Salzburg, Austria

The rain came at last!

It drizzled all the way from Obermmergau to Munich, then to Salzburg.

I didn’t have any plan for what to see/do in Salzburg. So after stowing away my luggage I went for a walk.

Just as the wind picked up, threatening to tear my umbrella apart and letting the cold rain lash on me, I chanced upon this cafe, known as the original maker of the Mozartkugel – a small ball shaped confection with marzipan, pistachio, hazelnut nougat and dark chocolate, named after the hometown composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Nowadays you can find Mozartkugel almost everywhere in Germany and Austria, but only those handmade exclusively at Fürst’s can be called “Original Salzburg Mozartkugeln”.

Seeking refuge from the rain, I stepped into Cafe Konditorei Fürst and ordered a cup of hot cocoa, a marzipan potato pastry, and of course, a Mozartkugel. What a disappointment that was! The potato pastry was dry and uninteresting. I’ve had better ones at Nielsen’s Pastries in Seattle. As it turned out Mozartkugel wasn’t my cup of tea either, handmade or not, it was overly sweet to my taste.

But wait, that’s not all…for a guy came, sat down at the table next to me, he ordered a slice of the Mozart Cake…It was love💖 at first sight! The cake looked creamy and moist. I swore that I shall be back the very next day to claim it mine.

Once the rain diminished, I resumed my amble, crossing the Salzach river and into Altstadt.

At the edge of the old town, I spotted a store selling plush toys.

If I were a kid, Steiff would be my favourite place on earth.

Next door, a window display filled with mugs of various themes.

The main drag of the Altstadt is a busy pedestrian street called Getreidegasse – the Grain Lane. It is a shopper’s (in my case, a window shopper’s) paradise.

Other than the big shops and restaurants on each side of the lane, competing with their elaborated wrought iron signs

McDonald’s and Zara, anyone?

There are “secret” passageways that lead to smaller and cuter shops, such as this one selling high-end Christmas ornaments.

Of course the most famous residence on Getreidegasse is Mozart’s Birthplace, at no. 9.

The greatest musical genius of all time was born here on 27 January 1756.

A statue of Mozart can be found nearby, at Mozartplatz.

 The statue was to be erected in 1841 on the 50th anniversary of W. A. Mozart‘s death. However, the unveiling of the monument was delayed by a year because a Roman mosaic had been found in the ground, which took time to recover. On 4 September 1842, the statue was ceremoniously unveiled in the presence of Mozart’s sons. The Bavarian King Ludwig I was an important sponsor of the Mozart statue and donated the marble pedestal. A copy of the Roman mosaic can still be found at the foot of the statue. Source: Salzburg.info

Wlolfgang Amadeus Mozart was buried in Vienna. For a long time he was a Viennese composer in people’s memory. It was not until the 1830’s, in anticipation of the 50th anniversary of the composer’s death, that the idea arose to honour the musician in his hometown of Salzburg.

There’s also a TI (tourist information office) at the square, wherein I picked up a copy of the program for the ongoing Salzburg Culture Days and a brochure for Salzburg Walk of Modern Art.

On my way to Salzburg Cathedral, I noticed a plaque mounted on the wall of a church, “in somber rememberance” of the first public burning of books staged by the Hitler Youth, following the Nazi annexation of Austria, on Residenzplatz on April 30, 1938.

The quote on top was by German poet Heinrich Heine (1797-1856) who famously foretold the human tragedy stating “That was only a prelude — When you burn books, ultimately you will also burn people.”

The Salzburg Cathedral, built in the 17th century, is of early Baroque style. It was damaged in 1944, during WWII, when a bomb crashed through its central dome, and was restored by 1959.

The façade is made of Untersberg Marble. The four statues are: Apostles Peter and Paul holding a key and a sword, as well as Salzburg’s two patron saints, Rupert and Virgil, clasping a salt vessel and a model of the church. The two escutcheons at the top of the gable commemorate the two builders of the cathedral, Markus Sittikus and Paris Lodron. The Cathedral Square,  with a statue of the Virgin Mary, forms the atrium – serving as the imposing backdrop for the performances of Jedermann during the Salzburg Festival as well as for the beloved Christmas Market. Source: Salzburg.info

Inside the cathedral finds a medieval bronze font with lions at its base, Mozart was baptized here on 28 January 1756, the day after his birth, as was Joseph Mohr, the Roman Catholic priest who wrote the lyrics for the Christmas carol “Silent Night!”.

The cathedral is home to a 4,000-pipe organ, with which Mozart supposedly played during his time here as an organist.

