Author: Damir Konestra
Photo by: Astoria arhiva
The city of salt, Mozart – and, yes, ˝Mozartkugeln˝. An average reader might thus describe one of Central Europe's jewels – one whose city center is under the protection of UNESCO, accompanied by the conclusion that Salzburg's center contains an incredible urban and architectural complex in a small space, one that illustrates one of the most significant periods in human history. The surroundings of Salzburg ought to also be added to this, with their immaculately furnished countryside castles some of which are open to the public and to tourist visits, while certain halls within them can also be rented for three hours, for the price of several hundred Euros – for weddings, receptions, presentations and other events.
The city is dominated by the Mönchsberg mountain, on which a magnificent castle fortress is located. The seat of the Salzburg bishops. Yes, the entire city was, in the past, a diocese governed by a bishop.
At the foot of the Mönchsberg mountain and its powerful fortress which, the locals stress, has never been conquered by any army (they surrendered to Napoleon to save it from destruction), lies Salzburg with its large Franciscan cathedral, an array of palaces and commercial streets, and on its left the river Salzach, that splits the city in two, plus a range of interesting restaurants and pubs.
For All Interests
The entire city gives an air of the bygone days of gleaming carriages, pompous crinolines and the shiny boots of cavaliers, but a modern story also weaves itself into this historical framework that is so skillfully and persistently safeguarded. Several of the concert halls that are not exclusively devoted to Mozart present world-famous achievements in classical music. The Mönchsberg mountain is home to a museum of modern art that is accessed from the city with a 100-meter high lift. The museum houses a very abundant collection of the works of modern masters, but also every year organizes three large thematic exhibitions in co-operation with other modern museums around Europe. It is a special experience to visit the beer museum, the largest one in the world, which is located within ˝Stiegel˝, Austria's largest private brewery, and there try the several brands of beer that it produces.
At the foot of the hill, at both sides of the Salzach river, there is an abundance of locales for modern entertainment. Innovatively designed slow food restaurants and kitchens work till the early morning hours. In the restaurants that don't offer slow food delicacies, one can sample the local gastronomic treats. What they all have in common is - superb quality and friendly prices. Which also goes for the pubs, in which every day beer flows literally in rivers. The pub beside the Augustine monastery on the Kapuzinerberg (opposite Mönchsberg) is a huge complex that consists of three halls, all of which can fit around a hundred tables. Here you can bring your dinner with you from home, or buy it at one of the kiosks at the entrance of the pub – what matters most is that you go to the tap to pour beer every once in a while.
Salzburg lives a life of tourism 365 days a year. However, perhaps it's at its most beautiful and remarkable during the season of Advent. Decorated for Christmas and full of magical lights with open-air stands that offer handmade products and typical local merchandise and stores that sell Christmas and New Year's decorations. These decorations are so renowned and respected that two stores sell them throughout the year, even in summer! By walking through the city at this time, one can at every step feel the atmosphere of ˝Silent Night˝- a song that was created in Oberndorf, a village near Salzburg. It is an exceptional sensation of something magnificent, something that you yourself also become a part of.
Although you won't find it mentioned as a skiing center anywhere, there are around twenty large skiing complexes around Salzburg, all within a half-hour or hour long bus ride away. (The surroundings of Salzburg also host 28 golf courts, which bring the city hundreds of thousands of overnight stays during the summer). There is a guide in every bus that will provide you with a ski pass and equipment, if you happen not to have it and organize lunch, a ride on a horse-drawn sleigh – everything you are interested in, and all this during the ride to the destination. It is a wonderful feeling to ski all day and, after that, find yourself in a comfortable hotel in the center of a city that offers so much sophisticated entertainment and pleasure after a ride of only half an hour.
The surroundings of Salzburg are equally interesting. Let us mention the steam train ascent from Wolfgangsee to Schafberg mountain, or perhaps the cable car ride from St. Leonhart to Hochalm peak, which offers a scenic view of Salzburg and the entire region.
If you wish to awake the child in you (and who doesn't!), you ought to by all means visit Hellbrunn Castle. This graceful castle with a huge park came into existence as the love nest of one of the Salzburg bishops, who built the entire complex for his lover. However, a large number of nobles also used to meet here for wanton parties and merry socializing, to which a system of watery ˝surprises˝ also contributed. Around the entire castle there are surprise fountains, hydraulic toys powered by water, from bizarre ˝fountains˝ built into chairs to complicated contraptions that spin, emit sounds of birdsong or simply soak you while you are passing through a narrow corridor. Wet and bright red from laughter and joy, you can later enjoy the castle's first-class cuisine.
Everything worth seeing in Salzburg is included in the ˝Salzburg Card˝ pass. Offered are special three-day packages that include bed and breakfast and a tour of all the interesting places in the city for only 140 Euros per person. Salzburg's tourist board says that it has, in this way, managed to increase the number of visits to certain tourist attractions, and also increase the total revenue from tourism. The pass can also be used for all modes of public transport (bus, tram and river boat).
One building on Salzburg's international airport stands out is the so-called ˝Hangar 7˝. It was built as an endowment from Dietrich Mateschitz (Matesich), the owner of ˝Red Bull˝ and the second richest Austrian. The hangar represents a museum, concert hall, exhibition salon, an exclusive restaurant and TV studio all in one. However, the entirety of the hangar is a single magnificent sculpture made of glass and steel, a huge egg-shaped sphere that looks like a giant spaceship from afar.
A collection of Mateschitz 's planes (including the presidential plane which Tito traveled with) and Formula 1 race cars is located in the museum. A bar is located under the roof of the sphere, while one part of it fits two restaurants. A classic restaurant is on the ground floor, while a first-rate gastronomic mecca - a restaurant which features the most eminent chefs from all around the world – is located above. The cutlery is made of gold and silver, the prices are seldom below 1,000 Euros, and it is always fully booked for several months in advance.
Hangar 7 is also a large concert hall, pop and rock concerts of the world's biggest stars are held in it, while a local TV transmits a show about sports and a culture and lifestyle show twice a week from the hangar. Since its opening, Hangar 7 has become a tourist mecca that is visited by millions every year. It is the best example of how responsible entrepreneurs share a part of their wealth with the community.
So, actually the entirety of Salzburg has come about in the same way – as a large endowment of art, culture and the art of pleasurable living, which makes this city an ideal tourist mecca.
One other story is related to Salzburg - the true story immortalized in the film ˝The Sound of Music˝. George von Trapp was living in Salzburg when his wife Agathe died and when he began his search for a governess, which lasted until he found Maria, who he would also marry later. This is all very well known. However, it is less well known that von Trapp was born in Zadar! And that he, together with his parents, had lived in Pula as a submarine captain. His parents are also buried at the naval cemetery in Pula. However, the trivia does not end here. Von Trapp's first wife, the Agathe who bore him so many children, was Agathe Whitehead from Rijeka, grand-daughter of the owner of the first torpedo factory in the world, the one in Rijeka! And it was in Rijeka, during the demonstration and testing of a torpedo, that she also met von Trapp!