Tag: Castle

Salzburg: The Hohensalzburg Fortress, Birthplace of Mozart and The Sound of Music

Looking out over Salzburg Cathedral

Last weekend we went on a road trip to the magnificent city of Salzburg in Austria. It only took two hours to drive there from Passau and it turned out to be an amazing day trip. Salzburg literally means ‘salt fortress’ and it is the fourth largest city in Austria.

Our tickets to the Hohensalzburg Fortress

Salzburg is famous for a lot of things, and one of them is the Hohensalzburg Fortress. It is located on a small hill (called Festungsberg) overlooking the city and it is one of the largest and best preserved medieval castles left in Europe.

The magnificent Hohensalzburg Fortress

You can walk up the hill to the fortress (like we did) or you can take the Festungsbahn cable car right up into the castle. The castle is also known for its private Reisszug line, which was a primitive cable railway built around the 1500’s to provide freight access to the castle – the first of its kind in the world.

Looking out over Salzburg city from the fortress

It cost 8 Euros to get in and it was almost like a small town inside the castle walls. There were a lot of lookout points in the fortress and the view of the city from up there was breathtaking.

The Golden Chamber

The money we paid at the gate also included the admission fee for the museum and viewing the Prince-Archbishop’s residence inside the castle. The Archbishop’s residence had three beautifully preserved rooms and my favourite was The Golden Chamber which was richly decorated with rosettes, golden foliage and animals.

The lookout tower

There was also a part of the castle where you were given a headset to listen to an audio tour in your own language while you looked at various rooms (like the torture chamber). From there the spiral staircase lead up to the 360 degree view of Salzburg from one of the high towers. It was a brilliant experience!

Salzburg Cathedral

After descending the fortress hill, we walked to the Salzburg Cathedral or Salzburger Dom.

The interior dome of the Salzburg Cathedral

The cathedral is a Baroque style Catholic church and the interior, especially the dome, was stunning. It was a kaleidoscope of colours, paintings and intricate engravings!

Salzburg Residenzplatz

Next to the cathedral was the Residenzplatz, which featured the largest Baroque style fountain in middle Europe, which was made of marble and known as Residenzbrunnen.

The marble horses of Residenzbrunnen

There was a lot of imagery of horses throughout Salzburg, from the fountains, to engravings and paintings on buildings to real live horse carriages traveling on the roads.

Horse carriages

From the Residenzplatz, we meandered through the Salzburg Altstadt or ‘old town’ which is known for its well-preserved Baroque architecture and it is marked as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The birthplace of Mozart at no. 9 Getriedegasse

18th-century composer Mozart was born in Salzburg and his childhood home was located in the altstadt, which is now a popular tourist destination. The admission fee was 10 Euros so we decided to skip this particular attraction, but you could also visit the Mozart Wohnhaus where he lived later on in his life.

The Sound of Music tour bus

Salzburg is also famous as being the main setting of the 1965 musical film The Sound of Music. My mum loves this film and I watched it with her a lot when I was younger, so she was pretty excited when I told her I was visiting Salzburg!

Mirabell Palace and gardens

As anyone who has seen the film would instantly recognise, the Mirabell Palace gardens were used as a setting for the song sequence of ‘Do-re-mi’.

‘Do-re-mi’ pegasus fountain

The von Trapp children skip and sing around the pegasus fountain (above) and use the garden steps like a scale as they sing (below). The view of the fortress and cathedral from the gardens was also spectacular.

Looking out towards the cathedral and fortress from the Mirabell Gardens

All in all, I really enjoyed Salzburg – a day trip really wasn’t enough to see everything. There is so much history and awe-inspiring sights here that it’s a treasure trove of wonders just waiting to be explored further. I would love to go back and show my mum around (and maybe even take The Sound of Music tour together)!

So, did you like Salzburg as much as I did?

Would you like to visit this city for yourself?





