Hellbrunn Palace was built between 1613 and 1619 by Prince-Archbishop Markus Sittikus. It is named after the clear(hell) spring(brunn)” from the namesake mountain that supplied it.
The palace is famous for its Mannerist Trick Fountains.
Newly equipped with audio guides, the Trick Fountains are open to public daily from April 1st (April Fool’s Day) through November 1st.
The Fountain visit begins with the Roman Theater, decorated with pebble mosaics. Emperor Augustus stands in the middle. Above him is the coat of arms of Markus Sittikus – a combination of Ibex from his family’s coat of arms and the Salzburg Lion.
The marble royal table, in front of the steps, is where the Prince-Archbishop entertained his guests, who were seated on stone stools alongside of the long table, while he sat on the narrow end. Wine was cooled with spring water in the deep groove at the center of the table. Late at night and probably after generous consumption of wine, the host gave a signal and a lever was pressed…
Jets of water shot up from the guests’ stools.
Due to the strict customs of the court, one could not stand up without permission – Nevertheless, those who did would be hindered by curtains of water, created by 87 lead pipes hidden in the floor – As to the Prince-Archbishop himself? Both he and his stool remained DRY!
Steps away from the Roman Theatre, is the Orpheus Grotto.
Orpheus is a gifted musician in Greek mythology. According to legend, he lost his wife Eurydice, after she fell into a nest of vipers and suffered a fatal bite on her heel. Here in the grotto, Eurydice is seen lying on a pillow under the spell of Orpheus’ violin playing, which is said to tame even the wildest animals around him.
The Big Grotto rooms in the palace basement are laid out symmetrically. The center and largest grotto in the palace is dedicated to Neptune, the god of water.
At the feet of Neptune is the hydraulically operated Germaul (grimacing face)
It rolls its eyes, sticks the tongue out, and from time to time tilts its water-logged jaw forward. Rumour has it that the Prince-Archbishop Markus Sittikus intended the gesture for his enemies and enviers.
Two rooms down the right of the Neptune grotto is the Birdsong Grotto
where different bird calls are mimicked with the help of a hydraulic mechanism. Click here for a behind the scene look at the mechanism that powers this water feature.
To the left of the Neptune Grotto is the Shell Grotto.
The artificial Ruins Grotto is directly behind it. It appears to be on the verge of collapsing any moment.
In front of the Big Grotto is the Star Pond, surrounded by a semicircular fountain grotto topped with Perseus holding the head of Medusa.
Next, walking along Prince’s Way, five little mechanical theatres can be seen on the left of the canal. The themes are both mythological and everyday life, such as a knife grinder working with his wife at the grinding wheel,
Or Perseus slaying the sea monster to free Andromeda.
Opposite the Small Mechanical Theatres, crowned by three small obelisks, is the Venus Grotto.
The bouquet of flowers at the goddess’ feet is real and remains fresh for a long time, owning to the water spewed by the dolphin.
Venus’ son Amor (Cupid) is shown blindfolded holding his arrow of love.
Two turtles are connected by a jet of water.
Can you tell which one disperses the water, and which is on the receiving end?
The Mechanical Theatre dates back to the mid 18th century. It depicts life of a small Baroque town.
There are 163 figures in total, made of lime wood. A single water wheel sets wooden wheels in motion that move 141 figures by copper wares. The mechanical operation as such produces deafening sound. Hence a water powered organ, with 200 wooden and metal pipes, was installed to drown out the noise.
The Crown Grotto was completed after the death of Markus Sittkus.
The up and down of the brass crown symbolizes the rise and fall of power.
Before exiting the garden, finds Actaeon. Our unlucky hero stumbled upon Artemis (Diana in Roman) bathing in the woods. Enraged, the goddess of wild animals, the hunt, and vegetation turned him into a stag, torned apart by his own hounds.
The hellbrunn complex also contains Salzburg Folklore Museum.
Hosted inside a building called Little Month Palace, on top of a small mount, it was formerly a hunting lodge for Markus Sittikus.
Sound of Music fans find the gazebo in which Liesl sang “I am sixteen going on seventeen”.
Finally a glimpse of the Prince-Archbishop himself at the Palace exhibit.
Markus Sittkus is an avid music lover and patron of the arts.
He is responsible for having Claudio Monteverdi’s L’Orfeu performed in Salzburg in 1614.
It was the first opera performance north of the Alps.
Coming up next: Lunch at Esszimmer, Salzburg