Salzburg – City Of Mu­sic

Fans of “The Sound Of Mu­sic” may think they are fa­mil­iar with this Aus­trian city. Dianne Board­man finds out how much more it has to of­fer . . .

The People's Friend Special - - CONTENTS -

Dianne Board­man trav­els to this mar­vel­lous Aus­trian city

TH ERE have been over six hun­dred films made in this city,” Anas­ta­sia, our guide to the de­light­ful city of Salzburg, de­clared. “But ‘The Sound Of Mu­sic’ is still the most pop­u­lar de­spite be­ing made fifty years ago. We Aus­tri­ans were never that keen on it, re­ally, as it didn’t show us in a very good light. In fact, it wasn’t even shown on Aus­trian tele­vi­sion un­til Jan­uary 2001.”

Keen or not, the city of Salzburg is giv­ing visi­tors what they want with a new “Sound Of Mu­sic” tour to celebrate the golden an­niver­sary of the re­lease of the film in 1965, and back home a new ver­sion of the stage play is sweep­ing the UK and em­brac­ing a younger gen­er­a­tion with its magic.

The film and, of course, the ear­lier play, were ac­tu­ally based on a real-life fam­ily and their story. Maria von Trapp was a gov­erness who mar­ried her em­ployer. They did es­cape the Nazis by flee­ing to Italy (although by train rather than walk­ing over the Alps) and although con­densed into one sum­mer rather than sev­eral years, the story is based on Maria’s own ac­count pub­lished in 1949.

Maria even spent a few days on the film set and ac­tu­ally ap­pears in the back­ground as Julie An­drews sings her way through the cathe­dral arches.

Julie her­self has been quoted as say­ing she thinks the en­dur­ing pop­u­lar­ity of the film is be­cause it is about faith and fam­ily val­ues, but also be­cause of the won­der­ful scenery that brought her so much plea­sure.

In­deed, the city’s sur­round­ing steep hills and craggy moun­tains, with their streams of mov­ing green mar­ble, frame it spec­tac­u­larly, and the ev­er­mov­ing clouds gave the film­mak­ers in­ter­est­ing skies.

To me, though, the real star was the city it­self, which is why my hus­band and I de­cided to take a wider city tour be­cause it has so much more to of­fer than a film lo­ca­tion. In fact, it is per­fect for a city break, and now that a new air­port tower al­lows big­ger planes from all over the world to land here it is be­com­ing more pop­u­lar.

SALZBURG is a quaint and pret ty city dom­i­nated by a grand for tress and sport­ing an im­pres­sively fres­coed cathe­dral, but we be­gan our tour at Mozart’s Square, where his statue sur­veys his do­main as the city’s most fa­mous and most ad­ver tised son.

Mozart was born here in 1756 and lived in the city into adult­hood. Here he com­posed some of his most fa­mous works, in­clud­ing his first pi­ano sonatas and all five of his vi­o­lin con­cer­tos, whilst work­ing as Kapellmeis­ter to the Arch­bishop’s Court Or­ches­tra.

Both his birth-house and the house he lived in with his wife have been turned into mu­se­ums doc­u­ment­ing his short but gifted life.

There is also a Mozar t Café with a

plush art deco in­te­rior that has be­come fa­mous for its cof­fee and cakes, and sam­pling them gave our legs a rest af­ter all the wind­ing cob­bles.

The café sits on Ge­trei­de­gasse, the main shop­ping street with all the in­ter­na­tional brands and some quirky ones of its own, like a year-round Christ­mas shop.

But its fame comes from the street signs, all in wrought iron and each with a pic­ture rep­re­sent­ing the wares or trade of the es­tab­lish­ment.

My hus­band noted the fact that I walked down a whole street of brightly lit shops with my eyes above the win­dows, for once!

Our tour with Anas­ta­sia took us past the pink-tinged tower hous­ing the Glock­en­spiel, a 17th-cen­tury mu­si­cal clock with beau­ti­ful crowd-at­tract­ing chimes, and a story of two broth­ers who com­peted to build the tallest struc­ture.

Mov­ing on through the arches where the two Marias ap­peared on screen to­gether, Anas­ta­sia ex­plained that the arches were re­ally a con­nec­tion be­tween the arch­bish­ops’ liv­ing quar­ters and the cathe­dral so that they didn’t have to walk out­side.

