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Archive for the ‘Austria’ Category

I mentioned in an earlier post that we missed out on seeing the Dom in Salzburg on the Saturday because we had no tickets for the concert. So before leaving Salzbrg, we were determined to at least see that one special place. We ventured forth very early over the river to the “Dom Quarter” by trolley bus. It’s so easy with a Salzburg Card. Our main bus stop was outside the Mirabell Schloss, just two blocks from our hotel. All we had to do, was check the map of the bus and trolley bus routes, find the bus route that would take us close to the old town, hop on and go. My feet were so relieved. Not so much footpath pounding. We had explored all that area by foot, now it was time to take the bus!

P1070454  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1070454 © JT of jtdytravels

The bus dropped us close to the old town where we walked throught the narrow streets, empty early in the morning, to the Dom Square. And there, we found to our delight that the church was open. Even more to our delight it was EMPTY. One couple came in for a couple of minutes and then left. After that we had that whole magnificent building to ourselves for half an hour except for a member of staff putting out fresh candles for the day. In the photo above, David, centre aisle, seems dwarfed by the immensity of this magnificent building. Above him is the dome, in front the altar, and surrounding him on the walls are four of the five sets of pipes for the organ. To hear this organ will be top of the list for going back to Salzburg again, outside of the tourist season. It’s just one of the things that will take us back.

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P1070460  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

One of the four side organs in the Dom : P1070460 © JT of jtdytravels

So we may have missed the concert, and we may not have heard the music of the five organs in this place where Mozart played and wrote much of his religious based music, but we had an experience not shared by many. We sat in total silence and peace in one of the most beautiful baroque buildings in the world.

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P1070457  © JT  of  jtdytravels

P1070457 © JT of jtdytravels

We were mesmerised by the wonderful art works and sculptures, the space and light, the whole feeling of “being” in a place created with love and skill by so many artisans. How lucky were we to have to time and quiet to take it all in!

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P1070072 © DY of jtdytravels

P1070072 © DY of jtdytravels

There are several photos in the Dom of the damage done to the dome by a bomb in World War II. It took many skilled hands to restore it, and the rest of the church, to the state it is in today.

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P1070051 ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1070051 © DY of jtdytravels

As I looked up into the perfection of that rebuilt dome, it gave me pause for reflection and remembrance for those whose lives are being torn asunder still today by war and strife. One could not help reflecting in that place of perfect peace, on the need for peace in this world of ours.

Of course the stillness and beauty of the moment was all too soon broken by the first group of chattering, clattering people as the Dom returned to its status as Salzburg’s main tourist attraction. We were so grateful for our very special experience in this church which is really the embodiment of Salzburg’s long history as an ecclesiastical principality. The story of this church showcases in one building, the power and independence of Salzburg’s succession of Prince-Archbishops.

The very first cathedral on this site was built by Bishop Virgil who came to Salzburg in 767. It was consecrated to St Virgil and St Rupert in 774.  That cathedral stood until 1167 when the “Counts of the Plain” destroyed Salzburg with fire. Ten years later, in the time of Archbishop Conrad III, the Cathedral was rebuilt in Romanesque style; it was described as beautiful, magnificent, impressive. That Cathedral stood until 1598 when another fire raged through the building.

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Prince-Archbishop Wolf Deitrich

Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich

Now this was in the time of the reign of Prince-Arshbishop Wolf Dietrich, the one who built Mirabell Schloss. He had great plans for a complete rebuild of the Cathedral. He commanded that the damaged building be torn down. In doing that, valuable sculptures and gravestones of previous archbishops were destroyed, and even more ruthless, he had the cemetery plowed up and the bones of the dead just thrown on the debris pile. As can be imagined, the citizens of Salzburg were not greatly impressed by this! They were, in fact, outraged. But, nonetheless, the foundation stone for the new cathedral was laid in 1610.

But 1611 was a turning point in the fortunes of Wolf Dietrich… and of the Cathedral. After bitter disputes over the salt trade, Wolf Dietrich ordered military occupation of one the major salt mines at Berchtesgaten. In response, Bavarian troops stormed the  archbishopric in Salzburg. Wolf Dietrich tried to flee but was captured and imprisoned in the Fort above the city, Hohensalzburg.

Wolf Dietrich’s nephew Markus Sittikus took over as Prince-Archbishop. He kept Wolf Dietrich as a prisoner in the Fort and had Wolf Dietrich’s mistress, Salome Alt and their children banished from the city. It was Markus Sittikus who commissioned Santino Solari to build the new cathedral, the first Baroque church north of the Alps.

