The Artful Traveler: Part 2 – Salzburg, Austria

On October 6th, my husband and I hopped a plane from Berlin to Salzburg, Austria, the next stop on our 2018 trip. Michael had reserved four days in this charming little city located on the banks of the Salzach river. I knew almost nothing about Salzburg other than it was the birthplace of Mozart and the film location for “The Sound of Music”.


Upon arrival I immediately fell in love with this quaint and picturesque city! Shop windows displayed traditional Tyrolean dress, cuckoo clocks keeping time, intricately decorated beer steins and the green felt hats worn by Alpine men. Cozy restaurants were decorated in knotty pine paneling with beautiful hand-carved wooden chairs. Frosty mugs of beer, steaming plates of sausages and delectable apple streusel shared menus with more “neuvo” continental creations.

We only had four days here so it was a necessity to decide how our time would be spent and what sites were important to see. In every city, we always look for history, culture, art and churches. Salzburg is a walkable city and it’s easy to navigate the cobblestone streets, although as we soon found out – some sites took a little ingenuity to find.

Photo Credit: Museum der Moderne Mönchsberg

On our first day we planned to visit the Museum der Moderne Mönchsberg, a modern art museum opened in 2004 built high above the city on a clifftop. After a few attempts on our phone GPS, we finally located the museum lift that took us up the mountain. It was a beautiful marble and glass building housing three stories of exhibitions. I found much of the work very moving, with several exhibitions focused on artists who produced work during and about World War II. The top floor was dedicated to a retrospective for Italian artist Marisa Merz. I’m always excited to come upon work by a woman artist, especially one that I am unfamiliar with. (Sadly, I have found in my travels that many museums lack equal representation of female artists.) Creating in a wide range of materials, Marisa’s work played with the concept of sculpture and shapes. I was particularly intrigued by her “knitted” pieces that combined whimsy with non-traditional materials; they were complex, delicate and evocative. Read more about this exhibit: Marisa Merz: The Sky is a Great Space.  And here is the link for: Museum der Moderne Mönchsberg.

Hohensalzburg Fortress

With a light drizzle falling, we left the museum, umbrellas in hand and wandered through the wooded path along the ridge top to arrive at the imposing medieval Hohensalzburg Fortress. Built in 1077, it offers panoramic views of the city far below, and is a step back in time to another era. Read the history of Hohensalzburg Fortress here.

Mirabell Gardens

The following two days we dedicated to tracking down locations mentioned or pictured in “The Sound of Music”. If you are a fan of the movie, you’ll remember the original story of Maria and the Von Trapp family took place in Salzburg. Although the film is somewhat fictionalized, it does embody the spirit of the real-life Maria.

Church at the Nonnberg Abbey where the real-life Maria was married.

Filmed in and around Salzburg, it was great fun searching out the original sites immortalized in the movie. We climbed the steep stairs to reach the Benedictine Nonnberg Abbey (the oldest continuously existing convent in the world dating back to the year 715). The original Maria was a novice at Nonnberg and she was married in the abbey church. It is a rather simple, dark church, nothing like the grand cathedral pictured in the movie. We also walked through the beautiful Mirabell Gardens, the backdrop for “Do Re Mi” and photographed the Pegasus Fountain from the same musical number where the children danced along the edge. Tourists who visit Salzburg often book a “Sound of Music Tour” that buses you around to each location in the film. We found it much more fun exploring on foot and discovering the sites for ourselves.

Modern art installation of Sphaera in Kapitelplatz square

Also during our short visit, we toured the magnificent baroque Salzburg Cathedral; contemplated the modern art installation “Sphaera”, a huge gold ball installed in Kapitelplatz; climbed the steep and dark stairs into St. Peter’s Catacombs; hiked Kapuzinerberg hill to the Capuchin Monastery; and found the birthplace of Mozart.

View of Salzburg from the river with the Hohensalzburg Fortress pictured high on the hill

Each day we made time for a stroll along the tranquil river promenade and indulged in a frothy cappuccino at a local cafe. With many hidden gems, we found Salzburg to be a lovely cultural delight!

Next stop on our 2018 adventure: Bolzano, Italy!

And for those who missed my first blog post about this trip:
The Artful Traveler: Part 1 – London and Berlin