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.

Advertisements

“When will you realize, Vienna waits for you?”

VIENNA, AUSTRIA: Billy Joel sang this song “Vienna” in 1977 and the song brought back some awesome memories of our trip to Vienna while I was listening to it in YouTube. I had to dedicate this post on Vienna to that song and to Billy Joel.

Vienna is the capital and the largest city in Austria. Surprisingly, history of this town goes back to 25,000 years but the written history is from the Roman period about 2000 years ago. This was the home of the Habsburg family along with various empires from the past. For being the capital city of monarchy, you will see lots of rich cultural and historical buildings here. After WWII the city was left with much ruins. But thanks to Austrian authority, the city looks marvelous now with some touches from the past blending well with the look of present.

Historic city center of Vienna - a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Michaerplatz near Hofburg Palace)
Historic city center of Vienna – a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Michaerplatz near Hofburg Palace)
               

Austria is the country of Mozart and classical music. And just like Salzburg, you will see Mozart’s picture everywhere including in candy wrappers. Try to attend some symphonies or opera if time allows, you will see people selling tickets of various performances everywhere in old town.

I have to say there is something about Austria that leaves sweet feelings in your heart, not sure if it’s the people, or Mozart, or landscape, or history, or culture, or music or a combination of everything. I enjoyed Salzburg more than Vienna, 5 years ago (also recently in December 2013) when we came to Europe. But the charm of both the cities is undeniable.

Innere Stadt or 1st District of Vienna, you can see the green dome of Hofburg Palace
Innere Stadt or 1st District of Vienna, you can see the green dome of Hofburg Palace
               

Austria is a German-speaking nation, but locals are very good at English too. This is a huge city and is divided in many districts. We mostly stayed in Innere Stadt, also known as 1st District. For day trips from Vienna, you can consider crossing the border and going to Bratislava in Slovakia.

TIME of TRAVEL: This was the second destination of Easter Break road trip that we took in April of 2012 (yeh, quite a long time ago, this post was overdue). After visiting Nurnberg, Germany, we drove about 5 hours to reach Vienna. It was a great day in Vienna when we arrived. After staying here two days we headed for Bratislava, Slovakia. It was not warm that day, we had to wear light jackets the whole time…but I guess that was expected in April here.

If you are here during Easter break, you will see that Easter in Europe is like Christmas in the U.S.A. It’s gorgeous, very festive, and more colorful than what I saw in America. Vienna was the same too…eggs, eggs everywhere.

Easter decoration in front of Schoenbrunn Palace in Vienna
Easter decoration in front of Schoenbrunn Palace in Vienna
              

OUR HOTEL: Our hotel was K&K Palais Hotel in Vienna, very close to the old town and within walking distance from most of the main attractions. It had free breakfast buffet and Wi-Fi. From outside, it looked like the hotel itself was a building from couple centuries back.

EATING and SHOPPING: I can’t remember now what we had for dinners in those two nights in Vienna. But for lunch, first day we picked up some pizza from a train station near Austrian Parliament. And let me tell you that was one of the best pizza I had in my life…because it had slices of eggplant on it, haha. Next day, we had again a quick lunch in the Easter market in front of Schoenbrunn Palace. Something you can try in all over Austria is schnitzel, a fried piece of meat with vegetables and potatoes.

Our first lunch in Vienna, a slice of pizza from a train station - pizza with slices of egg-plant...still can taste it in my mouth
Our first lunch in Vienna, a slice of pizza from a train station – pizza with slices of egg-plant…still can taste it in my mouth
                     

Graben in old town is a very good place to buy souvenirs of Vienna. Also we saw a big Easter market in front of Schoenbrunn Palace and it was attractive. Buy Mozart CDs, Mozart chocolates – Mozart Kugel (candy with marzipan), and other Mozart related items from here.

Easter market in front of Schoenbrunn Palace in Vienna
Easter market in front of Schoenbrunn Palace in Vienna
             

PLACES WE’VE VISITED: We had a day and half in Vienna. We spent a whole day in the old town on the first day and half a day in Schoenbrunn Palace the following day before we started our drive to Bratislava.

