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City feeling

Setting out in search of modern Salzburg …

It’s a familiar picture: Salzburg, the city of church towers, a cultural hotspot, a mecca of the classics. Of course, there has to be so much more that’s just waiting to be discovered, but somehow, it seems almost inevitable that we will be drawn back to the Baroque and picture-book photo motifs. But I wasn’t quite willing to accept that – so I headed out, smartphone in hand, to see if I could find a different side to the city.

Step One: Googling.

Sherlock Holmes had his magnifying glass and Miss Marple had her sharp mind. Today, we have Google. So, I key in “modern Salzburg” – with most of the results on the first few pages homing in on the Museum der Moderne, which is Salzburg’s museum of modern art. So, I decide to go with the Google flow and begin my explorations on top of the Mönchsberg. Not many people know that the concrete facade of this art museum is actually an obscure hommage to Mozart: Slots in the outer cladding are a sophisticated reference to arias from his opera “Don Giovanni”. As you would expect, the museum contains an exhibition of contemporary art. Though I don’t spend too much time on the inside. To be quite honest, I find the outside even more intriguing – not least because there’s a steel cone right in front that provides an excellent photo op. It’s known as the “Sleeping House” and, aptly enough, laid down and basically put to bed every night. Next to it, you’ll find a tower that you are invited to step inside of. A red sign tells us this is the “Sky Tower”. And that’s when I first become aware of something known as the “Walk of Modern Art”. Once again, I go ahead and ask Google, and discover that another artwork is waiting for me just a few steps away from the museum. And, oh my, it is really quite beautiful: It goes by the name “Numbers in the Forest” and has a very powerful, almost mystical impact on me.

Step Two: Where’s the art?

This “Walk of Modern Art” has piqued my curiosity. As it turns out, every year an international artist was invited to select a place to create a permanent installation. I read about 13 artworks in total, made by the likes of Marina Abramovic, Anselm Kiefer and Erwin Wurm. Which automatically gives me the keywords for my next foray into the Google universe: “art in public spaces”. First up, the Internet spits out a list of artworks that have nothing at all to do with my particular “Walk of Modern Art”, though I have to say, they are still worth browsing through. For someone who was initially very skeptical that they would ever escape from this city’s maze of church towers and classical themes, my pulse has suddenly begun racing quite a bit faster. In fact, I’m almost electrified.

Step Three: Soaking it all in.

On the city tourist office’s website, I come across a city walk that is dedicated to the theme of “Creative Salzburg”. That’s when I become aware that, as you roam Salzburg, you will encounter what can only be described as” art clusters”. And so, since the weather is nice, I decide to explore the cluster of art pieces inside Mirabell Gardens. Mirabell is famous for its dwarfs, its connection to “The Sound of Music” and as a beautiful photo motif with the historic district of the city as a backdrop. But on this particular expedition of mine, I focus on the many smaller highlights that might otherwise not have caught my attention: for example, “The Dancer” on the Rose Hill, the Museum Pavilion and the “Trio Making Music”. I quietly sit down on a bench, enjoying the view of the city and the sunshine tickling my nose, and catch myself reading up on all the different artworks. Who would’ve thought that so many modern pieces would be hidden away in this Baroque garden, in this Baroque city?

Step Four: Continue.

In addition to the clusters I just mentioned, the city walk also gave me a number of insider tips that are now at the top of my must-see list. That includes Hangar-7 as well as Café Cult in the Künstlerhaus (a favorite hangout of a girlfriend of mine). Pictures of the sculpture park at Schloss Arenberg have also whet my appetite for more. I couldn’t be more thrilled to have discovered so many under-the-radar places. Along with a whole new side to Salzburg’s personality.