations Monument in Leipzig, Germany - the biggest monument in Europe
Battle of the Nations Monument in Leipzig, Germany – the biggest monument in Europe
                 

Since we went there on the January 1st, everything was closed. We only walked around the monument and went up the stairs just to look around from outside. When open, tourists can visit its upper observation platform, the dome, different galleries, hall of fame, and crypt. There are many steps to climb but if you can go all the way to top a fantastic view awaits as a reward.

We took tram #15 from Hauptabahnof (Leipzig’s main train station) to go there. After 8/9 stations, we got off at Meusdorf. There is a ticket to enter the museum and go inside the monument.

3) AUGUSTUSPLATZ: This is more like a modern shopping district in city center. You can see a nice blend of old and new buildings here. We came here both during day and at night and it’s a lively square to hang out anytime of the day.

4) MARKT: This is a big square on Grimmaische Strasse where old town hall still stands. The old town hall houses some shops now. Christmas lightings looked fantastic at night.

Leipzig's old Town Hall in Markt
Leipzig’s old Town Hall in Markt
            

5) BACH MUSEUM: Few steps further from Markt is Bach Museum. The building of Bach Museum once used to be the residence of Bose family in St. Thomas Square. They were affluent merchants of Leipzig back then and very close friends of the Bachs. Bach family lived in St. Thomas School which stood right across from the museum until it was demolished in 1902. Bach was from a renowned music family and for 27 years this square was Bach’s immediate environment. This is where he composed many of his most significant works. The museum gives a detailed account of the life, childhood, career as a musician, stories, and works of Johann Sebastian Bach. The permanent exhibition conveys a vivid impression of his music and displays original Bach manuscripts.

Bach's statue inside Bach's Museum in Leipzig, Germany
Bach’s statue inside Bach’s Museum in Leipzig, Germany
              

Bach appreciated no other musical instrument as he did the organ; he was an organ expert. Among the most interesting exhibits is the organ console from the St. John’s Church is the last relic of a Bach organ in Leipzig. Bach himself played it in the year 1743. Visit a double bass that was part of his orchestra and an iron chest – the only surviving piece of furniture from Bach’s household. A special highlight of the museum is the treasure chamber in which original Bach manuscripts are on display.

There are few listening booths in the museum to immerse yourself in Bach’s music. Every single one of his compositions can be called up from the media stations. Get acquainted with Baroque musical instruments and their specific timbres in his museum.

The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10am – 6pm. Ticket is 8 euros per adult, children under 16 are free. It includes audio guide. It’s not permissible to take any photos inside.

6) ST. THOMAS CHURCH or THOMASKIRCHE: Opposite of Bach Museum is St. Thomas Church in St. Thomas Square. From 1723 until his death in 1750, Johann Sebastian Bach was the highest ranking musician in Leipzig as Director and cantor at St. Thomas. As part of his official duties, Bach was responsible for the musical education of the boys at St. Thomas School and for the music in services at the two main churches – St. Thomas and St. Nicholas – as well as the New Church (later called St. Matthew) and St. Peter’s Church. He used to perform here every other Sunday with his choir and orchestra. With his second wife, Bach lived in the old St. Thomas School on the churchyard and went to this church for confession and to receive Holy Communion. A life-size statue of Bach in front of the church stands to commemorate his time in this church.

Statue of Johann Sebastian Bach in front of St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, Germany
Statue of Johann Sebastian Bach in front of St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, Germany
              

St. Thomas is a simple church but highlight of it is that it houses the tomb of Bach. His remains are buried under a bronze epitaph near the altar. On 28th July 1750, Bach dies in Leipzig. He was originally buried in the hospital cemetery of St. John’s Church. In 1949 the mortal remains of Johann Sebastian Bach were transferred to this church from the ruins of the St. John’s Church which was destroyed during WWII. In 1950 Bach’s grave was erected in the chancel to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the death of St. Thomas’ greatest choirmaster. When we went there a group of musicians were practicing some music composed by Bach for a concert that night.

