Salzburg, a city of festivals and art

Salzburg, a city of festivals and art
Edited by Travel Weekly

    Travel Weekly’s Marian McGuinness has taken on Salzburg to explore its skyline of alpine peaks, spires, domes and a looming medieval fortress that make it so picturesque. Read on below about the city with the tagline Stage of the World.

    The original narrow-laned medieval town was built on the wealth of the salt trade. Its name literally means Salt-Castle. Prince-Archbishop Wolf-Dietrich, who wielded both religious and political power in the 1600s, razed much of the town and rebuilt it in his favoured Italian style. It became known as the Rome of the North, in all its baroque beauty.

    With the birth of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in January 1756, the pace was set for Salzburg’s artistic evolution.

    As a point of connection to the inception of the city, I am staying at Hotel Wolf-Dietrich conveniently close to the historic centre.

    This petite UNESCO city that straddles the Salzach River is a cobble-streeted art walk from the ornate, wrought-iron guild signs overhanging shops to its squares, markets, museums and sculptured, Mirabell gardens.

    Salzburg’s cultural year begins at the end of January with the internationally-celebrated Mozart Week. 2024 will feature Mozart’s contemporary, Antonio Salieri, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the film, Amadeus.

    Mozart is everywhere in Salzburg

    Included in Salzburg’s 4,500 cultural events each year, the Whitsun, Easter and Summer Festivals are celebrations of opera, theatre and concerts. The Christmas markets from the 23rd of November to the 1st of January complete the cultural year.

    Complementing the baroque heart of Salzburg is the Walk of Modern Art where 13 international artists created installations interpreting aspects of the city’s identity.

    Opposite Mozart’s family home is ‘Caldera’, a large, patinated, bronze sculpture that portrays the meeting of two faces. Its creator conceived it as a ‘mental landscape’ which you can walk within.

    Beside the river is the ‘Spirit of Mozart’, a collection of stainless-steel chairs where you can sit and look up to a long-legged chair towering 15 meters above. It’s as if Mozart still reigns over the city, untouchable, but always present.

    Exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art, The LIght of Love, by Bu Hua

    Crossing the Staatsbrücke (State Bridge) into the old town the bridge’s four pillars are faced with semi-transparent mirrors. Called ‘Beyond Recall’ the artist wants you to see yourself, but what you will not see are the hundreds of World War 2 POWs forced to construct the bridge.

    ‘Awilda’ sits in a university courtyard. It is a monumental bust of a young girl made from twenty layers of Spanish marble. The artist wanted Awilda to be in the middle of young people.

    And then, among other baroque and medieval university buildings are a whimsical line of giant gherkins looking like they’re walking along the path.

    Standing nine-metres high, outside the Salzburg cathedral on the Kapitelplatz, is ‘Sphaera’, a giant golden ball with a man standing on top. Some see it as a nod to Salzburg’s famous chocolate, the Mozartkugel, the marzipan, nougat, pistachio and dark chocolate ball wrapped in gold. That’s the beauty of the Walk of Modern Art; it’s your interpretation.

    Whimsical gherkins by Erwin Wurm

    Take the lift to the clifftop of Mönchsberg, stop for Austrian cuisine with a modern twist at the panoramic m32 restaurant before spending quiet time perusing the adjacent Museum of Modern Art.

    For something cinematic, sashay and sing along on a day tour of the 1960’s blockbuster, The Sound of Music, showcasing the real-life landmarks of the von Trapp family.

    With medieval, baroque and contemporary offerings in a vibrant atmosphere, Salzburg is your go-to city.

    Featured Image: Salzburg skyline with Fortress Hohenslazburg (Author’s image)

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