Salzburg, Austria  |  November 20 to 21, 2017

For classical music lovers, Salzburg has something for you. For old castle lovers, Salzburg has something for you. For Christmas lovers, Salzburg has something for you (in the wintertime, of course). Salzburg has something for everybody. This riverine city has a rocky history—first being its own principality, then becoming dominated and annexed by the Habsburg Austrian Empire during the time of Napoleon.

Salzburg, which literally means "salt castle", is another one of the European cities where the old town is a place straight out of a fairytale. Perched on a hill is the Hohensalzburg Fortress (Festung Hohensalzburg), which has been around for nearly a millennia, and offers sweeping views of the Alps and the rest of the city. We made our way to the base, where we were able to take a small cable car to the top. Once at the fortress, we were able to see the famous views we had heard about all day.

After an exceptional tour of the fortress, we made our way into the old town, where Christmas markets and stores were greeting us with all kinds of goodies. Also, Christmas decorations and shops filled with ornaments, carousels, and holiday treats lined the streets of Salzburg.

Another aspect of Salzburg that adds to its fairytale-esque atmosphere is the Baroque-style churches and cathedrals. First, there is the 400-year-old Salzburg Cathedral (Dom zu Salzburg) that houses some unique artifacts. Outside the cathedral is a bizarre gold ball with a man on top. At first, I thought it was Obama, but I was mistaken. I couldn't find an explanation as to what that was, but hopefully, you can get an answer if you go to Salzburg!

For the architecture lovers, another Baroque church is the Kollegienkirche (wrongly called 'Universitätskirche' on Google Maps). Initially designed in the 17th century as a church for the University of Salzburg (Universität Salzburg), the church later becomes a hay store during the Napoleonic Wars and a military church during the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Finally, it circled to its original use and is the church for the university once again.

And just when you think that that's all Salzburg has to offer, think again! Another unique landmark is the Horse Pond (Pferdeschwemme). Also built in the 17th century, this pond was used to wash the parade horses of the prince-archbishops. The frescoes seen in the picture below show the customs that were followed at that time. A notable mention is the fact that in the movie "The Sound of Music," Maria and the Trapp children admire the pond, frescoes, and the statue.

One of the last things I wanted to do before leaving Salzburg was to capture the iconic scene of the river, city, and fortress. I went once during the day, and then once again a bit after the sunset. Although the lighting in the town at night isn't as powerful as it could be, it still provides a gorgeous scene of the city.

Quick Tips:

  • If you plan on seeing a lot of the city's tourist attractions, buy the Salzburg Card. It provides you with free admission to all the attractions (i.e. museums, churches and the fortress), free public transportation, and discounts to additional excursions. The card is available in 24, 48, or 72 hours. You can find more information here.

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