Bach's grave inside St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, Germany
Bach’s grave inside St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, Germany
         

The interior of St. Thomas Church as it existed in Bach’s times has been removed almost entirely. Currently, the church has a splendid cross ribbed vaulted ceiling. The organ here is known as Bach Organ and has an impressive acoustics. One of the windows on the southern side of Gothic triple-nave basilica is called Bach Window. Built in 1895, it is a part of the five memorial windows of this church.

The church is located opposite to Bach Museum in St. Thomas Square and there is no fee to enter the church. Buying tickets ahead of time is recommended if you are interested in any of the concerts that the church holds every now and then.

Mozart’s City – Salzburg, Austria

SALZBURG, AUSTRIA: Salzburg is the city of music for being the birthplace of Mozart and where the famous movie “Sound of Music” was filmed in the 1960s. Mozart and Julie Andrews both made this city a major attraction for many tourists worldwide.

Situated beautifully by River Salzach, Salzburg is one of the most spectacular cities in Europe and one of my most favorite places to visit. I will pick Salzburg over Vienna anytime for its architecture, medieval look, cozy atmosphere, and elegant vibe. This is a city, I sometimes crave to go to and just enjoy its rich history and culture.

One of my favorite European cities - Salzburg in Austria
One of my favorite European cities – Salzburg in Austria
                     

Salzburg is very close to German border and has one of the best-preserved city center in the German-speaking world.  The old town with many Baroque architectures, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. You can never get bored in Salzburg with so many museums, marionette theaters, old churches and landmarks to visit, and a perfect cozy old town with endearing surroundings.

Old town of Salzburg - kept its traditional look from many centuries ago
Old town of Salzburg – kept its traditional look from many centuries ago
            

TIME of TRAVEL: Salzburg was the 3rd destination of our winter road trip in December 2013. My uncle-in-law was here to escape the below freezing temperatures in Chicago and also to spend few weeks with us. The whole trip was for 12 days. After visiting Fussen in Germany and Innsbruck in Austria, we reached Salzburg on the Christmas Eve. Weather was very mild to my surprise. I was prepared for some harsh cold temperature during Christmas for being so close to the Alps, but it was very nice, may be early to mid-40s during day and early 30s after dark…not bad at all.

Building art in the old town of Salzburg
Building art in the old town of Salzburg
               

By the way, this was our second time coming to this city. We have been here during Easter Break of 2009, when we were still living in the US. That time we toured around Europe for 2 weeks. I was longing to come back to Salzburg since then and finally it happened last month. Easter in Salzburg (or may be in whole Europe) is absolutely magical…it’s like Christmas in The States. Whole old town Salzburg was sparkling with lights and egg-decors. I have never seen Easter being celebrated with that enthusiasm before.

I have posted pictures from both of our trips, so you can see what the city looks like in spring and in winter. Excuse the big ol’ yellow dates on the old pictures.

OUR HOTEL: We stayed in Hotel Der Salzburger Hof in one side of Mirabel Palace, but was little away from the old town. It had its own restaurant, free breakfast and Wi-Fi for the guests. But the best part of this hotel was that each floor of it was designed in different theme. Like, one floor was in Mozart theme and ours was in “Sound of Music” theme. Our room even had some scenes from the movie printed on the wall. In 2009, we stayed closer to city center, in Hotel Austrotel, which is now called Hotel Am Mirabellplatz. This one didn’t have breakfast but has a bakery at the end of the street.

One of the walls in our hotel, dedicated to the movie "Sound of Music", in Salzburg, Austria
One of the walls in our hotel, dedicated to the movie “Sound of Music”, in Salzburg, Austria
                 

EATING and SHOPPING: That was a night to remember on Christmas Eve in Salzburg. As soon as we reached our hotel and checked in, we headed out for some food. After walking and looking and searching for a place to eat, the only option we were left with was Burger King. Everything was closed or was about to close. Thanks to BK burgers for saving our growling stomach that night. Next day lunch was some to-go sandwiches and for dinner, we had some lovely Indian food in our hotel restaurant. But the restaurant had some local Austrian dishes too, like schnitzel (fried boneless chicken breast with some potatoes and veges) which my husband tried. Do try “brazen” when you are in Salzburg; it’s like big and fat pretzels that come in sweet and savory flavors. You can get them in pizza, onions, herbs, and many other flavors. If you go there in Easter, you will also see colored boiled eggs (they only color the shell, so it’s ok to eat the eggs) in many bakeries or breakfast places. Another thing you will see here in almost every souvenir shop is Mozartkugeln. They are chocolates with marzipan filling inside…can be expensive but Salzburg is all about Mozart 😉