Upon exiting the cathedral, my attention was drawn to one of its bronze doors. I was expecting something similar to Lorenzo Gherbeti’s Gate of Paradise – instead this particular piece struck me as contemporary by design. And so it is. The three doors of the Salzburg Cathedral are the works of three different artists dated from 1956-1958. They each represents Charity, Faith and Hope.

The Door of Hope, as pictured above, was created by German sculptor Ewald Mataré. It depicts scenes of the Annunciation, with Angel Gabriel descending from the sky bringing the news to the Virgin Mary. The hand symbolizes God, the sun the Holy Spirit. The inscription next to Mary reads “IN TE SPERAMUS” – In You We Hope. Surrounded by enameled white blossoms finds the nativity scene and the Expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. Mataré’s other works include the doors of the Church of Peace in Hiroshima as well as the Taubenbrunnen (pigeon fountain) in front of the Cologne Cathedral.

The church bell rang six, with that the night fell. I was in the neighborhood below the Hohensalzburg Fortress and followed my nose to a pub called Pauli Stubm. You wouldn’t know from the outside, but inside the place was packed with locals. All the tables were fully booked. I got a stool at the bar.

The food was fantastic. I ordered an organic home-brewed lager, my favourite beef consommé (by now) with a big liver dumpling and a local dish called Kasnock’n – homemade spätzle baked with speck and three types of cheese – Emmentaler, Bergkäse (mountain cheese from the alps region) and beer cheese – in a cast iron skillet. This reminded me of another dish called tartiflette from the French Alpine town of Chamonix, except in this case the use of spätzle adds more texture to the dish, crunchy but not chewy, and the variety of the cheese gave it a more profound flavour, the nuttiness from the mountain cheese for instance, all the while not as gooey as the French dish. It’s perfect for the cold weather in this region. The owner, with whom I chatted at the bar, was friendly and enjoyed a good conversation.

After dinner, with a happy, warmed-up stomach and drunken hands, I took a lovely stroll back to the hotel.

Along the way, I discovered this sculpture called Awilda by Catalan artist Jaume Plensa, at Dietrichsruh.

Interestingly, it reminded me of another piece at the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle. They are the works of the same artist, four years apart.

Coming up next: Sightseeing in Salzburg

24 thoughts on “Salzburg, Austria

  1. How interesting that you found this statue by the same artist! And that the sweets were too sweet for you! Too bad that I was not there to help you out. 😀

    My only memory of Salzburg is a peculiar one. I was there for the Neil Young show in the square when he toured with Pearl Jam in 1995 (without Eddie Vedder singing). After the show I stayed up all night with my friend and we walked around, touring the open bars till the morning. It could be a “Before Sunrise” moment, alas, he was just a friend and the night dragged on. 😀

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  2. I only had a day in Salzburg over five years ago, as a day trip from Munich, and it really is such a lovely little place! I didn’t get to try the Mozartkugel, but based on what you wrote, it sounds like I didn’t miss out on much! I did visit the interior of Mozart’s Birthplace, which was a lot larger than one might think, and simply wandering the Old Town, especially during the holiday season, is sure to get you in the mood! I’m all for a good, hearty spätzle, and that’s one thing I miss about living and traveling abroad in that part of Europe. Hope to read more of your adventures in Salzburg (perhaps to the Fortress Hohensalzburg?).

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      1. Good to know. I’ve seen the movie so many times, would be nice to see where it was filmed. Well, that’s why they have the tours. I was on a train once with some Canadians who had gone on the Sound of Music tour. They were on the tour bus and said they played all the songs from the movie. They had FUN!

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  3. Thank you for a thorough, enjoyable tour of the city! I must visit Salzburg when Austria “reopens”. On my one visit in college, I only made it to Innsbruck. I love the street signs in the shopping district (somehow making a McDonald’s deserving of a slot). I also love the succession of a beautiful cafe, a children’s shop, and the window of mugs. Makes what is surely a big city seem quaint. On the other hand, I’ll pass on those modern doors to the cathedral. I’d much rather see something akin to Ghiberti’s baptistery doors in Pisa.

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    1. Thanks Dave. I’ve never been to Innsbruck. The Tyroler Symphony Orchestra(from Innsbruck) was playing at the Salzburg Culture Week, that’s as close to Innsbruck as it gets on this trip lol. Hopefully I will be able to visit there some day. The shops are so cute in Salzburg.

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  4. What a great write up ~ it made me think of my time so long ago when I was walking those same streets. A magical place and your writing/photos do it justice. And yes, the photo of the last sculpture looks very, very, similar to the one at the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle ~ which if all goes well with my travels, I’ll be seeing at the end of the coming week 🙂 Cheers to you during this holiday season.

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