Salzburg, Austria. Steeped in music.

Salzburg: Beyond the Sound of Music

Although the movie is world-famous, most people in Austria have no idea what Julie Andrews loves. In fact, according to the guide, the film didn’t premiere on national television until 2002.

Salzburg: Beyond the Sound of Music

Salzburg’s Christmas Museum and the Salzburg Museum on Residenzplatz (BeautifulBlossoms/Shutterstock)

Salzburg: Beyond the Sound of Music

Fürst’s Café-Confectionery. (Copyright Wibke Carter)

Salzburg: Beyond the Sound of Music

Krapfen with pine liqueur. (Copyright Wibke Carter)

Salzburg: Beyond the Sound of Music

A beautiful view of Residenzplatz and the Residenzbrunnen fountain in the historic Austrian city of Salzburg. (trabantos/Shutterstock)

On the one hand, Austrians are amused by cinematic curiosities of cultural aspects, such as “schnitzel and noodles” when the traditional side dish is potatoes; on the other hand, just 20 years after the war, memories of the Nazi period were still relatively fresh, and a 1965 film does not smooth out the tension that preceded that time.

Salzburg: Beyond the Sound of Music

A view of the ceiling of Salzburg Cathedral. (Copyright Wibke Carter)

“Salzburgers prefer to think of their city as Mozart’s city,” said our guide.

Salzburg: Beyond the Sound of Music

Elderly ladies sing in a soot-covered smoky kitchen. (Copyright Wibke Carter)

Salzburg: Beyond the Sound of Music

Mirabel Gardens in summer, Salzburg, Austria. (mRGB/Shutterstock)

Mozart is everywhere.

That the city is the birthplace of one of the world’s greatest composers is evident everywhere. There’s a statue of Mozart in the Old Town, an annual Mozart Week, and, of course, the Mozartkugel.

Although gold chocolate balls are exported all over the world, the original balls are actually wrapped in silver foil and can be bought where Paul Fürst invented them in 1890 – at the Fürst Confectionery Café.

Salzburg: Beyond the Sound of Music

The entrance to Eisrizenvelt. (Copyright Wibke Carter)

Johann Chrysostom Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, now known as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, was born on January 27, 1756, at 9 Götreidegasse. The apartment on the third floor belonged to the middle class with four rooms and a kitchen.

Mozart himself spent a considerable amount of time away from home, as his father Leopold took his son with him to demonstrate his musical talent at the most important European courts.

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The longest journey took three years, five months and 20 days. Today the house where Mozart was born, with its distinctive yellow facade, is a museum.

Salzburg: Beyond the Sound of Music

Falconer with a bird of prey in Hohenwerfen. (Salzburg Burgen).

Salzburg: Beyond the Sound of Music

Falconer with a bird of prey in the fortress of Hohenwerfen. (Salzburg Burgen)

Salzburg: Beyond the Sound of Music

Hohenwerfen castle. (Salzburg Burgen)

Old Town

Salzburg’s Old Town, located at the foot of the steep hills, looks just as it did 250 years ago when Mozart lived here. The spires of the 27 churches, the fast-flowing Salzach river and the snow-capped mountains are best admired from the towering Hohensalzburg, one of the largest fortresses in Europe.

Salzburg: Beyond the Sound of Music

Christmas market in Salzburg’s old town. (Izabela23/Shutterstock)

Salzburg: Beyond the Sound of Music

Grossarltal Valley. (Grossarltal Tourism).

Salzburg: Beyond the Sound of Music

The path that leads to Lichtensteinklamm. (Copyright Wibke Carter)

It’s tempting to spend half a day here, as the Puppet Museum is popular with visitors, but without stopping, we walked down the steep steps back into town and ended up next to the cemetery of St. Peter’s Monastery.

Local doctors, lawyers, and nobles are buried here, as well as the composer Michael Haydn, Mozart’s sister “Nannerl” (her family name), and the famous confectioner Paul Fürst.

The cemetery also contains catacombs – cave chapels and crypts carved into the Mönchsberg rock – and the oldest tomb dates back to 833.

Salzburg: Beyond the Sound of Music

Hermann Prommegger carves a mask. (Copyright Wibke Carter)

Salzburg: Beyond the Sound of Music

Hohensalzburg Fortress on the hill. (canadastock/Shutterstock)

We strolled down the romantic Goldgasse with its many jewelry and craft stores, passed the river, and finally found ourselves in the Mirabel Gardens. Flowerbeds, rose gardens, and deciduous arbors caught our eye. The adjoining Dwarf Garden, founded around 1695, is the oldest in Europe.

