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  • Writer's pictureKatie

The Hills Are Alive

The hills are alive in Salzburg, Austria, so why not go and feel like Maria from Sound of Music? The Historic Centre of the city was once the stomping ground not only to the Von Trapp’s but also one of the most famous composers in music history, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. But this intriguing city isn’t just a part of music and film history, it’s a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and showcases some of Austria’s grandest architecture and culture.

The Centre is a Time Capsule

If you want to experience a perfectly preserved old city center, Salzburg's Centre, or Altstadt, is the perfect place for you. It dates back to the Middle Ages and is a great example of an ecclesiastical city-state that sort of rivals the Vatican, as it's been known as the Rome of the Northern Alps.

It was run by archbishops that had political and religious power starting in the 8th century and their crown jewel is the Hohensalzburg Castle, built in the 11th century, which sits at the highest peak in the Centre. It has never changed its townscape or street patterns either, so you could very well walk down the same streets as Mozart did. But being situated between Italy and Germany, Salzburg has taken some Italian and German influences as well, which has resulted in a melting pot of cultures.

The Most Intact Baroque City-Centre

If you want to explore Baroque art and architecture closer to Central Europe, the Centre has to be a top priority. No other city has such preserved architecture as Altstadt, and it's mainly thanks to two Italian architects, Vincenzo Scamozzi and Santini Solari, who were attracted to the beauty of the city.

The cathedral, which was modeled after the Vatican's St. Peter's Cathedral, has some of the best gothic architecture of the city, as do most of the buildings. There are beautiful fountains and statues in the Domplatz where markets are set up, and anyone would want to explore the Nonnberg Convent, the very same convent where Maria VonTrapp was going to take her vows. But that doesn't mean that the city is without its modern structures. Like most European cities, there is a balance of new and old.

Mozart Is Celebrated More Than Its Namesake

Salzburg essentially means salt castle, and salt was the Centre's biggest commodity. They mined and sold the mineral and called it "white gold." They shaped the salt into lumps for trade purposes and then they would sail down the river to sell it, but this is hardly the first thing that jumps to people's minds when thinking of the ancient city.

That distinction goes to Salzburg's prodigal son, Mozart, who got his start playing the organ in the city's cathedral at the age of thirteen. Now, around his birthday, Salzburg's citizens honor him instead, with a week-long music festival around his birthday every year.

Salzburg's historic Centre is the perfect place for any history lover who would love to walk untouched streets and see preserved monuments and art. Traveling there is almost like traveling back in time.

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