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April 25th 2019

A lot of Mozart and beautiful panoramas, but also a chamois!

Yesterday, Wednesday April 24th, I arrived around half past two after a rather uneventful journey in Munich. There I had to look for my connecting train to Salzburg: due to some delay I was really running late and, because of ongoing construction works to the platforms of the main station, I had to squeeze through the crowds, carrying my (still quite heavy…) rucksack in a totally foreign railway station. Slightly out of breath I plumbed down in the slow train to Salzburg, leaving five minutes to three. It was a slow trip through a gently rolling, green landscape with to the south views on the Bavarian Alps, along a. o. the well-known Chiemsee Lake. Furthermore I recognised on the map many names of places through which and of mountain tops by which stages of the Red Trail of the Via Alpina are running. That will be something for a next time, because now I’m actually heading to Trieste, Northern-Italy, but I’ll be staying in Salzburg for a few days!


Near the Chiesee Lake (Upper Bavaria) with view on the Alps

At a quarter to five the train drew into Salzburg. From the railway station it took me approximately 10 minutes by foot to my Hotel Stadtkrug, which by its own account has already been known as an inn since 1353. It is situated in one of the oldest streets in the pedestrian zone on the north bank of the river Salzach. Above this Linzergasse an almost vertical rock wall rises up, the Kapuzinerberg, the Capuchin hill, named after the Capuchin Monastery situated on its top. On internet the hotel had given the impression to be cosy, and in reality it was! However again I had to hurry a bit, because I had made a reservation for a “Mozart Dinner concert” in the old city centre on the south bank. When I crossed the “Staatsbrücke” bridge over the Salzach and walked into the centre I ended up in an unbelievable crowd of citizens of all nationalities and continents, strolling through the best-known shopping street of Salzburg, the “Getreidegasse“, passing a. o. the birth house of Mozart. After several detours I reached – with many other guests – the Stiftskeller St. Peter, also called the St. Peter Stiftskulinarium, where the “Mozart Dinner Concert” would be held. I was glad I had made a reservation online in advance, as eventually all seats had been taken! The dinner was held in the beautiful Barocksaal: a square hall with a very high and elaborately decorated ceiling with a huge painting; in the alcoves in the walls rather modern, but colourful portraits  were placed of Mozart (above the podium) and of his wife Constance, his sister Nannerle and other ladies who had played a role in his life.


Salzburg: ceiling in de “Barocksaal” of the St. Peter Stiftskulinarium

The lights in the stylish chandeliers could be dimmed during the musical intermezzos. The tables – of course dressed with white damask cloths and napkins – were set with nice silverware. It had a luxurious look! The theme of the “Mozart dinner concert” was “A Guest of Mozart”: Mozart’s music was mainly taken from his operas and the dishes had been inspired by recipes from the 18th century. We started with an aperitive and made the acquaintance with the other guests at the table: a couple from the United States, the State of Utah, in transit from Munich to Vienna and Prague and a young lady from Brisbane, Australia and originally from Singapore, in transit from Vienna to Munich where she was going to stay for a few weeks for her study Business Administration. It was a coincidence that she was also called Pauline! Around us the leading languages were mainly (American) English and Japanese. Everybody was excited about what the evening would bring.