Salzburg: Beyond the Sound of Music

Travelers stop for lunch in an alpine hut. (Grossarltal Tourism)

Hohenwerfen Fortress.

Leaving Salzburg late in the morning, we made it to our next stop, Hohenwerfen Fortress, just in time for the start of the daily show of birds of prey.

“Better get everything bright,” employee Birgit Meixner told me. – Birds are notorious for taking children’s toys and throwing them behind the castle walls.”

Since 1077, the castle has stood on a steep peak, high above the Salzach valley. During its turbulent history, it was besieged, looted, burned and almost destroyed in the 16th century by farmers and peasants.

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The fortress served primarily as a prison for Protestants in the 17th and 18th centuries, then fell into disrepair during the reign of Bavaria and then the Nazis, who used the fortress as a military training camp.

And then came Hollywood. In 1968, Hohenwerfen was used as the setting for the World War II film “Where Eagles Nest” (1968) starring Clint Eastwood and Richard Burton.

Salzburg: Beyond the Sound of Music

Chemira Castle. (Eisriesenwelt)

Ice Cave

Low temperatures in the mountains sustain life in the nearby Eisriesenwelt, the world’s largest ice cave. Armed with warm clothes and old-fashioned oil lamps, we explored this “world of ice giants,” the literal translation of the name.

It took good physical preparation as we had to climb and descend 700 steps. One particularly steep section at a 45 degree angle was nicknamed “Seufzertreppe” (“moaning stairs”) by the staff, our guide told us.

Salzburg: Beyond the Sound of Music

Mirabel Gardens, an important location for the filming of “The Sound of Music.” (Copyright Wibke Carter)

For an hour, we explored the incredibly beautiful shimmering blue-green ice formations that dangled from the ceiling or rose from the ground. There were frozen waterfalls and ice palaces. The largest landmark, called “Chimira Castle,” has grown in 100 years because of a crack in the cave above, and the cave itself has expanded by a third since tours began in 1920.

Salzburg: Beyond the Sound of Music

Mirabel Gardens, where the movie “The Sound of Music” was partly filmed, with Hohensalzburg Fortress as a backdrop. (SalzburgerLand Tourism).

Valley of the Alpine huts

After spending the day at high altitudes, we stopped for the night in the Grossarltal Valley, also known as the “Valley of the Alpine Huts.” Here people have lived and worked for generations, producing high-quality products before “craftsmanship” became fashionable.

About 40 huts in the valley are open from mid-June to mid-September.

Whole families move to the high mountain pastures for the season, caring for the animals and processing the milk. They also feed hungry tourists.

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Salzburg: Beyond the Sound of Music

Mozart’s presence is felt throughout Salzburg. (Copyright Wibke Carter)

In many alpine huts there is still no electricity and homemade delicacies are cooked according to old recipes.

Salzburg: Beyond the Sound of Music

Old oil lamps in the Eisrizenvelt. (Copyright Wibke Carter)

We stopped by a place called the 16th-century Kösslerhausl – part museum, part restaurant, part store – and sampled krapfen, a sweet pastry, and then a delicious pine liqueur.

While we sat in a tiny “rauchkuhla” (smoke kitchen) under a low, soot-covered ceiling, two elderly women sang religious songs in the local dialect. It felt special, something sacred, as if we were transported back in time.

Salzburg: Beyond the Sound of Music

A room in a 16th century Kösslerhaus. (Copyright Wibke Carter)

Through our acquaintance with mask carver Hermann Prommegger, we learned the legend of Krampus, the monster-half goat-half demon who punishes children for misbehaving at Christmas.

According to local folklore, the monster appears in towns on the night of December 5, known as Krampus Night, and on that night groups of Krampus walk through the Grossarl Valley, knocking on doors and checking on children’s behavior.

Salzburg: Beyond the Sound of Music

Salzburg Cathedral. (SalzburgerLand Tourism).

“The style is changing somewhat,” Prommegger said. – “A few years ago, customers ordered masks that reminded them of characters from popular movies, such as ‘Star Wars: The Hidden Menace.’ Now we’re going back to a more traditional way of carving.”

Salzburg: Beyond the Sound of Music

Puppets from the movie “The Sound of Music” at the Puppet Museum. (Copyright Wibke Carter)

We ended our trip through the Salzburg region with a hike through the Lichtensteinklamm, one of the deepest and longest gorges in the Alps. Roaring waterfalls and powerful streams of water have been making their way deeper and deeper into the gorge for centuries, creating a wonderful sound like music.

Wiebke Carter is a travel writer originally from Germany. She has lived in New Zealand and New York and currently enjoys life in London. Her website is WibkeCarter.com.

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