Brezen, a preztel-like snack, is very popular in Salzburg
Brezen, a preztel-like snack, is very popular in Salzburg
                  

Whole old town of Salzburg is packed with tons of souvenir shops. Browse thru the small stands in Alter Markt or other fancy stores in the old alleys. On our first visit in 2009, we bought a decorative Bavarian beer mug (can be pretty expensive depending on the size). This time my husband bought a Tyrolean hat (very traditional here) with a feather on it…looks a bit like Robinhood’s hat; he regretted very much that he didn’t buy it in 2009. For our home, I got some small this and that from the huge Christmas market in Residenzplatz and Domplatz. The annual Christmas market is here very big and colorful here. Even if you don’t buy anything just come and join the fun, may be try some local knickknacks too. Also, marionettes are very popular here and you will find them in almost everywhere in old town. While you are in Mozart’s town, buy his classical CDs or other memorabilia.

Christmas market in Residenzplatz in the old town of Salzburg
Christmas market in Residenzplatz in the old town of Salzburg
                

PLACES WE’VE VISITED: We spent two whole days in Salzburg during our first visit in 2009. But this time we took “Sound of Music” tour in the morning; so we were left with only half a day to spend in the city. We were dropped off near Mirabel Garden around 1:30pm by the tour bus and then we were off to venture Mozart’s city. Old town is very compact; take your time to absorb its appealing atmosphere. We did everything on foot and it was fun doing it that way.

River Salzach at night, walking back to our hotel
River Salzach at night, walking back to our hotel
             

If you are done with the city and have more time, then try going to the lake-district, close to the mountains…few km away from Salzburg. If you have your own car, it takes about half an hour to reach there. It’s a perfect region for summer tourists and makes a nice getaway from the city-life and of course you will love its stunning natural beauty with lakes, mountains, and villages.

1) MIRABEL GARDEN and PALACE: We started our walk from Mirabel Garden and Palace. We didn’t really go inside the palace because I don’t think it is open to the publics for regular tours. It is said that Mirabel Palace has world’s most beautiful wedding hall and need to be reserved at least a year ahead. We walked via its garden towards Salzach River. Beginning of early spring, this garden looks at its best with fresh flowers and a big fountain in the middle surrounded by sculptures on the four sides. But we didn’t really see any flowers this time. The fountain was not on either. But it is a nice place to stroll around and sit down to take a little break.

Mirabel Garden and Hohensalzburg Fortress it the distance...in Salzburg, Austria
Mirabel Garden and Hohensalzburg Fortress it the distance…in Salzburg, Austria
           

Mirabel Palace is located in Mirabellplatz, little bit away from old town. The walk is only about 10 minutes from old town but very close to Mozart Residence.

2) GETREIDEGASSE: After crossing a bridge on River Salzach from Mozart’s Residence/Wohnhaus we crossed the street and entered the old town. This is a long and narrow street here with full of shops and souvenir places. Stores on Getreidegasse still decorate their entrances with metal signs of what their stores are about, just like the old times. This can be a very crowded place to walk around but I guess that’s why I loved strolling up and down this street.

Old store signs in Getreidegasse
Old store signs in Getreidegasse
             

3) MOZART’S BIRTHPLACE (MOZARTS GEBURTHAUS) and MUSEUM: On Getreidegasse, a bright yellow house stands amongst some other old buildings from few centuries ago. The famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in this house in 1756 and lived here until 1773. Now it’s a popular museum devoted to his life, work, and family. Mozart is a major attraction of Salzburg and his birthplace is a site which his fans wouldn’t want to miss. This museum (along with Mozart Wohnhaus) has the largest collection of Mozartiana worldwide.