As a first course we were served a clear chicken broth with lemon and – very Austrian – a “Topfen-Rosmarinknödel” (a quark dumpling with rosemary). I had chosen a Grüner Veltliner “Alte Reben” (2017) from the winery Kirnbauer from Deutschkreuz in the Austrian Federal State of Burgenland in the easternmost part close to the Hungarian border. The grapes have been growing on old vines and that has improved the taste! Then the first musical intermezzo followed. The Amadeus Consort Salzburg (a string quintet) accompagied two opera singers, a soprano and a baritone. They all were dressed up in authentic costumes from Mozart’s times, which made the performance extra convincing! Well-known arias from the opera “Don Giovanni“, like the aria by Leporello, servant to the Casanova Dono Giovanni, in which he sums up all his master’s conquests as from a catalogue (“Madamina, il catalogo è questo“) and the duet between Don Giovanni and Zerlina, when he tries to seduce her, although she is already engaged to Mazetto (“Là ci darem la mano“). The enthusiasm and acting talents of both young singers clearly showed. After a warm applause the main course was served: breast fillet of “capon” (a fatted ex-rooster) in a red wine sauce, potato gratin and “vegetables from Pater Prior’s garden”. As a second musical intermezzo aria’s from “Le Nozze di Figaro” were performed, again with a lot of “Schwung“: a. o. Figaro’s aria when he discovers that his master, the Count, had laid eyes on his fiancée, Suzanna, and therefore considers to re-introduce the feudal right of the first night (“Se vuol ballare, signor contino“, meaning in a loose translation “you think you are free to do whatever you wish, but in the end I am in control: nothing will be happening!”. Placed in that period of time (three years before the French Revolution) this could be considered as a protest towards the authorities. The aria “Non piu andrai“, in which Figaro teases the young rogue Cherubino about the fate awaiting him in the army, where he will have no opportunity anymore for flirting with the ladies and nice clothes, but only for marching through the mud and fighting on the battlefield, were expressively performed. Next the dessert was served: honey parfait with a sauce of forest fruits and apricot jam with on the plate Mozart’s silhouette in sweetened cocoa.

When the tables were cleared again, the last of the musical trilogy followed: the Amadeus Consort started with the well-known first part from the “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik“. It was very impressive to here this music in the location where the composer had grown up and where he has composed so many wonderful pieces! From “Die Zauberflöte” also five more arias and duets were sung: a. o. “Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja” and “Bei Männer welche Liebe fühlen“. The audience thanked the musicians with a warm applause!

After the last encore, as I remember a duet from the “Nozze di Figaro”, the evening was over and it was time to pay for the drinks. Outside the temperature was quite pleasant. Together with the Australian Pauline I walked back, into the direction of the Linzergasse. The Cathedral and the Marian statue were bathing in the floodlight; the de Festung Hochsalzburg also was brightly illuminated.

It has been a very pleasant evening, during which beautiful music, nice company and good food went together very well. This was a nice start of my trip!

Rather early this morning I started my day: the temperatures would be rising today and there would also be large crowds, as I had already noticed in the old town yesterday. I would like to go to Kapuzinerberg hill, that on my arrival I had already seen rising vertically behind the Linzergasse. Near Hotel Stadtkrug I saw a beautiful old gate, from where a steep road with stairs as a sidewalk went up.


Salzburg: the gate towards the Kapuzinerberg

When I gained quite some height, the views on the surroundings also gained in beauty with every step. An information panel indicates that the mountains around Salzburg had protected the city against many enemies and had offered an almost endless supply of building materials, but that the mountains can also be a menace. One of the biggest mountain slides took place in 1669: then a part of the Mönchberg (on the south bank of the Salzach) came down, in which around 220 people lost their lives and the piles of debris were stacked so high that it was possible to go on foot from the river to the mountaintop.


Salzburg: view from the Kapuzinerberg towards the Mönchberg with the Museum der Moderne and the mountain Hoher Staufen in the distance

After a while I arrived at the Capuchin Monastery, from which this huge rock derives its name. The mountain has already been inhabited for a long time: on a plaque is mentioned that at first there was a Celtic settlement, before the first fortress was built, which had been converted into a monastery around 1600 AD. The interior of the church was elaborately decorated, but the modern, strongly styled cross quite stood out! Outside a bronze head of the Austrian author Stefan Zweig (1881–1942) is standing on a stele – he has lived in a house op the Capuchin Hill from 1919 until 1934, where he has written his most important works. In a distance a bust of Mozart has been placed on the location where from 1877 until 1948 the garden house had been, which had originally been standing in Vienna and where Mozart has composed his opera “Die Zauberflöte“. In the Second World War it has been so badly damaged that it had to be demolished – a replica is put near the Mozarteum in town.

Here also is a geologically interesting phenomenon – according to the information panel: the north side of the Kapuzinerberg consists of dolomitic limestone dating from an earlier period that the underlaying marlstone. The south side consists of sediment rock from a later period. The rounded shape of the mountain is later created by the scraping of the Salzach glacier.