Old town of Vienna (Innere Stadt or 1st District) is beautiful beyond my words. This historic part is a UNESCO World Heritage site and like an open-air museum with things to see and enjoy all around. You just have to love its old artistic buildings everywhere. There are tons of museums near and around the city, one I was interested in was Sigmund Freud Museum, which we couldn’t go to. Old town and its surrounding are big but we did it on foot. Enjoy the abandoned famous and grand buildings while you are walking on cobblestone streets of Vienna. Here are the thing we could fit in during our visit to Vienna, lucky you if you have more time to spend here.

Beautiful statue outside an old building of Vienna
Beautiful statue outside an old building of Vienna
                  

1) GRABEN: Graben is the old district of Vienna where we started our tour from. This is a pedestrian path full of cafes, boutique shops, and beautiful old buildings. This is a perfect place to watch street performers, sit down and watch people go by. An old statue “Pestsaule” stands in the middle of this cobble-stoned street surrounded by many sidewalk cafes and stores. The statue was constructed to commemorate people who died in plague.

Graben - a long stretch of cobble-stoned path in historic Vienna
Graben – a long stretch of cobble-stoned path in historic Vienna
             

You can see St. Peter Church in Peterplatz of Graben. We didn’t go inside but looks like an old church of Vienna…something we should have visited maybe.

2) MICHAELERPLATZ and ST. MICHAEL CHURCH: About few minutes of walk from Graben, Michaelerplatz is a nice square right in front of the entrance to Hofburg Palace. There was an excavation we saw from the Roman times (at least 2000 years old) in Michaelerplatz. Lots of boutique stores and designer shops are packed in Michaelerplatz. On one side stands beautiful St. Michael Church.

3) HOFBURG IMPERIAL PALACE: This is a must-see attraction of Vienna. Hofburg is the former palace of Austro-Hungarian Habsburg dynasty. It was their winter residence once but currently serves as the official residence of Austrian President. The palace once housed some of the most powerful people in the history of Austria and whole of Europe. You can visit the imperial apartments of Empress Sisi or Elizabeth and her husband Franz Joseph.

A big portion of the palace houses ceramics, porcelain, and potteries that were once used by Austro-Hungarian royal families. It’s a huge collection with room after room displaying Victorian styles of bone china, silverwares, dazzling ceramics, exclusive porcelain arts, dinnerware, centerpieces, glass works, and candle holders ….one is more elegant than the others. One of the grandest rooms displays the way tables were used to be decorated for royal guests…something I’ve never seen before.

Hofburg Imperial Palace in Vienna - the way dinner table used to be decorated for the royal guests
Hofburg Imperial Palace in Vienna – the way dinner table used to be decorated for the royal guests
                    

Hofburg Palace also houses Sisi Museum. Sisi was the daughter-in-law of Austro-Hungarian Empress Maria-Theresa and wife of Franz Joseph. She was a modern and a bit rebellious type of princess who broke some royal rules and was murdered at the age of sixty.

Other than the museums inside the palace, inner courtyard of Hofburg is a nice place to take a stroll and go back in time with the old façades of various buildings. Hofburg Palace houses number of interesting museums like weapons and armory collections, coin collections, musical instruments, and lots more.

A courtyard of Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria
A courtyard of Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria
           

It’s conveniently located in the heart of Vienna and has few gates to enter the palace. Plan to stay here about 2 hours or so. It was 10.50 euros per adult and 6.50 euros for kids 6 – 18 years of age. Audio tour for each visitor is included in the ticket.

4) HELDENPLATZ: This is a beautiful square with some greens in the old part of Vienna. It’s a good place to get a horse-wagon to take you around. The most prominent building here is Austrian National Library with a statue in front. We didn’t go inside but I am sure you can take a tour inside the library and from the outer look of it, I could tell inside must be as grand as its front façade. From Heldenplatz, you can see Austrian National Parliament and the spires of Vienna Town Hall.