Mozart's Birthplace where he was born in 1756 and spent his childhood...Salzburg, Austria
Mozart’s Birthplace where he was born in 1756 and spent his childhood…Salzburg, Austria
                    

This is a very special experience – to see, hear, and absorb the atmosphere of the place where Mozart was born and spent his childhood. In this three level exhibition, the visitors can learn details of his life including domestic circumstances, when he began to play music, his relationship with his family, his passion for opera, and much more. Besides original portraits and documents, there are some rare exhibits from Mozart’s possessions, such as the violin he played as a child and an authentic portrait which was painted two years before his death.

The museum is open daily (including Sundays and holidays) from 9am to 5:30pm and in July and August from 9am to 8pm. You can buy combine tickets for Mozart’s Birthplace and Mozart Residence in any one of these museums for a discounted price.

4) MOZART WOHNHAUS or MOZART RESIDENCE: Also known as the “Dancing Master’s House”, the former residence of the Mozart family stands on the right bank of Salzach River. Like Mozart’s Birthplace, this house is one of the most important memorial sites in Salzburg. By the fall of 1773, the rooms of Getreidegasse had become too small for the Mozarts. The family moved here in 1773 and Mozart himself lived here until 1780. His father died in this apartment in 1787. You can see the rooms used by the Mozart Family and the composer himself.

Mozart Residence, apartment where he spent few years of his life
Mozart Residence, apartment where he spent few years of his life
           

The building was largely destroyed during WWII but was reconstructed according to the original plan to reopen it as a second Mozart museum. Mozart’s own piano, music notes, and some portraits are some particular attractions here. His audio-visual collections, in addition to the exhibitions, contain sound and film recordings concerning the life and works of Mozart – some 22,000 audio and 2,800 video recordings.

Mozart Residence is located in Makartplatz, only 5 minutes of walk from his birthplace and opposite of Mirabel Garden. The museum is open daily (including Sundays and holidays) from 9am to 5:30pm and in July and August from 9am to 8pm. You can buy combine tickets for 12 euros per person for Mozart’s Birthplace and Mozart Residence in any one of these museums for a discounted price.

5) MOZARTPLATZ: This square is dedicated to Salzburg’s talented son, Mozart. A statue of young Mozart stands in the middle here. There was an ice-rink in the middle of the square when we were there in December. Many souvenir shops are here too.

A statue of young Mozart in Mozartplatz, Salzburg, Austria
A statue of young Mozart in Mozartplatz, Salzburg, Austria
               

6) RESIDENZPLATZ: Right beside Mozartplatz is Residenzplatz. St. Michaels Church in Residenzplatz is an old church. It’s a small but beautiful church inside. We didn’t find it open on our 2nd visit but outside the church is very nice too.

Christmas market in Residenzplatz in old town of Salzburg, Austria
Christmas market in Residenzplatz in old town of Salzburg, Austria
               

You can get horse-carriages from Residenzplatz to tour around the old town. Salzburg Museum and Residence Gallery are located in this platz. Christmas market here was one of the gorgeous ones I’ve seen so far. The place was bustling with many tourists and locals – everyone enjoying hot drinks, snacks, sweet treats, and of course doing little shopping along the way. This is probably one of the best places to try some local fresh finger-foods (same goes for the market in Domplatz).

7) DOMPLATZ and SALZBURG DOME CATHEDRAL: After passing Residenzplatz take few steps and you are in Domplatz. Dome Cathedral is one of the grandest architectures in whole of Salzburg. It’s an attractive cathedral both outside and inside. You will just love its high dome, impressive ceiling, majestic organ, old frescoes, and large biblical paintings. I think there is a fee to get inside but it was free on the Christmas Day.

Salzburg Cathedral in Domplatz
Salzburg Cathedral in Domplatz
                 

Domplatz also had a big Christmas market in front of the cathedral. It was also sparkling and dazzling with lights and decors. We bought some brezens (pretzel-like snack) from here and cotton candies for the kids while enjoying this big gathering. When we were here in April of 2009, the square was empty and quiet. There is a beautiful fountain in the middle of the square right in front of the cathedral.