Salzburg: the geological composition of the Kapuzinerberg mentioned on an info panel

The Kapuzinerberg is completely covered with beeches, that in this time have beautiful light green leaves. It becomes clear that there has been done a lot of work over the previous months: there are stacks of timber on a flat chart and cleaved bundles at the side of the road.

In many places the Spring vetchling (Lathyrus vernus) was in bloom: a non-winding sweet pea with deep purple flowers which later on fade into blue. The plant can be found especially in Central Europe and prefers calcareous soil – hence here!


Salzburg: spring vetchling (Lathyrus vernus) in bloom on the Kapuzinerberg

After quite a climb I arrived at the north-easternmost area of the Kapuzinerberg, at the small castle, the Franziskischlössl, with here again beautiful panoramas to the north en the west across the plain and to the southeast upon the mountains.

The descent to the city centre was closed due to construction works, so I walked down along the north side of the Kapuzinerberg.I sort of was glad that I did not take this route on the way up,: the path went over stairs, made of square beams and fixed in the slope. Somewhere halfway the noises of the city became louder again and I suddenly heard a rustle in the dry leaves on the slope. When I looked whether it wasn’t a blackbird again, I was face to face with a chamois! That there was a possibility to spot a chamois on the Kapuzinerberg – they are living there already for centuries – had been indicated on the information signs and also on the website of the hotel, but it was an extraordinary surprise!

Once back in the hustle and bustle of the city I walked along the fast flowing Salzach and crossed the Mozartsteg, a footbridge from 1903, designed in Jugendstil, on my way to the Mozartplatz: I had reserved a Salzburgcard, entitling me to use public transport en to visit museums for free.

On my way to the Mozartplatz I passed two completely different memorials: three ivy plants, pruned into the shape of a heart against the wall of the Rudolfskai along the Salzach and a modern piece of art entitled “Der Zaun des Anstosses“, The Fence of Offence, as a successful protest against the plans in the 1980s to build a  nuclear reprocessing plant in Wackendorf, a place just across the border in Bavaria. On the Mozartplatz is of course the statue of Mozart himself, which attracts all tourists like a magnet, so I also took a picture…, with the Kapuzinerberg in the background.

With the Salzburgcard in my pocket I saw nearby the Salzburger Weihnachtsmuseum – I could not let this opportunity go by! On the first floor of the building where also Café Glockenspiel is situated, the special collection around the themes Christmas and Advent is – since 2014 – on display, which has been collected over 40 years by Ursula Kloiber. It concerns the period 1840–1940, a time span with great social, political and economic changes in the German speaking countries. It was very interesting, because it was not only about Advent calendars, wish lists for Father Christmas of Christmas fairs, but also about the shift of the festivities around the Holy Saint Nicolas on December 6th, as we know in the Netherlands, towards Advent and Christmas. Here St. Nicolas’ servant wasn’t shown as the dark-skinned man, like in the Netherland as Zwarte Piet/Black Pete, but as a kind of demonic and terrifying savage under different names, like Krampus or Knecht Rupert (Servant Rupert). He was equipped with horns, a red face, a wild hairdo and a large bag, in which he put mischievous children. Therefore it was wise to be good and behave, because then one received a treat… Nevertheless around 1900 a real Krampus-trend came to life in Vienna. In the display cabinets various Nicolas- and Krampus dolls were shown. There also was a set of china Nikolaus and Krampus figures (Vienna 1920)


Salzburg: Nikolaus and Krampus made of Vienna china (1920) in the Salzburg Christmas Museum

Of course attention was paid to the decorations of the Christmas tree. In the First World War a small Christmas tree, already decorated, was for sale, in a sturdy carton box, which could be sent to the front… In the showcases wonderful gems of Christmas decorations were shown, like structures of refined paper cutting works and Jugendstil glassworks.

Back again in the warm afternoon sun I walked on to the Residenzplatz, where the water of a beautifully mounted fountain did not only fell down clattering, but also was taken along by the strong wind. Around 1650 one of the archbishops of Salzburg had ordered the creation of this fountain. The baroque fountain is nowadays considered as one of the most important in Europe. Remarkable are the snorting, water spewing horses at the basis of the fountain. At daylight it is as beautiful as by night!