Ther are many more stories about the history of Salzburg in the Salzburg Museum on the Dom Square. That’s a must visit for next time, as is a visit to the Royal Residence, also in the Dom Square and only recently restored and opened.

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P1070461 ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1070461 © JT of jtdytravels

Before leaving, we took many photos to share on our flickr site, but the ones above, will give some idea of why the Dom is so special. It is stunning!

As more and more people began to arrive at the Dom, we left to wander down to the small streets and enjoy a quiet breakfast in a quiet square. Now that’s when Salzburg is at its best. We hope to go back one day to enjoy so much more of this fine city and of its surrounding countryside, villages, mountains and extensive lakes areas.

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P1070485  ©  JT  of  jtdyravels

P1070485 © JT of jtdyravels

Having enjoyed so much of the art and sculptures of the baroque period, it was interesting to pass by a contemporary art gallery on the lower side of the Dom Square. One of the larger pieces, above, was striking, yet simple in its construction using plain running stitches in green wool on black silk.

All too soon it was time to head back to our hotel to collect our bags, climb on board another bus to the main rail station for our train to Innsbruck. We need not have hurried as it turned out. Our 11am train did not get away from the station before a strike of rail and station workers, called to start at 11am, began.  As other trains arrived at the many platforms of this station, they too stayed still. It was an odd feeling to be sitting in a train at a station full of trains going nowhere.

The stop work meeting concluded at 12 noon and we were soon on our way to Innsbruck. More of that city anon.

Jennie and David

Photography ©  JT and DY  of jtdytravels

More photos on our flickr site

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

More of our travels stories on this blog site and on

www.dymusings.com

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As the heat continued to envelop Salzburg, we did the only sensible thing and headed for the mountains that surround the city. It was quite easy really. Just outside the Mirabell Schloss, we caught the local #25 bus and headed, with other like minded escapees, to the countryside. Most got off at either the zoo or Hellbrunn Palace but we continued further on to the end of that bus route, to the very base of the Untersberg mountain. After a quick breakfast, we joined a short queue for the cable car which would take us up that mountain and away from the heat of the valley. What a good idea!

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Up to the mountain top!

Up to the mountain top!

The bottom station is at 456 m, and the top station is at 1776 m, so we rose a total of 1320 m in that cable car. The first section is a really long free hanging span of 1,548 m between the station and the first pylon. Two cable cars run as shuttle traffic, one going up as the other comes down. Each car can take up to 50 people so I was very lucky to be able to stand at a front window and photogragh the views during our ascent. This is perhaps not for those queasy of heights or of hanging in mid air, but it is, for me, always a very special experience to be able to go up into such mountain areas.

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View from the cafe at the top.

Looking out over the heat hazed valley below.

At the top, we found ourselves not only hundreds of metres  above the valley floor and the heat hazed city, but ten degrees cooler. And there were added advantages: wonderful scenery and a chance to hunt for wildflowers. Although we were above the tree line, except for a few low growing alpine conifers, there were lots of tiny alpine flowers to discover. I have added photos of both scenery and flowers to my flickr site, web link at the end of this post.

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One of nature's natural rock gardens.

One of nature’s natural rock gardens.

The paths at the top are not easy walking, as one might imagine. But for those who can manage them, and who feel so inclined, there are walks further upwards and onwards for mountain hikers, but we do not fit into that category. Some scrambled up to the mountain climbers memorial (at Geiereck, 1805 m) while others began the hike to Salzburg Hochthron Mountain, (1856 m). A few others began the crazy, in my opinion, task of walking down the mountain on what appeared to be little more than goat tracks. We, on the other hand, found a seat on the outdoor area of the small Hochalm cafe from where we could enjoy the view in relative cool. And right beside our seat was a delightful natural alpine plant rock “garden”. Perfect!

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And for David on a hot day, nothing better than  a large cold beer.

And for David on a hot day, nothing better than a large cold beer.

While the Salzburg valley sweltering in the heat far below us, we enjoyed a cool respite, and cool drinks. David enjoyed his Kaiser Karl beer which came in a glass to match the brew. This we found to be a common practice in many of the places we visited. Each area seemed to have its own local, or at least national beers, and in several places there were many boutique beers as well. I, on the other hand, enjoyed the cool, fresh taste of pure tap water from the Austrian alps.

We stayed at the top until after a delicious lunch in the mountain air, and then caught the cable car back down to the small village where the #25 bus awaited us. The palace of Hellbrunn was to be our next stop.