On a rainy day an af­ter­noon view­ing the op­u­lent State Rooms makes an in­ter­est­ing di­ver­sion, as do the many mu­se­ums in im­pres­sive build­ings around this square.

There were, of course, many arch­bish­ops, made wealthy with rev­enues from the salt that ar­rived here from nearby mines and gave the city its name.

Their money trans­formed the city, be­gin­ning in the 16th cen­tury when the fortress was re­stored to the im­pres­sive struc­ture it is to­day and con­tin­u­ing with the cre­ation of the baroque city on into the 17th cen­tury with the cathe­dral and palaces.

These arch­bish­ops lived lav­ishly with mis­tresses or wives and many chil­dren, and some­how man­aged to keep Salzburg out of con­flicts and wars un­til the 18th cen­tury.

It be­gan to de­cline in the 19th cen­tury un­til the found­ing of the Mozar­teum in 1870 put it back on the map, with an archive of Mozar t’s work and a fa­mous mu­sic school which also in­tro­duced the Salzburg fes­ti­vals.

The cathe­dral where Mozart was chris­tened, with its pale mar­ble faÇade and three huge bronze en­trance doors, plays its par t in the fes­ti­vals, too.

The square out­side is used for open-air plays with its im­pos­ing pres­ence as the back­drop. Be­hind the cathe­dral is a mag­nif­i­cent foun­tain com­pris­ing a horse trough and a tri­dent-wield­ing statue of Nep­tune and be­hind that is the fu­nic­u­lar rail­way up to the for tress.

For “Sound Of Mu­sic” fans, too, there is a path that leads to the Nonnberg Con­vent where Maria lived as a novice nun.

Back down the cliff face we see

the cave en­trance where the von Trapps dis­ap­peared in the film and the theatre where they sang both on Cel­lu­loid and for real.

The ben­e­fit of a guided tour is that you of­ten dis­cover things you might oth­er­wise have missed. Anas­ta­sia walked us through the gates to St Peter’s church ceme­tery and monastery. A ceme­tery isn’t the first place I’d usu­ally head to but this one was some­thing dif­fer­ent.

In “The Sound Of Mu­sic” it was where the von Trapps hid from the Nazis, but I hadn’t re­alised how beau­ti­ful it was, nor how many of the tombs were cut into the rock wall, cat­a­comb-like.

There is also a beau­ti­ful lit­tle chapel that was once a place of pil­grim­age for Chris­tians.

Mozart’s fam­ily is buried here, as were all the noble Salzburg fam­i­lies, in­clud­ing many real von Trapps, although Mozart him­self is buried in Vi­enna.

BY now food was be­gin­ning to cross our minds and af­ter a look at the elab­o­rate St Peter’s church and starker monastery, we headed back through the old mar­ket where stalls were piled high with fruit, veg­eta­bles and flow­ers. In the old town we peeped in­side the an­cient yet mod­ern apothe­cary shop, still dis­pens­ing medicines and vi­ta­mins, and into the ex­tremely el­e­gant Café To­mas­selli which Mozart used to fre­quent.

Fi­nally we set­tled op­po­site at the Café Kon­di­torei Furst, where the gooey Mozart Balls were in­vented and are still made to the orig­i­nal recipe.

Suit­ably re­freshed, we were ready to face the walk across the Salzach River that cuts the city in half. Once over one of the iron bridges it was up­hill all the way to the Mirabell Palace and Gar­dens, again fa­mil­iar from the film. I im­me­di­ately spot­ted the stun­ning Pe­ga­sus Foun­tain which they all danced around singing “Do-Re-Mi”.

We’d done enough sight­see­ing for one day and it was time to find one of those very old cof­fee houses dot­ted around the city.

There, your frothy cof­fee or hot cho­co­late will of­ten be ac­com­pa­nied by an im­promptu con­cert or – as we could hear now in the dis­tance – the strains of an ac­cor­dion play­ing any­thing rang­ing from Mozart to “Edel­weiss” . . .

De­li­cious cakes.

Café Mozart.

Café Mozart in­te­rior.

Wrought-iron shop signs up high.

In­side the old apothe­cary.

The “Do-Re-Mi” foun­tain.

Mirabell Gar­dens.

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