Compared to yesterday evening it was quite crowded at the nearby Domplatz: many tourists were strolling around and the fiacres with their small, fierce horses were standing, waiting. Around the Marian Statue a lot of pictures were taken. This statue, a composition of sculptured marble and cast-lead, is situated straight in the axe of the façade of the Cathedral. Therefore it looks as if the crown, carried by two angels exactly fits on Mary’s head. Arcades link the squares around the Cathedral, like the Kapitelplatz at the south side of the Cathedral. In 2007 an eye-catching large golden sphere with in comparison big man in black trousers and a white shirt is put in place there: “Sphaera“. The other part is a woman in a red dress standing in an alcove of the Toscaninihof, which I haven’t spotted. The golden sphere with man of 9 metres high, is created by the German artist Stephan Balkenhol (1957) and is sometimes called the “Balkenhol-Mozartkugel“ …

I was taken along in a slow-moving stream of tourist towards the cable car that would bring us to the Festung Hohensalzburg Castle. I found out that with the Salzburgcard I could simply walk past the long queues at the ticket box and check in at the train. What an impressive view from the enormous walls of the fortress!

The construction of this Festung Hohensalzburg already started in 1077, but there have been many extensions and extra buildings added to the Castle: in fact it is a fortified city!

In 1525/1526 the borough has been besieged, whereby in spite of a strict food regime still famine was threatening. Only one bull was left. The people thought out a ruse: the bull was driven on the fortress wall, so the enemy could see that the inhabitants still had something to eat. Thereafter the bull was washed and painted black. The next day the bull was driven onto the fortress wall again: this resulted in the enemy giving up its siege and leaving! The bull was washed again and everybody participated in the feast. Since that moment the inhabitants of Salzburg are called “Bull washers”…

Talking about water and washing: when I went down again with the cable car and walked towards the Mönchberg, I passed the “Pferdeschwemme“, the pond, built in 1603 and originally designed to wash and rise the Archbishop’s parading horses. The frescos on the walls and the stunning statue of the “Horse tamer” point into that direction.


Salzburg: The statue of the “Horse Tamer” in the Horse Pond, the bathing place for horses in the 17th century

I walked on towards the Museum der Moderne, on top of the Mönchberg, a modern building indeed, that can be reached by a large elevator without views. On arriving on top however it is compensated – also the view on the modern façade above the terrace of the restaurant!

At the restaurant restaurant M32 there was quite a crowd, but I was seated on the terrace with a view on the Festung Hohensalzburg under a parasol and somewhat shielded from the wind. The wine was a Riesling and the bread was scented with anis! The asparagus soup with chervil and the home-made tagliolini with spinach and goat cheese and a salad were extra tasty with this view…

The reason to go to the Museum der Moderne an exposition about Erich Kirchner (1880–1938). This German expressionist painter has lived and worked for a long time in Davos, Switzerland. He was the founder of the art movement “Die Brücke” (The Bridge, 1905–1913). There is also a connection to the Dutch expressionist artists’ collective “De Ploeg” (The Plough”) from Groningen: the founder Jan Wiegers has been in contact with Kirchner on multiple occasions during his stay in a sanatorium in Davos and has been strongly influenced by him. Kirchner is the only one of his movement who has intensively engaged himself in photography. He has left behind about 1.300 glass- and cellulose negatives, a collection of “vintage prints” and bound photo albums with pictures of his paintings, drawings, sculptures and graphic art. He did not use the medium photography to create art as such, but so to say to train his ability to observe. In the exposition many of his photos were on display: not only as vintage print, but also as modern print out of an inkjet printer. Many of his visitors and of course his lady visitors were captured on camera with the Alpes and the mountain villa on the background. The pictures of his in reality very colourful pieces of art became even more impressive now the reproductions were in black-grey-white. A young Swiss photographer has made a photo series about the diplomat “Louis de Marsalle”, with African roots, a fictional alter ego Kirchner had created to enhance his popularity especially in France. In these modern black-and-white pictures a dark-skinned gentleman, dressed in the fashion of the 1920s, posing in Davos, in front of the railway station in the snow, in Kirchner’s villa – very evocative!