Heldenplatz with Austrian National Library in the back
Heldenplatz with Austrian National Library in the back
          

5) MARIA-THERESIEN PLATZ: Few steps away from Heldenplatz is Maria-Theresien Platz. A statue of Maria Theresa, who was a powerful Austro-Hungarian (Hapsburg) queen, dominates this square. The square is like a museum quarter, containing Natural History Museum, Art Museum, and couple other ones.

Statue of Maria Theresa, a powerful Austro-Hungarian Queen, in Maria-Theresa Platz
Statue of Maria Theresa, a powerful Austro-Hungarian Queen, in Maria-Theresa Platz
          

6) AUSTRIAN NATIONAL PARLIAMENT: After visiting the above square we came out of the old district and ventured into the newer part of Vienna. Austrian National Parliament is a handsome building with many statues in the front. It’s situated on a very busy area which is on the other side of Heldenplatz (about 5 minutes of walk). If I can remember correctly, the parliament was closed in weekends but tourists are welcome to take guided tours inside at regular business days or when not in session.

Austrian National Parliament in Vienna, Austria
Austrian National Parliament in Vienna, Austria
                

7) VIENNA CITY HALL (RATHAUS) and BURG THEATER: Vienna City Hall is very close to the parliament. It’s a stunning Gothic-style edifice with few spires reaching up to the sky. There is a big park in front and surrounding the city hall. And when we went, some kind of sporting event was going on here with some vendors selling sporting gears and goods, bicycling stunts, and etc.

Gothic-style edifice of Vienna City Hall
Gothic-style edifice of Vienna City Hall
             

Across the park of city hall, on the other side of the street, is Vienna’s beautiful Burg Theater. This is another well-known landmark of the city.

Burg Theater as seen from Volks Garden in Vinnea
Burg Theater as seen from Volks Garden in Vinnea
           

8) VOLKS GARDEN: Volks Garden is a beautiful greenery space in the heart of Vienna. Opposite of the parliament and town hall, and beside Burg Theater, Volks Garden is a place that connects old district to the new part. It was nice to walk around this garden and enjoy some beautiful sculptures, fountains, and trees.

Volks Garden in Vienna, Austria
Volks Garden in Vienna, Austria
        

9) TREASURY MUSEUM: Next we came back to old town again and stopped at Treasury Museum. This is a royal treasury chamber where you can see some expensive imperial valuables including Hapsburg crown, scepter, sword, hand embroidered royal robes and capes, jewelries, religious items, and gold-plated serving dishes. May be the most significant of all is the gold royal crown decorated with many different precious stones and jewels.

Royal Crown and scepter in Treasure Museum of Vienna, Austria
Royal Crown and scepter in Treasure Museum of Vienna, Austria
              

It was 12 euros per adult and free for children under 18 years. Museum is open every day from 9am – 5:30pm except Tuesdays and last admission is at 5pm. It took us about an hour.

10) ST. STEPHEN’S DOME or STEPHANSDOM: This was our last stop of day 1 in Vienna. This is the most beautiful church in Vienna and one of the tallest churches in the world.

St. Stephens Dome in Vienna, Austria
St. Stephens Dome in Vienna, Austria
           

The dome is also located in old town, a bit further away from Hofburg Palace. The square in front of the church, Stephansplatz, is big and energetic place to hang out. It was very crowded but loved its lively atmosphere. Stephansplatz is packed with lots of shops, cafes, restaurants, and old historic buildings.

11) SCHOENBRUNN PALACE: This is one of the major touristic attractions of Vienna and you shouldn’t leave the city without visiting this place. The palace kind of reminded me of Versailles Palace in France. It is one of the most important cultural monuments in Austria and is a part of UNESCO World Heritage site.

The palace was a gift from Emperor Francis I to Austro-Hungarian queen Maria Theresa on their wedding. It was their preferred summer residence while Hofburg Palace served as their winter residence.