Heidelberg: My First German Castle and ‘Old Town’ Experience

After thirty hours of travelling I finally touched down at Frankfurt Airport where my Schnucki was eagerly awaiting. He didn’t want my first glimpse of Germany to be the concrete jungle of Frankfurt city, so we drove about an hour south on the Autobahn to a more ‘quintessentially German’ town called Heidelberg.

Famous Madonna Statue in the Corn Market

Heidelberg is famous for its ‘Old Town’ or Altstadt which is an area of the city full of old German buildings, Baroque and Renaissance style structures, cobblestone streets and of course, Heidelberg Castle. Once we got there, we met up with my Schnucki’s friend who had volunteered to be our guide for the day.

My first ‘real’ German Schnitzel definitely tasted better than the imposters sold in New Zealand supermarkets!

We started off by walking down the Main Street or Hauptstrasse, which is a pedestrian only shopping street that runs down the length of the Altstadt. The shopping street is about 1.7 kilometres long (apparently the longest one in Europe) and is full of beautiful old buildings which all have different façade designs – some were plain and some were amazing in their intricate detail. I stared at them in awe as we went past.

Hotel Ritter on the Hauptstrasse is treasured as one of the most impressive examples of a late Renaissance period style structure and is more than 400 years old!

There was a vast array of German shops down the Hauptstrasse and there was the usual tourist-trap souvenir shops and global brands like Pandora and Swarovski which ruined the Old Town look a little bit. The street ended up at the famous Church of the Holy Spirit and Altstadt marketplace, which was full of people dining outside different cafes and restaurants – which was quite an amazing sight!

Altstadt Marketplace and Church of the Holy Spirit in the background

My Schnucki’s friend currently studies at Heidelberg University, so he took us to see the old university library…and what a library that was! The building entrance and façade was so gorgeous – why doesn’t every library look like this?

The Heidelberg University is famous for being one of Europe’s oldest institutions and Heidelberg itself is one of the oldest university towns in Germany. My Schnucki’s friend also mentioned that the university is also infamous for its old school fraternity houses that (rumour has it) still teaches its male members how to dual with swords.

Heidelberg University Library

Our next stop was what I’d been looking forward to the most: Heidelberg Castle.

The castle is located about 80 metres above the Old Town and it’s an impressive sight looking up at it from below. What I didn’t realise until we got up there however, was that most of the castle itself is in ruins and there is only a small portion of it that you can go inside.

Heidelberg Castle

After paying an (overpriced) entrance fee, we got to see the inner courtyard of the castle and the world’s biggest wine barrel (it was truly massive!) and the Apotheke Museum showing the history of German medicine, which was surprisingly interesting. The rest of the inner castle was only open to guided tours so we didn’t get to see that…but the view of the city from the castle was well worth it!

Church of the Holy Spirit from Heidelberg Castle

I really loved seeing the sea of pointed orange rooftops from up there – they just looked so different from what I was used to. These houses looked exactly like how a kid would draw a house; square building with square windows, a pointed roof and a chimney or two.

It was a nice surprise seeing so many beautiful old brick buildings too, because as you may know, my hometown of Christchurch lost all of its brick buildings in the earthquakes. Because of this, I had this idea in my head that brick was an outdated and undesirable building material, but seeing all of these intricately designed brick façades and amazing buildings in the Altstadt definitely changed my mind.

These brick buildings looked so stoic and had such a warm aura…I couldn’t help thinking that Germany was lucky not to be affected by earthquakes.

Old Bridge over the Neckar River

All in all I really enjoyed the charming Altstadt of Heidelberg and I would love to visit again. My favourite parts were the narrow cobblestone streets, rows upon rows of old buildings steeped in history and the view from up at the castle. I just adore towns like this where everything you need is in walking or biking distance and I think it’d be a really great place to live and study.

Heidelberg Castle overlooking the city

Thank you Heidelberg, you were an awesome introduction to Germany!


Did you enjoy my Heidelberg post?

Is this a town that you’ve visited or want to visit?