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Cool water feature at Hellbrunn Schloss.

One of the many water features at Hellbrunn Schloss.

Hellbrunn Palace with its many pools and water features was built in the early 1600s by Saltzburg’s Prince Archbishop Markus Sittikus, the one who renamed Mirabell Schloss. It was built as a “Lustschloss”, a pleasure palace, and that is how it was used during the hot summers of his reign.  This Salzburg ruler made sure that he was surrounded by invited aristocracy and beautiful women at his summer residence. And, for the hot summer months, he made use of the plentiful supply of water from the mountain to add the cooling effects of water into the design of his extensive parklands.

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Wet bottoms for all - except the Prince Archbishop!

Wet bottoms for all – except the Prince Archbishop!

As temporal as well as religious leader of the community, Markus Sittikus was extremely wealthy… and he also had a rather unusual sense of fun. The many water features in his Wasserspiele, all look wonderful, but they also have trick features. For it was not just a sense of fun that was on display in these gardens. There was also often an element of Markus Sittikus showing his guests just who was “top dog”.  At the flick of a switch he could have his guests made extremely wet! At a table used for summer feasts, the archbishop could flick a switch under his seat to make jets of water come up through the stone chairs of his guests, making them extremely wet, while he stayed dry.

In one of the grottos, a crown, representing him, rose on a jet of water while those watching were sprayed with water which came from many unsuspected places. At another place, there’s an incredible scene of the opera Don Giovani, with a hundred or so cast all moving to the music, all powered by water. Watching, fascinated, it’s easy to forget that somewhere, sometime, fine jets of water will undoubtedly rain upon you. And so they do!

Many of the grottos, the coolest places, have highly decorated ceilings… But beware, at the whim of the archbishop, or in our case, of a uni student enjoying the “best summer holiday job ever”, those in the grotto find them selves cooled by fine mists of water. It soon became obvious that the best way to elude a drenching, was to find the floor least wet to stand on. But that didn’t always work. I was caught by a special directional spray when our young friend realised that I was completely dry! No-one escaped. But who cared. A cooling spray of water on a hot day was most welcome. The children in our group had a wonderful time and soon became completely drenched. Mothers had come with towels and a change of clothes and everyone had a great time.  More photos on my flickr site.

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A cooling spray.

A cooling spray.

Just before we left the water garden, we had to walk through a guard of water jets, just for luck. It was all a lot of fun and a great way to stay cool. A walk through the palace park soon had us dry and seeking refuge in another cool spot, the palace itself, which held some interesting displays of life in the Archbishop’s time.

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Inside the palace.

Inside the palace.

To help visiors enjoy the palace, and learn about the important features of each room and the whimsies of the archbishop, headphones are available in several languages. These came as part of the entry ticket, not an added extra! I’ve added photos on my flickr site (see link below).

We did the whole day, bus, cable car, Palace entry, all on our Salzburg card, so really had good value for the money spent on the card. And we had seen some of the countryside and had been so much cooler than in the city.

As we left the palace, a storm was looming. We made it back to the hotel before, thankfully, the storm brought some cooler temperatures and fresher air to the city. While the storm spent itself we rested and then, in a much cooler evening, we went out to go the concert at St Andräs church. We must have misread the venue; we were the only ones there! However there was someone playing the organ and trying out the various stops, so we were able to sit and enjoy that. I still don’t know where the concert was to be!

So, no concert, but instead a delightful cool evening walk in the Mirrabell Gardens. This time, not nearly as many people and a chance to enjoy the walk. And when we got back to our room, there was a concert of Beethoven’s 7th on the TV… and that was most enjoyable too.

More anon

Jennie and David

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Photography copyright ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

more photos for this post are on our flickr site

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

in albums titled

AUT: Untersberg Cable Car

AUT: Hellbrunn Schloss

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more of our travel stories can be found on