Inside Salzburg/Dome Cathedral in Salzburg, Austria
Inside Salzburg/Dome Cathedral in Salzburg, Austria
              

8) CAPITALPLATZ: Another few steps and on the left side of the cathedral is Capitalplatz. You can see Hohensalzburg Fortress on the hill from all the above squares but the closest view is from here. There is a big fountain in one side of this square right below Hohensalzburg. Play the giant chess if you ever get a chance or watch other people playing it.

Hohensalzburg Fortress on the hill from Capitalplatz
Hohensalzburg Fortress on the hill from Capitalplatz
                  

9) ST. PETER’S CHURCH and CEMETERY: We didn’t go to this church this time. But I remember going there on our first trip. It’s another beautiful church of Salzburg. Can’t remember which square it is situated in, but it was a gorgeous church outside and inside. Before we reached the church, we saw St. Peter Cemetery. This is a really old cemetery and a very calm place. You can see many few hundred years old tombs.

10) HOHENSALZBURG FORTRESS (FESTUNG): This fortress is like the guardian of Salzburg looking over the city all the time. It’s located on top of a small mountain and can be seen from almost any point of Salzburg, far or close. The fortress was built in 1077 and expanded in the following centuries.

Old barracks and quarters of Hohensalzburg Fortress in Salzburg, Austria
Old barracks and quarters of Hohensalzburg Fortress in Salzburg, Austria
                  

We didn’t’ go to up to the fortress this time. If I can remember correctly from our first visit, there are couple museums there and one of them is a marionette puppet museum, called “Welt Der Marionetten – World of String Puppets”. Walking in between its old walls on cobbled streets takes you back to medieval age. Visit small churches and old style buildings of this fortress.

This is probably one of the best places in Salzburg to get a breathtaking panoramic view of the city. You can see River Salzach, steeples of many big and small churches, mountains in the distance, and the whole old town.

Stunning view of Salzburg from Hohensalzburg Fortress
Stunning view of Salzburg from Hohensalzburg Fortress
                

We took a funicular or “Festungsbahn” to go up to the fortress. I am not sure if you can walk up there but that would be quite hard as the mountain is a bit steep.

11) SCHLOSS HELLBRUNN: We didn’t really see whole of this place. As I mentioned above that we took “Sound of Music” tour the day we visited Salzburg. Our tour bus brought us here to show the famous gazebo from that movie where the song “I am 16, going on 17” was shot. It was a short visit but looked very beautiful even in winter with some gardens and little parks. This was originally the summer palace of Archbishop of Salzburg. I am guessing you easily can spend half a day or a day strolling around the garden, parks, and fountains…a perfect place for families with children.

The famous gazebo from the movie "Sound of Music" where the song "I am 16, going on 17" was shot, in Schloss Hellbrunn, Salzburg, Austria
The famous gazebo from the movie “Sound of Music” where the song “I am 16, going on 17” was shot, in Schloss Hellbrunn, Salzburg, Austria
              

Beethoven’s birth place – Bonn, Germany

BONN, GERMANY: Situated by River Rhine, Bonn is the former capital of West Germany. But it is best known for being the birthplace of one of the famous composers of all time, Ludwig van Beethoven, despite his utmost disgust towards his hometown. For its rich culture and admiring atmosphere, Bonn makes a great day trip from nearby cities like Dusseldorf, Cologne, or Frankfurt.

Walking towards city center of Bonn, Germany
Walking towards city center of Bonn, Germany
  

TIME of TRAVEL: We visited Bonn in the first week of May 2013 while we were visiting other nearby cities in Germany like Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, and Heidelberg. The day turned out to be a nice one. Although little bit of cold and cloudy at times but luckily didn’t get any rain.

EATING and SHOPPING: After searching for a good restaurant to eat, we ended up having Sri Lankan food from a cart in Marktplatz. There is McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, and other quick places in and around Marktplatz. Unlike other city centers, we didn’t see any place packed with restaurants here in Bonn, maybe we weren’t looking at the right place.

Bonn is very proud of its talented son Beethoven. You will find many souvenirs and other gifts items with his picture on it, as well as his composed music on CDs. City center is the hub for shopping and has almost all the popular stores along with many unique local places.

