Having assessed all the advantages of the Bad Hofgastein ski resort, yet we decided to fulfil our trip to Austria with a portion of historicism. The nearest and the most wanted candidate to be seen over was Salzburg – a city that gave Mozart to our world.
In this country the roads are perfect even in winter. In a way to the most musical city of Austria we noticed a massive castle at one of the mountain tops. Hmm, looks like the schedule for today is tightening, we ought to visit it on our way back!
One hour later our tiny, but nimble Punta entered this famous city at the northern base of the Alpine mountains. Salzburg welcomed us with a heavy sky and wet nasty sleet. You must admit that after the sparkling snow and homeliness of Bad Hofgastein Salzburg may seem unfriendly and cold.
We open the guidebook: “One of the most beautiful city of Europe; a city with the ideal design; the invited Italian architects created a miracle in the foothills of the Austrian Alps”. And now when we have already seen Salzburg, I want to object to the guidebook: those Italians were building better at their own places – whichever city you visit in Italy, you admire it and want to stay there forever.
Salzburg is different. Ideally clean, ideally gray, severe and ascetic as a monastic cell. I was thinking for quite a long time whether to tell about Salzburg at all, but we can’t blame the city for being ruled by the bishops, rather than temporal powers for too long, till the very XIX century.
In my opinion this fact left some kind of an imprint on the appearance of the city and on its lifestyle. And that gray February day has significantly deepened such an impression.
And sure enough, I find rather interesting to talk it over with those, who have also visited Salzburg and probably have another impression of this city. Please put your comments if so.
Salzburg’s “Old Town” is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The city is located on both banks of the Salzach River, arched over with several beautiful bridges.
On the left bank there is the Old town with the main sightseeing. Churches, abbeys and castles predominate in the overall picture of Salzburg.
And the right bank in its turn has started to be developed quite a while ago – in the XVII century. And for me it seemed to be more bourgeois and alive. The main sightseeing of this bank is the series of palaces and gardens with a beautiful name Mirabell Palace or Schloss Mirabell. This place provides the best view at the fortress, rising above the old Salzburg.
The historical part of the city is a narrow slip of ground between Salzach River and rocky mountains – the Mönchsberg (the Mountain of Monks) and the Festungsberg (the Mountain of Fortress). The city seems to be digging into the rocks. Wherever you look at: one side of the street stops at the river and another – to the rock. I don’t suffer from claustrophobia, but such a space constraint straightens you up a bit.
The city was named after the salt, which was a century-long main source of income. Salzburg was founded by Saint Rupert, and though this Saint received a special holiday in his honor, he has no match for another Salzburg’s resident in his fame.
Salzburg is a birth-place of Mozart above all. This city gave several dozens of luckless years to Mozart, and the generous composer in his turn brought a world-wide fame to Salzburg. That’s a pretty one-sided exchange.
Mozart never liked Salzburg. The city was too tight and stifling for his compulsive personality. Mozart was just one of the bishop’s servants, instead of being a notable genius of music. Today no one will judge a talent, if he runs after every petticoat or falls in love with a new actress. Oh, things were different during the times of Mozart.
His father – Leopold Mozart – was a court musician of the bishop and he thought his music from the very youth. The father amusedly noticed that Mozart started to compose when he was five. And he wrote such an adult music pieces that many famous composers never managed to create in the valve of their years.
Since Mozart reached eight, he began to perform on tours at the Austrian, German and French courts and even visited Italy – so called Mecca of music. The performances lasted for four hours and the boy had a poor health.
When Leopold lost his son, he wrote in his diary that such an early concert practice may have exhausted Amadeus’s health at the very outset – the child was frequently down with different diseases. And they treated with quicksilver back then.
It’s easy to write about Mozart. You wear earphones, listen to the great, undervalued by the majority of his contemporary music, and the story arises like with a wave of a magic wand.
He was like a meteor, burst into the demure life of the provincial Salzburg and completely burned in its atmosphere for a short 35 years. His house is still preserved and being shown with pleasure to all comers. But his grave wasn’t kept. The composer died in deep poverty and was buried in one of the common graves that have been dug over every 6-7 years – so nobody knows, where Mozart lies.
