The Austrian city of Salzburg is situatedon the northern edge of the Alps, close to the border of Germany.
Surrounded by lakes and mountains, and straddling the banksof the Salzach River, few cities can matchSalzburg’s fairytale setting.
Few places can match its musical heritage either.
Salzburg is the hometown of one of the giantsof classical music, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Its stately homes, churches and hillsides provided the settings for one of cinema’smost-adored musicals, The Sound Of Music.
And today, its exquisite architecture provides a dramatic backdrop for operatic and classicalperformances all year round.
Just as a glissando provides the transition between two musical notes, the Salzach River glidesbetween Salzburg’s two parts, the old medieval and Baroque city on the left bank, and the new 19th century city on the right.
For the most commanding views of this compactcity and the nearby Alps, take the funicular up to the battlements ofHohensalzburg, one of Europe’s best-preservedmedieval fortresses.
Despite Napoleon plundering the best furnishingsin 1800, the stately chambers still glitter withgold leaf and the cold steel of ancient weaponry.
While the fortress was built to protectSalzburg’s ruling prince bishops, the rulers of the principality spent mostof their days down below, in the heart of the old city.
For centuries these prince bishops conductedthe affairs of Salzburg from the lavish staterooms of the Residenz.
Chandeliers of bohemian glass, venetian mirrors, and lavish ceilings were designed to project powerand prestige to those few deemed worthy of visiting, but today the Residenz is open to all.
Take a short walk across the Residenzplaz, to the towering pink-marbled splendorof Salzburg Cathedral.
Rising from the ruins of the original Celticand Roman settlements, the cathedral’s dome has dominated the skylinefor over four centuries.
It also shelters the very font in which Mozartwas baptized.
Directly behind the cathedral, journey through the city’s 1, 600 year historyat the Salzburg and Panorama Museums.
While many of Salzburg’s antiquities arekept safely behind glass, it’s in the streets of the old town wherethe echoes of the past ring loudest.
Wander along narrow Getreidegasse, one of the loveliest shopping streets in the world.
Lose yourself in its many laneways and passages where centuries of craft and tradition arekept alive, and the hands of time seem forever paused.
You’ll find Salzburg’s most famous addressat number 9 Getreidegasse.
Take the stairs to the third floor, whereon the 27th January, 1756, Mozart was born.
The child prodigy spent seventeen years ofhis life here, composing and performing on his first violinfrom the age of five.
Gaze from the window from which his musicspilled into the streets of Salzburg, and in time, around the entire world.
Salzburg is a symphony for the taste buds too.
Just off the Old Market Square, savor 300 years of coffee-making traditionat Café Tomaselli, once a favorite haunt of Mozart and his wife, Constanze.
For classical Austrian fare served with a side of Opera, take the short walk to Stiftskeller St.
Peter, which has been operating within the wallsand vaults of St.
Peter’s Monastery for 1, 200 years.
According to legend, Columbus is said to haveenjoyed a beer here before sailing to America in 1492.
Over the centuries, Salzburg’s monks and hermitshave practiced the art of brewing with religious zeal.
At the Müllner Bräu Brewery at Augustiner Abby, rinse out a stone pitcher and enjoy a quartergallon of beer poured straight from the wooden barrel.
Then, hang out in Austria’s largest beergarden and enjoy local snacks with beer devotees from all over the world.
After you’ve explored the finer points ofSalzburg hospitality, head across the river to enjoy anotherof the city’s proudest traditions, puppetry, at the Salzburg Marionette Theater.
The theater opened with Mozart’s opera Bastien und Bastienne over one hundred years ago, and today, the company tours internationally, transporting audiences to imaginary realmsfar and wide.
Salzburg has long been a citywhere inspiration knows no bounds, especially when it comes to its palaces.
Just a short stroll from the Marionette Theater, the grandeur of Mirabell Palace and Gardensawaits.
Commissioned in 1606 by Prince-Archbishop, Wolf Dietrich von Raitenauto impress his beloved mistress, the palace was completedwithin a staggering six months.
The Italian inspired palace, rose gardensand statue of Pegasus obviously worked their magic, as the pair went on to have 15 children.
Years later, the Prince-Archbishop was deposed, spending the rest of his lonely days internedin the dungeons of Hohensalzburg, overlooking his beloved palace.
Wolf Dietrich’s successor, Mark Sittich von Hohenems, was given more to practical jokesthan matters of the heart.
The new Prince-Archbishop createdHellbrunn Palace on Salzburg’s southern outskirts.
This Renaissance-inspired palace was builtover a natural spring, which fed hidden water features designed tosoak his unsuspecting guests.
The grounds are dotted with curiosities, grottosand water-driven automations, as marvelous today as when the trickster princeled his soaked guests across the grounds 400 years ago.
Built as a summer daytime playhouse, the palace contains not a single bedroom.
While Salzburg abounds with fountains, some of the cities most impressive water featuresare its surrounding lakes and waterfalls.
Stretching east from the city is theSalzkammergut resort region, home to stunning glacial lakesand picturesque villages.
A twenty-minute drive from Salzburg isthe lakeside town Mondsee.
The town’s basilica starred in the weddingscene in The Sound Of Music, and is one of the most photographed churchesin the world.
Just to the south of Lake Mondsee, are the clear waters of Lake Wolfgang.
Stay a few nights in the sleepy village ofStrobl, and let yourself be serenaded by nature’sever-shifting rhythms and moods.
A two-hour drive southwest from Salzburg, nature’s tempo intensifies, at Krimml Waterfalls.
Here, the thundering glacial falls beat ina continuous crescendo throughout the valley, while its drifting mists create the perfectwonderland for mosses, ferns and lichens.
For a waterfall with a difference visit thespa town of Bad Gastein, whose falls roar straight through the heart of town, plunging past historic hotelsand into the valley floor below.
After losing yourself in the mesmerizing spectacleof Bad Gastein Falls, turn your attention skyward.
From the town, take the cable car over dreamy alpine meadowsto the summit of Stubnerkogel Mountain, and hear the wind singing through the cablesof one of Europe’s highest suspension bridges.
The Salzburg region is full of surprises, so before heading back to the city, head underground, into the Hallein Salt Mine.
Take the 70-minute tour deep into this7, 000 year old mine, whose rich deposits of white gold once gave Salzburga starring role on the worlds trading stage.
From its salt mines to its symphonies, from its fountains to its waterfalls, Salzburg plays out like a living opera, filled with drama, comedy, intrigue and passion.
And it all awaits, in a setting perfectlycrafted by the human hand, and by the greatest composer of them all, Mother Nature.
Salzburg is more than just a city, it is a triumph!.