www.dymusings.com

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Salzburg was hot in mid July, very, very hot and humid. It was also crowded, very crowded with tourists who had arrived in town for the annual Salzburg Music Festival and to see the newly opened Dom Quarter Museums and former Residence of some of the Salzburg ruling Prince Archbishops. And, it was school holidays. Not the best time to be in Salzburg! I had not been to this celebrated baroque city since 1969 when we were able to wander in peace and to imagine how it must have been in Mozart’s time. This time, that was just not possible. Perhaps the best time to visit Salzburg, the famed Baroque city, the Rome of the North, is in the spring or autumn. Then it may still be possible to wander quietly and not have to jostle your way around the streets which are indeed filled with beautiful buildings, all looking well maintained. We bought a two day Salzburg Card so that we wouldn’t have to line up at ticket offices but even that is not much help when every venue is so full of people. I chose our hotel close to the Mirabell Palace and Gardens which I had long wanted to visit. From there, I thought,we could walk everywhere and that would be good. I didn’t count on the hot weather! We found the pavements were so hot that, after some walking, our feet ‘burned’ in our shoes. And even when we arrived ‘home’ from our exploring in the evning there was no relief from the heat. Our hotel purported to be four star, but there was no air con., not even a fan, and only one opening window. In general, Salzburg hotels provide for the need for warmth in the winter not for cooling in the summer. With heat well over 30 degrees until late into the evening and not a breath of air all night, it was not at all pleasant. It was all a bit of shock to us after the cool evening breezes at our previous stay beside the lake at St Wolfgang.   Mirabell Schloss and Gardens, Salzburg On our first day in Salzburg, we walked to the Mirabell Schloss, a Palace built in 1606 by Prince-Archbishop Wolf Deitrich to celebrate his love for his mistress Salome Alt.  With Salome, Wolf Deitrich had had fifteen children, ten of whom survived. He named the Schloss, Altenau, but it was renamed Mirabell by the next Prince-Archbishop, Markus Sitticus who had had Wolf Deitrich imprisoned in the Hohenslazburg Fort.

Like almost every visitor to this palace, we climbed the outside steps to a position on a small hill beside the Palace. From there we looked into the distance across the formal Mirabell Gardens to the dome of Salzburg Cathedral, the Dom, and on up towards the Hohensalzburg Fortress on its perch high above the city. To get there was our goal for the afternoon. .

Marble staircase at Mirabell Schloss

Marble staircase at Mirabell Schloss

What I particularly wanted to see in this palace, was its magnificent baroque Marble Hall, the ballroom.  During the years 1721 to 1727, the then Prince-Archbishop, Franz Anton von Harrach, employed the the famous baroque architect, Lukas von Hildebrandt, to redesign the palace. He was resposible for the stunning beauty of the ballroom. In this room, a young Mozart and his sister, Nannerl, once played for the aristocracy. Concerts are still held in this hall.

The Marble Hall and the massive marble staircase in the palace, were fortunately untouched by a fire which swept through the city of Salzburg on April 30th, 1818. Although we were able to climb that staircase and see the many cherubs balancing on the balustrade and view the beautiful sculptures by Georg Raphael Donner that adorn all the large niches, we did did not see the ballroom.  It was closed to visitors that day because of a continuous stream of Saturday afternoon weddings. It’s apparently a very popular place for civil weddings… and why not? .

Modern altar and stain glass windows of St Andras Kirche on Mirabellaplatz, Salztburg.

Modern altar and stain glass windows of St Andras Kirche on Mirabellaplatz, Salztburg.

Just across the road from Mirabell Gardens is St Andräs Church. It’s not one of Salzburg’s famed baroque churches. It’s newer, being built in the 1890s.  The simplicity of its interior without any elaborate detail and the modern style of art works was a refreshing change. IHere the church is dominated by a stylised altar, art work by Karl Weiser, and three figurative glass windows. I’ve always been fascinated by the development of pictorial glass windows through the centuries. These three windows represent St Mary and the saints, each figure represented being named on an interpretive board in the side aisle of the church. As well as being fascinated by the variety of religious art through the ages, we found on this particular day that churches indeed also offered the coolest place for respite from the heat. We hoped to return here for an evening organ concert. On Thursday mornings the large square in front of this church changes from being a car park at a main bus/tram stop to being a colourful farmer’s market…. a pity we weren’t there on a Thursday. Next time perhaps! .

The church of the Holy Trinity, Salzburg.

The church of the Holy Trinity, Salzburg.

Still on the right bank of the river, on our way to the old town and Dom Quarter, we popped into the Holy Trinity Church, the Dreifaltigkeitskirche.  It’s part of a large seminary for the training of priests. I had thoughts of another quiet rest stop but, just inside the door, our way was barred by a grill.  At least it was cool in there. This church, although in the Baroque style, is much simpler in style that many baroque interiors in Austria and elsewhere in Europe. The floor of the church is elliptical in shape, as is the dome above. .

The imposing towers of Salzburg Cathedral, the Dom.

The imposing towers of Salzburg Cathedral, the Dom.