There is no authentic living portrait of Mozart as well, even the death-mask crashed. So, all images and monuments are very tentative and we know Mozart as a puny man wearing a huge white wig.
Drawing a line to this sad story, I want to mention a version of poisoning of Mozart by Salieri, discounted even by the contemporaries. Did you know that in 1997 Antonio Salieri was completely justified in Milan?!
The legend about the poisoning of Mozart has never been proved out with any evidences. And 200 years after the death of the composer the trial took place in the Palace of Justice in Milan, where all the available historical documents were considered. On the grounds of this examination the court rendered a verdict that Antonia Salieri has no pertaining to the death of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
And the glory, which had never reached the composer during his life, still stands a good stead for the city of Salzburg.
But let’s come back to the city streets. The Hohensalzburg Castle was built in far 1077. It has changed its look several times during the centuries – it has always been extended. People say that Napoleon was the person who ended this process by saying: one more brick and I’ll blow it all to hell! He did not ruin the fortress, but he took away everything that was possible from it. Nowadays there is a museum of the history of the city and military history of Austria.
The Salzburg Cathedral – is the first baroque cathedral on German-speaking lands, they say it can accommodate ten thousand of believers. Salzburger Dom has a marble front and two symmetric towers – rather modest from outside.
But the cathedral is no doubts worth seeing inside. You feel like walking inside, having a seat, and then walking along again…. It is amazing. Five organs! Someday great Mozart turned them into singing with a touch of his fingers.
The interior decor of the Salzburg Cathedral is out of the words, the biggest touristic interest is attracted by the baptistery, where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was baptized, and the amazing main organ, surrounded by the angels, playing music.
We also noticed splendid gates, leading to the cathedral, they also turned to be sightseeing – they was made by the luxurious gates masters Mantsel, Mathare and Manzu. These gates are so huge and heavy that they are almost impossible to move – I tried!
St. Sebastian’s Church was built in the beginning of the XVI century by the Italian architect Andreas Berteleto. And at the graveyard we found the eternal rapture of Мozart’s father Leopold, his wife Consatanze and the “father” of the modern medicine doctor Paracelsus.
And this seems to be a monument to another famous inhabitant of Salzburg – the confectioner, Paul Fuerst – the creator of the rounded chocolates, called “Mozartkugel” and known all over the world.
Salzburg for centuries produced and sold salt and later beer. But thanks to Mozart, the citizens have their own symbol-souvenir. They started to produce first original chocolates «Mozart» in 1890 and back then the chocolate balls were wrapped in silver-blue tin foil, rather than golden-red.
These chocolates for Salzburg became something like Russian Nesting Dolls for a tourists who came to Moscow – they are being sold by a half of the city.
The café-confectionery FURST is still working. Now it is owned by the grandchild of the founder, who created the famous «Salzburger Mozartkugel». A rounded chocolate with a small marzipan inside and a picture of Mozart on its tin foil with a caption: «Original Mozartkugel». Every chocolate ball is attached with a certificate. We bought the chocolates for everyone, and, frankly speaking the taste is not that extraordinary if to compare with homemade chocolates of Bruges, Belgium.
The citizens of Salzburg are great entrepreneurs! When the city filled with tourists, they started to order colorful packs in the form of violins for all local chocolate sweets, make cardboard advertising “Mozarts”, which now could be seen at every single shop window.
What a strange city. Gray color dominates all over the place and allocates the feeling of non-stopping rain in Salzburg.
There are no halftones, everything is too much: a cathedral gray outside turns to be amazingly decorated inside and the colorful shop windows of «Mozart» sweets strike with the poor taste. These sweets are no doubt not the best in the world, contrary to the outstanding music of great Mozart.
And the best sweets are produced by hand in my favorite Bruges, and also I am fond of Codiva sweeties…
The farewell with Salzburg was easy and fast, we left it with joy as we were awaited by Bad Hofgastein with its blue sky and perfectly white snow. Moreover Burg Hohenwerfen was on our way.
The castle seems to be completely unassailable, such an aerie. But according to the old Austrian tradition Burg Hohenwerfen was closed till the spring. We were a month earlier! There is a unique museum of the falconry in the castle and they give performances of the hunting falcons. Of course, we failed to see them. Winter is the worst season for visiting Austrian castles. But it is amazing even outside!