Salzburg any time

Actually, there doesn’t seem to be a bad time to go to Salzburg.

‘THE PLACE has so much going for it, even if you don’t catch the glorious display of red, yellow, green and brown leaves, and practically every hue between, under blue skies and a gently warming autumnal sun' (photo credit: Courtesy)
‘THE PLACE has so much going for it, even if you don’t catch the glorious display of red, yellow, green and brown leaves, and practically every hue between, under blue skies and a gently warming autumnal sun'
(photo credit: Courtesy)
If Robert Browning would just excuse my seasonal and geographic shift, “Oh to be in Salzburg now that fall is here” would suit to describe my recent visit to the picturesque town in the southwest of Austria.
Actually, there doesn’t seem to be a bad time to go to Salzburg. The place has so much going for it, even if you don’t catch the glorious display of red, yellow, green and brown leaves, and practically every hue between, under blue skies and a gently warming autumnal sun.
The town simply reeks of history. Anywhere you turn you are likely to run into a baroque style building, say in the Aldtstadt (Old Town) area to the south of the Salzach River, a church spire towering over the largely quaint urbanscape, or a fortress or two lurking patiently behind centuries-old walls, with buttresses, turrets and the whole defensive caboodle.
One of the latter, you simply can’t – and shouldn’t – miss, is the imposing Hohensalzburg Fortress. As you approach the environs of the river, from the newer part of town to the north, the enormous millennium old edifice looms into view. It sits atop the cliffs for which Salzburg is famous, and ruled the roost from its strategic aerie from 1077, when it was built by the powerful Archbishop Gebhard von Helfenstein, through to 1800, when it succumbed to French troops led by General Jean Victor Marie Moreau during the Napoleonic War of the Second Coalition. The current site was refurbished in the late 19th century and became a tourist attraction. Its consumer friendliness profile received a substantial boost with the opening of the Festungsbahn funicular railway in 1892. Today, it is one of the best preserved castles in Europe.
After a good workout on the way up to the fortress you can gently sidle your way back down to the aforementioned Altstadt, Salzburg’s historic center, renowned for its Baroque architecture: 17th century buildings, in full robust health and daily use as stores, residences, eateries and arts venues. The place was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996, and it is not hard to see why.
If you thought Israel was replete with festivals, Salzburg appears to be in another league entirely in that department. Martina Trummer, from Tourismus Salzburg which oversees local tourism-oriented activities, informed me that the town of 150,000 inhabitants hosts a full 4,500 cultural events a year. Take, for example, Mozart Week which has marked the composer’s birthday (January 27, 1756), annually in late January-early February since 1956. Next year’s program runs January 23-February 2 with Mozarteum Foundation Salzburg bringing in classical music A-listers from all over the world for a Mozart-based concert series.
There is more, much more, in the way of top-notch classical musical fare at the Osterfestspiele Salzburg – Salzburg Easter Festival – which was founded by fêted Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan in 1967. Naturally, when summer comes around, the Easter event’s big brother, the Salzburg Festival, draws thousands of people from all over the world. It has been called “the world’s most important celebration of opera, music and theater,” and with good reason.
Next year’s centenary program has just been announced, with a slew of glittering productions lined up July 19-August 30. As each year, Lederman Day, on August 22, provides one of the highlights of the whole festival, when novelist, librettist, poet, dramatist, narrator, and essayist Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s play, Lederman, is performed, 100 years to the day since its premiere.
There is more in the way of classical concerts, around the year, over at 17th century Salzburg Palace, aka Mirabel Palace, which is touted as the place “where Mozart used to play his timeless pieces.” And the grounds are worth a stroll, too, with their manicured lawns, fountains, sculptures and arboreal splendor.
There are quality non-classical sounds to be had in town as well, principally courtesy of the Jazz and The City Festival which I attended a few weeks ago. This year’s five-day bash was the 20th edition of the festival, which offered a broad range of 100 free gigs in total at a wide spectrum of venues, from baroque churches, to diminutive theaters, stores, museums and bona fide concert halls.
And, while we’re on the subject of museums, Salzburg boasts an abundance of them. If you want to get an initial handle on local history, particularly of the Baroque period, a guided tour of the DomQuartier would be a good idea. The circuit takes in the State Rooms of the Residenz – former seat of power of those yesteryear princes and archbishops – an impressive display of European painting at the Residenz Gallery, the Cathedral Organ Loft and Cathedral Museum, with its art treasures dating back to the 8th century.
There are also a couple of museums of contemporary art. I caught celebrated Israeli contemporary artist Sigalit Landau’s excellent Salt Years exhibition, featuring some of her videos while I was there. And you can’t really visit Salzburg without popping into the Mozarts Geburtshaus, where Wolfgang Amadeus was born. And, if you’ve still got some time on your hands you might want to pop along to the Sound of Music World, which tells the tale of the von Trapp family, the Museum of Nature and Technology or the Toy Museum. A cruise down the Salzach River offers new perspectives on the town and its environs, and a walk or cycle along the tree-lined river banks will expand your lungs, eyes and heart in equal measure.
Purchasing a Salzburg Card is a good deal, offering one-time free entry to all local museums and attractions, free travel on public transport, and discounts on cultural events, trips, tours and excursions.
For more information: www.salzburg.info


Tags vacation fall