Back of Schoenbrunn Palace and its garden in Vienna, Austria
Back of Schoenbrunn Palace and its garden in Vienna, Austria
               

There are tons of things to do in Schoenbrunn Palace. You can spend a whole day here and will leave with more things to check out. After visiting inside the palace rooms (photos weren’t allowed) we came out to the garden. I am sure the garden looks better in summer, but even in April, it was nice walking on the ground towards the panoramic terrace. Privy Garden or Romantic Arbor is decorated with many sculptures and an impressive fountain on the other side. If you keep going up passing the fountain, you will see Gloriette or Panorama Terrace. The terrace is a bit elevated and view from there is stunning. You can see almost the whole of Vienna and the palace complex. There is an artificial lake in between the terrace and garden.

Stunning view of Scheonbrunn Palace and Vienna from Panorama Terrace
Stunning view of Scheonbrunn Palace and Vienna from Panorama Terrace
         

Another section of Privy Garden includes a big part for the kids. We spent some time in the park, maze, and water fountain playgrounds with our girls. Finally, a palace which was kids-friendly! There is also a children’s museum inside the palace complex. Family ticket to the children museum is 20 euros for 2 adults and 3 kids.

It took us about half an hour from the old town Vienna to reach Schoenbrunn Palace. We had our own car but there are buses that leave daily from Innere Stadt. For private cars, a big parking ground is available very close to the palace. The palace offers different types of tours. “Classic Plus” covers everything except the zoo and takes about 4 hours. A self-guided audio tour is included in the price. With this tour you get to see the apartments which depicts life-style of the royals, garden, and its big complex.

“Sound of Music” Tour in Salzburg, Austria

“SOUND of MUSIC” TOUR in SALZBURG, AUSTRIA: Salzburg become really famous with English-speaking people or at least those who are into English movies by the musical film “Sound of Music”. It was Julie Andrews’ one of the most famous works in her acting career. She played the role of “Maria”, a nun who was appointed to take care of seven children of an Austrian imperial navy captain. Based on a true story of a family with seven children and their father Captain Von Trapp, Christopher Plummer played the role of the captain. The setting of the story was from 1939 during the onset of WWII and the movie was shot in 1965.

I got acquitted with this film when I was very little and my mom used to sing “Do Re Mi Fa…” with much enthusiasm. She even tried to teach us that song (my mom was a professional radio singer and a music teacher) in her harmonium. I have some fond memories with this film and vividly remember my mom singing those melodious songs around the house and doing her chores.

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
            

In our first trip to Salzburg in April of 2009, we spend all our time in the city looking around its old part and the fortress (Hohensalzburg Festung) on the hill. But this time (during Christmas break in December 2013) we decided to go on with this tour to get out of the city. Also because both of our daughters watched “Sound of Music” so many times that they memorized all the songs and most of the dialogues from it.

We booked the tour with “Panorama Tours”. They are the most popular here for this trip. You can book thru you hotel or reserve your seat online ahead of time, like us. They operate even on holidays like Christmas day! Bus leaves every day at 9:30am and 2pm and lasts for 4 hours. It is 40 euros per adult and 20 euros for children 4 – 12. We were picked up from our hotel around 9:15am and taken to their main office near Mirabell Palace. Bus was about half full because it was Christmas day. The guide was fantastic and so was the driver.

Our "Sound of Music" bus in Salzburg, Austria
Our “Sound of Music” bus in Salzburg, Austria
           

We were first taken to Leopoldskron Palace, just few kms away from Salzburg old town. This palace was used to only shot the “backyard” scenes of the movie. And the lake you see in the picture is where Maria (Julie Andrews) and the kids fell off the boat in one scene. It is a very scenic spot of Salzburg. We couldn’t go inside or even near the palace since it is not open to public, only saw it from the other side of the lake.