Around three o’clock I returned into the direction of my hotel. The Makart Steg is one of the pedestrian bridges over the Salzach. The thing about this bridge is that thousands of small padlocks have been attached to the trellis of both landings: over the years lovers have closed the locks and thrown the key into the Salzach ” – love for ever“!


Salzburg: the Makart-Steg bridge with thousands of padlocks – the key has been thrown into the Salzach…

After a short rest in my hotel I left again to go to the Schloss Mirabell Palace for a concert – again with Mozart – that would be performed in the “Marmorsaal” (the Marble Hall).The original Schloss Altenau has been built around 1600 as ordered by Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dieter von Raintenau as a gift to his concubine Salome Alt and their children. After Wolf Dieter’s fall in 1612 his successor renamed the Castle Schloss Mirabell. Since then the Castle has been altered several times (for the last time after the destructive city fire of 1818, in which it has lost some of its baroque character).

The world-famous gardens around the Schloss date from the early 18th century and are listed as UNESCO World Heritage. They have been spared in the city fire. The view from the Schloss on the Festung Hohensalzburg is grandiose!


Salzburg: view from Schloss Mirabell Castle across the gardens towards the Festung Hohensalzburg

From the outside of the Schloss the extravagancy of the interior is not visible, but once inside it is all about marble, excessive stucco and refined inlaid floorings. The stair well (the Donner-Stieg, named after the 18 th century designer Georg Donner) is very spacious in design with statues of gods in the alcoves and cheerful figurines of “putti” of marble on the bannisters. Who would not be inclined to race down on the bannisters instead of walking the stairs…! The stair well and the state rom, the get the “Marmorsaal” have escaped the city fire undamaged.

Nowadays the Marmorsaal is especially used for official receptions and concerts, like tonight. The hall is also very popular as a wedding hall – it is apparently considered to be the most beautiful wedding room in the world, but in my opinion it is very much over-the-top! With every glance on the walls there are little angels covered in gold foil, various kinds of marble and other types of stone. The high ceiling with chandeliers is painted with rosettes and at the friese with winged lions and eagles, carrying garlands. Quite a difference with the yesterday’s homeliness of the Barocksaal in the St. Peter Stiftskulinarium!

Salzburg: the “Marble Hall” in Schloss Mirabell Castle

The acoustic however is fabulous! Legend has it that already Leopold and the young Wolfgang Mozart have played their music here. The hall filled itself with concert-goers; I sat in the second row. The string quintet Ensemble Altenau played works by W.A. Mozart and together with the Mexican classical guitarist gitarist Cecilio Perera compositions by the Italian composer Mauro Giuliani (1781–1829) and Antonio Vivaldi (1678–1741). The ensemble started with the “Salzburger Simfonie” – it showed that this audience wasn’t quite used to concert halls, because there was applause after every part of the symphony… A concerto for guitar and strings by Giuliani was on the program: the musicians were very inspired. After the pause (with a small alcoholic treat, a tiny bottle of Austrian sekt) the ensemble and the guitarist performed the concerto for guitar and strings by Vivaldi. Perera put his music standard aside and played the concerto by heart. Now it daunted to the audience that applause wasn’t appropriate because of the concentration and just listened. What a wonderful performance it was! The guitarist announced his encore with only one word: “Tango“! The little angels with gold foil and the eagles, carrying garlands disappeared as the guitar seemed to catch fire and growled wildly by the music! Everybody, including the ensemble, was fascinated and exploded into applause. Extraordinary! To finish the concert the ensemble played Mozart’s “Eine kleine Nachtmusik“, with just a bit more passion than expected… After another encore by all musicians – a well-known theme from a movie, which title I couldn’t retrace – the concert was over. Quite an experience.

Back in the hotel I packed my rucksack: tomorrow I take an early train to Trieste, because now the time has come to go hiking. I know for sure that I will visit this wonderful city many times again!