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Mirabell Palace and Gardens
Mirabell Palace and Gardens
Built by prince-archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau in 1606 as a token of his love for Salome Alt. Originally known as Schloss Altenau, it would subsequently be renamed “Mirabell” by Markus Sitticus.
Mirabell is a female name form Italy, a compound of the words mirabile ‘admirable‘ and bella ‘beautiful‘. And Schloss Mirabell, with its glorious gardens, has clearly earned that name beyond a shadow of a doubt.
In 1854, Emperor Franz Joseph made Mirabell Gardens open to the public for the very first time. To this very day, it remains a gem of garden architecture and a popular photo motif.
Schloss Mirabell – a unique jewel
Prince-archbishop Franz Anton Fürst von Harrach commissioned extensive remodeling of Schloss Mirabell by famous baroque architect Lukas von Hildebrandt between 1721 and 1727, turning it into s single harmonious ensemble.
The big city fire on 30 April 1818 caused severe damage to the palace, though the Marble Hall and Marble Staircase remained undamaged. The stairway created by Lukas von Hildebrandt, with its graceful angel figures, is one of the greatest treasures of Schloss Mirabell. The sculptures in the niches are masterpieces by renowned Georg Raphael Donner. Peter de Nobile gave Schloss Mirabell much of the appearance we recognize today.
Schloss Mirabell today
Today’s Schloss Mirabell houses the official offices of the mayor of Salzburg as well as those of the city government.
The Marble Hall, a former banquet hall of the prince archbishops, now serves as one of the "world’s most beautiful wedding halls". Here, Leopold Mozart and his children Wolfgang and Nannerl once performed music. Today, it provides a regular venue in an evocative atmosphere for weddings, award ceremonies and concerts (Salzburger Schlosskonzerte).
Mirabell Gardens – baroque pleasure garden in the heart of the city
Mirabell Gardens was completely redesigned under archbishop Johann Ernst von Thun in 1690. The underlying geometrical form, which is so typical of the Baroque, can still be easily recognized. The visual orientation towards the cathedral and fortress adds to the grandeur of the gardens – simultaneously incorporating them into the overall historical ensemble of the city.
True to the form of an early-baroque garden, we find rich floral ornamentation, precisely trimmed trees, decorative urns and balustrades. Subsequent redesigns contributed the variety provided by late-baroque forms to the original coherence of the grounds.
Additions included separate new garden areas with latticed walkways flanked by linden and beech trees, a hedge theater and the Bastion Garden. Fountains and vibrant stone figures further enrich the beauty of the garden.
Mirabell Gardens in Detail:
- The Pegasus Fountain featuring a sculpture of the horse, Pegasus, is a work by Kaspar Gras from Innsbruck and was installed in 1913.
- Located around the Grand Fountain (the fountain pool) are four groups of figures by Ottavio Mosto (1690). They symbolize the 4 elements: fire, air, earth and water.
- The Hedge Theater can be found in the western section of Mirabell Gardens. It is one of the oldest hedge theaters north of the Alps. During the summertime, it serves as the venue for folk-heritage events and other special occasions.
- The Dwarf Garden originated during the rule of archbishop Franz Anton Fürst Harrach. It originally consisted of 28 dwarves made from white Untersberger marble and is the oldest of its kind in Europe.
- The Rose Garden with its ornamental rose beds is located directly south of Schloss Mirabell.
- The Orangery functions today as a palm house.
Opening hours 2016:
Marble Hall: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday 8 am-4 pm, Tuesday, Friday: 1-4 pm. No visit in case of special occasions.
Angel Staircase: daily from 8 am-6 pm.
The other rooms house the municipal council and therefore not open to the public.
Mirabell Gardens: daily from approx. 6 am to dusk.
Hedge Theater: closed during the winter months.
Orangerie: open all year round, daily 9 am-4 pm.
Dwarf Garden: closed during winter months.
(as of Nov. 2015)
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