Leopoldskron Palace was used to shoot all the "backyard" scenes of Julie Andrews' "Sound of Music"
Leopoldskron Palace was used to shoot all the “backyard” scenes of Julie Andrews’ “Sound of Music”
            

Next stop was Hellbrunn Palace garden. This is a bit away from the city. Before entering the palace there is an unpaved and tree-shaded road. This long path was used to shoot a small portion of “I have confidence” song when Maria left her abbey, got of the bus and went to captain’s house for the first time.

The purpose of coming to Hellbrunn Palace was to visit the famous gazebo of “Sound of Music”. It was shown in the songs “I am 16, going on 17” (with Lisle and Rolf) and “Something good” (with Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews). The gazebo was originally located in Leopoldskron Palace garden during the movie but later it was moved here.

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
              

From Hellbrunn Palace, we drove by the mountains which you may have seen in the last scene of the movie when the family escape to Switzerland. Another spot we just drove by and didn’t make a stop was Frohnburg Palace. This yellow mansion was used only to show front façade of captain’s home. All the scenes inside the house were done in Hollywood.

Frohnburg Palace, they used only its front facade for captain's home in "Sound of Music"
Frohnburg Palace, they used only its front facade for captain’s home in “Sound of Music”
             

Third place we drove by without stopping was Nonnberg Abbey in Salzburg, within walking distance from Hohensalzburg Fortress. This abbey is from 740 A.D. and is still active. This is where the real Maria served as a nun. The movie also used the same spot to shoot Julie Andrews’ life as a nun. The abbey is not accessible to public.

From here, we took a long drive through the mountains and lake-district of Salzburg. This was a very scenic drive with breathtaking views of Alps, meadows, trees, and lakes. After passing Fushel Lake, we made a quick stop at Wolfgang Lake in St. Gilgen. This whole region was shown as an aerial view at the very beginning of the movie and the mountains here were used to shoot the infamous “Do Re Mi Fa” song of this movie. Lots of people come here during summer for many water activities, to just relax by the lake, and to enjoy Alpine beauty. By the way St. Gilgen is also the birthplace of famous composer Mozart’s mother.

Stunningly beautiful Lake Wolfgang in St. Gilgen
Stunningly beautiful Lake Wolfgang in St. Gilgen
           

Our last destination of the tour was the “Wedding Church” in Mondsee. This is the place where Captain Von Trapp and Maria get married in the movie (not in real life). It was a former Benedictine monastery which is now called Parish Church St. Michael or Mondsee Basilica. The original monastery was founded in 748 A.D. Inside the church is extremely gorgeous and elegant, no wonder they chose this spot for their special wedding scenes. This church was selected over the actual abbey (Nonnberg Abbey) for the wedding scene due to its elegance and beauty. Even though in the movie it was portrayed that Maria and Captain got married in Nonnberg abbey!

The "Wedding Church" where Captain and Maria got married in the movie
The “Wedding Church” where Captain and Maria got married in the movie
             

The small village of Mondsee is situated by stunning Mondsee Lake surrounded by the Alps. The city center where the church is located is absolutely beautiful. We didn’t have time to go by the lake, but I am assuming it must have a breathtaking view.

We were dropped off near Mirabell Palace and Garden in Salzburg at the end of the tour. Few scenes were also done in this beautiful garden. But the most remarkable statue was seen in some scenes was the statue of a Pegasus. It was moved around the city few times, I think, before it could find its final home in Mirabell Garden.

Pegasus in Mirabell Garden which was seen in the movie couple times
Pegasus in Mirabell Garden which was seen in the movie couple times
      

Overall, this trip is a must for the fans of “Sound of Music”. Not only you get to see some spots of the movie right in front of your eyes but also you get to experience some Austrian Alps and its lake-district. It was a wonderful experience…probably the best part of this trip was when a lady on the other aisle started singing some songs from the movie with the CD our driver was playing on our way back to the town…I felt like I am in the movie singing too. By the way, my favorite song is definitely, “Edelweiss…Edelweiss, every morning you greet me, small and white, clean and bright, you look happy to meet me.” What is your favorite song from “Sound of Music”?

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 5,653 other followers

Blog Stats

  • 593,039 hits
%d bloggers like this: