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View to the Hellbrunn Palace Grounds | © Österreich Werbung
My Green Day in Salzburg
The Salzburg Festival, Mozart, “The Sound of Music”. Probably the first things that pop into your head when you begin talking about Salzburg. And let’s face it: When it comes to music and culture, nobody does it better than Salzburg! That said, this city on the Salzach also boasts some really beautiful green spaces, palatial gardens and even its own crop of mountains. They’re a great change of pace and well worth checking out for yourself.
Salzburg enjoys a worldwide reputation as the ultimate festival destination bar none. And rightfully so. But if that’s all you focus on, you might be doing the city a bit of a disservice. Anyone who has spent even a short time in Salzburg knows exactly what we’re talking about. Mother Nature also has her own medley of memorable impressions to add to your Salzburg program. So, please permit us to take you on this short tour as we introduce you to some of the city’s most appealing green spaces.
Escaping to Mirabell Gardens
The many park benches in Mirabell Gardens give us plenty of opportunity to “take the weight off” for a few welcome moments. As our faces bask in the sunshine, our eyes roam across beautifully manicured lawns, flowerbeds laid out with painstaking precision, and rows of stout trees. We fill our lungs with the fresh air, let the picturesque setting work its magic on us, and allow our thoughts to float back in time, to the days when prince-archbishops used to rule over this part of the world. It was under Archbishop Johann Ernst Thun, in the year 1690, that Mirabell Gardens acquired the distinctive geometrical pattern familiar to us today, with the original designers cleverly directing our attention to the cathedral as well as the fortress perched high above the city. This was actually one of the very first baroque gardens ever to open its gates to the general public. Today a listed historical monument, the grounds of Mirabell are now home to a colorful collection of beautifully inspired statues and fountains, along with groups of figures that enchant us with their charm and occasional quirkiness. Mirabell doesn’t only provide us with a welcome escape in the heart of this bustling, vibrant city, it also offers a quite extensive cultural program of its own. In summer, for example, the evening “Fountain Concerts” should be an absolute must on the itinerary of every Salzburg visitor.
The Green Silhouette of the Old City
After our timeout in Mirabell Gardens, we head off in the direction of the Salzach. But just before crossing one of the many bridges that span the river, we allow ourselves to pause. A light breeze is stirred up by the current and caresses our cheeks, as we take in the picturesque sight of the Mönchsberg and Festungsberg, two mountains that rise up from the very heart of the historical district. These oases of intact nature almost sneak up on you, but they definitely do their bit to add to the power and charm of this astonishingly green metropolis. And then there’s the Kapuzinerberg, the final member of the “trio”, frequently nicknamed “the green lung of Salzburg”. Not only does it treat visitors to astonishing views of the city, it’s also a habitat for all kinds of wild animals including foxes, martens, badgers, and even chamois.
Pedaling out to Hellbrunn
We step away from the bright sunshine along the banks of the Salzach, and back into the narrow backstreets of the Old City, making our way along the Judengasse, a dark lane which was once home to a number of small breweries, then across the Waagplatz, site of one of the oldest market places in the city, and finally come to Mozart Square. Here we’ll prepare ourselves for the next leg of our expedition: The first order of business is to stop in at the Genussmanufaktur Grahammer deli and get ourselves a small snack to enjoy a little bit later. Then, we’ll grab the bikes we have just rented basically right next door and cruise back in the direction of the Salzach. In a matter of minutes, we’ll find ourselves pedaling along Hellbrunner Allee – an exquisite, tree-lined avenue, originally built for the exclusive enjoyment and convenience of the prince-archbishops and their distinguished guests, and one of the oldest of its kind you’ll encounter anywhere in the world today. 2.5 kilometers in length, Hellbrunner Allee connects the downtown historical district with Hellbrunn Palace, which is located to the south of the city. More than 500 trees provide us with welcome shade on those balmy days of summertime, as we “breeze” past one storied stately home after another. Our final destination always right there before our eyes.
The green jewel in the south of Salzburg
By the time we get to Hellbrunn, we’ll have earned a bit of a break, roaming the broad grounds in search of the perfect shaded spot for our picnic, be that amid beautiful lawns crafted by generations of gardeners, or in areas that have essentially been left to the devices of Mother Nature herself. Originally built between 1612 and 1615 as a summer residence for Prince-Archbishop Markus Sittikus, now as then, the palace and its grounds are all about relaxation, having fun and enjoying life to the full.
After catching our breath for a while, we’ll begin exploring some more. After all, concealed somewhere out there on the grounds are mystical grottos, the famous Stone Theater, and countless other surprises. And whenever we are in the right frame of mind for a “splash” of pure lighthearted silliness and a “refreshing” change of pace, that will definitely be the perfect moment to head over to the Trick Fountains.
Occupied as the day progresses by more and more small groups of families and friends, musicians and sun worshippers, the banks of the Salzach show us the way back to the town center. Our brains overflowing with so many impressions, we are bound to spend much of the evening mulling over the wonderful memories. As we do, one thing becomes quite apparent: Salzburg is a cultural metropolis, of course. But the city definitely shares the spotlight with Mother Nature, too.