Crossing the river, we jostled with hundreds of other tourists in the narrow streets making enjoyment of the buildings an impossibility. We finally came to the large Dom Square and headed for the Dom. We were both looking forward to our visit there and perhaps a quiet sit in the cool as we took in the magnificence of this masterpiece of Salzburg’s buildings. That was not to be! The crowd trying to get into the church was huge. We were not aware of the fact at the time, and there were no signs to alert us to the fact, that there was a concert about to begin. We thought we would just have to wait our turn to get inside. When we got closer to the door, we realised that a concert was indeed about to begin. All tickets sold. By now we had become unwittingly caught up in the push and shove of the crowd as people pushed their way in to claim a better seat. We, of course, were not allowed past the door, so had to fight our way back out! It was a nightmare made more so by a lady pushing a wheel chair who was determined that she would run over my toes rather than let me get back out. It’s moments like that a really good knowledge of the language would have been helpful. We decided to retreat to a small restaurant for a meal. We had not had lunch so something to eat was in order plus we needed a break from the heat and crowds. It would have been nice to sit in one of the shaded small streets where the sun never gets a chance to enter. But the street side cafés were, as usual in Austria, full of smokers. We finally found a small air conditioned place where we were able to enjoy a delicious salad and cold water. It was great to have a rest in a quiet spot that, for once on this hot day, was not in a church. .

The main Dom Square, Salzburg.

The main Dom Square, Salzburg.

After that we headed back to the main Dom Square  but the heat coming off the vast area of white pebbles was relentless, so we needed to have a plan B. .

The soaring stone pillars of the Franciscan Church, Salzburg.

The soaring stone pillars of the Franciscan Church, Salzburg.

Well, there was another church nearby. There seemed to be churches everywhere. This one was the Franciscan Church and although it was busy with tourists, at least it was cool in there. This church, like the more famous baroque Dom, has its origins right back in Salzburg’s early Christian period. But whilst the Dom was a bishop’s church, and thus of the aristocracy, the Franciscan church was built as a church of the people, by aspiring Salzburg burghers and business men. The early church was constantly being destroyed by fire. But the current Gothic style church, dating back to the 1400s, was constructed of solid stone with soaring pillars and an air of elegance. It’s meant to be a place of quiet meditation…. That is, it should be, except for the babble of tourists. .

The Hohensalsburg Fortress high on a rocky crag above the city.

The Hohensalsburg Fortress high on a rocky crag above the city.

Perhaps, we thought, it might be a little cooler up on the hill where the old fort was built. Our Saltzburg Card included a ride up there on the funicular and entrance fees to the fort. So to the Fort we went. And that was a very good idea. At least there was a zephyr of a breeze up there. .

An image of the fort almost as it is today after centuries of bits being added on.

An image of the fort in 1653, almost as it is today.

And inside the very thick old stone walls of the fort there were some cool, quiet spots with seats to rest and take in this massive old fortress. The fort was begun in 900 and has been added to over the centuries until the late 1600s. In one area there was a video display of computer generated images of the way the fort had grown over the years. It had begun with just a small square building and grew to meet the needs of the town’s defences. I took photos of a few of the images. I was fascinated by the archeology and the way the story of the fort has been pieced together. The photo above is more or less the fort as it is today, much the same as in 1653. It is very large and contains many, many steps! David went on to climb those myriad steps and explore more of the fort while I enjoyed a quiet time under a very old tree in the main courtyard. It was a much better option for me! .

The view from the Fortress down across the old city of Salzburg.

The view from the Fortress down across the old city of Salzburg.

Later, we went up onto the parapet that gives a wonderful view down over the city with the Dom taking centre stage. From there we could see just how far we had walked, from beyond the trees near the river in the centre distance. And we could also see how far we had to walk to get back to the hotel! It was still over 30 degrees and very humid. It was a long, hot walk back to our hotel. We did have a bit of a break in a square where a couple of men were playing street chess. We joined a few onlookers, and like them enjoyed a cold ice cream. Then, somehow, I managed the rest of that hot walk and finally fell onto the bed with huge relief. There was still no movement in the air. So as we lay there, seeking some relief from cool, wet towels, we made plans to get out of the city the next day, Sunday, when the heat threatened to be hotter and the crowds threatened to be much larger.  More of that anon.

To see more photos of this day in Salzburg, go to our flickr site:

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

Once on our site, just click on albums and select the relevant albums:

AUT: Salzburg a) Mirabell Palace

AUT: Salzburg b) St Andräs Church

AUT: Salzburg c) Walk to the Old Town

AUT: Salzburg d) Huhensalzburg Fortress’

More anon

Jennie and David

Photography copyright ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

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