Salzburg, “Salt Castle”, is old, really old. People have been living here and mining salt in the region since the fifth century BC. The Romans expanded the settlement in about 15 BC but ultimately abandoned it when the Empire was collapsing. It wasn’t until Saint Rupert took over in the 8th century that things really started to happen. Rupert reconnoitered the river, chose the old town for the site of his basilica, ordained priests, built a house, named the city “Salzburg”, started evangelising the pagans and the rest is history. Today Salzburg has one of the best-preserved city centers north of the Alps and was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.
Being the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Salzburg will forever be linked to classical music and high culture. It’s charms are undeniable, but like anyplace that both profits from and suffers under an unrelenting crush of tourists, it is, at times, a strange mix of class and crass. This is, indeed, an exclusive haven for high end classical music lovers who come from all over the world to listen to outstanding performances of Armadeus’ greatest hits. Unfortunately you may have to wade through some trinket and cheap t-shirt vendors to get to them.
The Sound of Music
Yes, indeed, the hills are alive with the sound of music. The region around Salzburg is the setting of the 1959 musical play and 1965 Hollywood film musical starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. The film went on to win five Academy Awards and solidified Salzburg in the minds of people worldwide. There are all manner of Sound of Music Tours available. You can quite literally follow every footstep a Von Trapp took while in Salzburg and the immediate vicinity. Wendi was like a doe caught in the headlights.