PLACES WE’VE VISITED: We stopped in Bonn while driving from Dusseldorf to Frankfurt. Our main interest was to see Beethoven’s house and museum but we ended up spending few hours in its city center. Other than the following places, we drove by two important buildings of Bonn while heading towards Frankfurt. First one was Villa Hammerschmidt which served as the residence of the German president when Bonn was the capital of West Germany, presently this is the secondary residence of the president. Second one was Palais Schaumburg, which was office of Germany’s chancellor and today it is used as a secondary headquarters for the chancellor.

1) STIFTSKIRCHE (COLLEGIATE CHURCH): Its bold brick exterior attracted us from outside, so we decided to check it out from inside. But the church was closed, only could peak thru and take some pictures from the other side of the gate. The church is located near City center but not inside the pedestrian zone.

Inside Stiftskirche in Bonn, Germany
Inside Stiftskirche in Bonn, Germany
   

2) BEETHOVEN-HAUS: Visiting this museum was our primary purpose of visiting Bonn. As I mentioned before, Bonn is the birthplace of Ludwig van Beethoven…one of the great composers of all time. Beethovan-Haus is the house where he was born in 1770 and is now a museum dedicated to his work and life. The Beethoven family lived for some years in this yellow house which today houses the world’s largest Beethoven collection with more than 150 original documents from the time he spent in Bonn and Vienna. His handwritings, music notes, instruments, and many of his belongings are in display here. The museum is well worth the visit and definitely a historical landmark of the city.

Beethoven-Haus - birthplace of the great composer Beethoven in Bonn, Germany
Beethoven-Haus – birthplace of the great composer Beethoven in Bonn, Germany
  

The museum is located in the city center. There are few levels to explore in the museum and took us about an hour for the tour. No photos are allowed inside the house but we could take some picture in the garden and the courtyard.  Ticket is 5 euros per adult and 10 euros per family (with 2 kids and 2 adults). Opening hours are 10 – 6:30 pm everyday and 11 – 6:30 pm on Sundays. Everything in the museum is in German, we took English audio guide for 2 euros which is a must for non-Germans.

3) STIFTUNG-NAMEN-JESU-KIRCHE (CHURCH of the HOLY NAME of JESUS): This is a must-see church in Bonn. The interior design is very different from any other churches we’ve seen so far. The columns and ceiling decorated with blue, grey, and golden paints gave this church that unique look. It’s free to enter and is located in city center very close to Beethoven-Haus.

Inside STIFTUNG-NAMEN-JESU-KIRCHE (CHURCH of the HOLY NAME of JESUS in Bonn, Germany
Inside STIFTUNG-NAMEN-JESU-KIRCHE (CHURCH of the HOLY NAME of JESUS in Bonn, Germany
   

4) MUNSTERPLATZ and DAS BONNER MUNSTER: Munsterplatz is a big square in Bonn’s city center. A statue of Ludwig van Beethoven in front of beautiful post office adds boldness to this place.

Statue of Ludwig van Beethoven in Munsterplatz in Bonn, Germany
Statue of Ludwig van Beethoven in Munsterplatz in Bonn, Germany
     

Das Bonner Munster is a beautiful Romanesque basilica in Munsterplatz. This is one of the oldest churches in Germany, dating back to the 13th century. The basilica is beautiful inside and outside. Main altar is extravagant and very ornate. Nicely curved huge organ is also notable in this church.

The old church organ inside Das Bonner Munster in Bonn, Germany
The old church organ inside Das Bonner Munster in Bonn, Germany
   

5) MARKTPLATZ and ALTES RATHAUS (OLD TOWN HALL): Marktplatz is probably the liveliest square/place in the city center.  Surrounded by many shops, cafes, restaurants this is THE place to hang out and watch locals pass by. There was a farmer’s market when we went there on a Friday and was open as late as 4pm. Marktplatz houses Altes Rathaus or old town hall of Bonn. This is an elegant white building at one end of the square.

Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall) on the right in Marktplatz of Bonn's city center
Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall) on the right in Marktplatz of Bonn’s city center
    

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