The Sound of Salzburg: Mozart and Maria von Trapp’s Hometown is a Majestic Travel Destination
July 19, 2017
When stepping onto the cobble stone streets of Salzburg in Austria, the heart begins to sing. It is no surprise that one feels giddy with music and romance in the city that gave us Mozart and Maria von Trapp. It is the middle of the winter, although the friendly Austrian people remain warm and kind. They sit outdoor, enjoying the low temperature, drinking coffee and eating mustard covered bosna while humming that famous Rogers and Hammerstein show tune that made their city famous.
The Home of Austria’s Favorite Son
The Austrian city of Salzburg is the fourth largest city in the country. Its Alstadt (Old Town) has garnered a good reputation amongst travellers for its rich culture and well-maintained baroque architecture. Salzburg was the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the great composer who wrote over 600 pieces and performed for royalty as early as the age of sixteen. Known as Austria’s Favorite Son, the impact of Mozart in popular culture is well regarded worldwide. It even inspired the 1984 Oscar winning Best Picture film entitled Amadeus, which chronicles the riff between Mozart and his peer, composer Antonio Salieri.
Located at No. 9, Getreidegasse is Mozart’s birthplace. The apartment building stands tall and is painted in a mustard yellow. Well maintained and continuously restored, the spot is of historical importance and is one of the most visited places in all of Austria. It is possible to enter and tour the original rooms where the Mozart family lived for 26 years (between 1747 to 1773). History buffs can walk through the halls and bask in all things related to the musical genius. Stored inside are fascinating memorabilia that includes historical instruments like his childhood violin and clavichord. There are also personal portraits, documents and letters that paint a very vivid picture of his everyday life in and around Salzburg.
Salzburg’s musical history does not stop at the classical era. Years later, during the Second World War, the popularity of the Von Trap family was rising due to their fascinating story which led to them becoming traveling folk singers. The story is not unfamiliar to those who are well versed with pop culture.
Similar to what is portrayed in the 1965 movie musical The Sound of Music starring Julie Andrews, the Von Trapp’s escaped the Nazi occupation by escaping to Switzerland. It tells the story of a nun named Maria, who is assigned by her Mother Superior be governess to the children of Captain Van Trapp. After a series of misunderstandings, Maria and the Captain begin to fall in love. Maria’s affinity for music leads her to teach the kids how to perform, hence the creation of the Von Trapp Family singers. When the World War II breaks, the captain is assigned a position in the Nazi army. Not believing in their cause, he and Maria gather their family and cross the Swiss border to safety, living out the rest of the war as traveling performers.
Although the film is a slightly more romanticized version of the story, it was immediately embraced by the world, becoming one of the most popular motions pictures of the century. Salzburg followed and embraced the film that was completely shot in their city. The classic songs by Rogers and Hammerstein such as the main theme, Edelweiss, Sixteen Going on Seventeen, How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria, Do-Re-Mi, and Climb Every Mountain are now closely associated to Salzburg.
The Sound of Music has given back to Salzburg in big ways. The film brings roughly 300,000 tourists to the city every year, creating good business for local stores year round. Many residents of the city have personal businesses because of the film, acting as tour guides and bringing travelers to popular shooting locations. Activities related to the film include dinner shows, park performances, and even food-inspired by the motion picture. It is a large selling point in Salzburg, and earns the city a large portion of its yearly income.
White Wine Spritzers, Chocolate Pretzels and Bosna Any Time of Day
During long walks on the narrow streets of the town proper, it is suggested to explore Salzburg’s culinary treasures. Because of its close proximately to Germany, much of Austrian food has found its influence in its neighboring country. The usual daily fare is sausages and schnitzel, which is any breaded meat. Side dishes usually comprise of sauerkraut or mashed potatoes. Following a hearty meal, apple straddle with extra whipped cream is recommended.
However, the star of Austrian cuisine is really found in the hidden corridors between the buildings. A favorite would be bosna, a street food comprised of a spicy bratwurst sausage covered in onions, curry powder, and a blend of ketchup and mustard, sandwiched between toasted white bread. Although simple in nature, Salzburg locals seem to have perfected the dish. It is difficult to find a sausage meal like this anywhere else in the region. It is suggested to eat more than one. Do not be afraid to get your gloves dirty.
For those who love sweets, kiosks near the iconic cathedrals carry fresh fruits and oversized, chocolate-covered pretzels to snack on. When tired, seek refuge in one of the many charming cafes that line the tiny roads. It is a treat to sit in the cold with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate while simply people watching or taking in the ambiance of the antique city. Early happy hour is always a good idea when ordering a white wine spritzer at any time of the day.
Bells Are Ringing
Salzburg is a walker’s city. It is easy to leave the hotel and simply get lost in its winding streets. The friendly people who hum to the tunes of The Sound of Music are approachable and easy to get along with. It is a wonder to get lost in the majesty of the city. Days should always end when the bells at Salzburg Cathedral begin to ring. Take a short walk up the hill and enter the seventeenth century structure, look up at the alter, observe the carved ceiling frescos and say, “thank you God for bringing me here.”
Text and photography by Chino R. Hernandez
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