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Archive for the ‘Salzburg’ Category

White castle & cobble streets

Salzburg and castle
Salzburg is the capital of the state of Salzburg (it became independent from Bavaria in the late 14th century). It is famous for the musical “The sound of music”, the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the culinary dish “Salzburger Nocherl”. There is evidence of people who lived in the area that dates from the Neolithic Age. The Celts were the first to establish settlements at Salzburg around the 5th century BC. Under the Roman Empire, these separate villages were merged into one city, which was called Juvavum. The city got its name “Salzburg” (meaning Salt Castle), from the barges transporting salt on the Salzach River. River transport was subject to a toll in the 8th century, as with any community or city on European rivers (one can still see the metal rings along the river where thick chains were strung across the river, making it impossible for boats to pass unless the necessary taxes, levies or tolls were paid).

The old part of the town (“Altstadt”) is a Rococo church Baroque jewel of architecture: churches with beautifully painted interiors, large fountains, the sprawling castle, individually designed town houses, rose gardens and iron bridges are a feast for the eyes. The town of Salzburg is divided by the Salzach River into two fabulous, mainly pedestrian areas. On the side of Kaputzinerberg, small narrow buildings seems squashed in by the heavy presence of the mountain. The pathways are roughly cobbled, steep, labarinthian with some shops, very small cafés and the location of a large organic shop (Reformhaus). The other half of the town nestles at the foot of Mönchsberg. On top sits the white Hohensalzburg Fortress that looms over the city like a freshly baked angel cake. The winding, almost half a kilometer long pedestrian alley of Getreidegasse houses the most expensive boutiques, specialist chocolate shops and numerous restaurants. Known originally in 1150 as “Trabegasse” (to trot), changing into Tragasse, Traidgasse, Getreidgasse until the name finally came to be Getreidegasse in the 1900’s, it was in Roman times the main road linking Salzburg and Bavaria. Even in Medieval times it was a rather expensive street to be in: doctors, breweries, wealthy merchants and sought-after craftsmen lived and worked there. A charity bathhouse was also located in the street, where poorer citizens could have baths and free basic medical treatments three times a year. The Mozart family also lived in Getreidegasse.

Getreidegasse

Getreidegasse

All along this famous street, wrought iron guild signs are charming indicators of what the shops sell. Behind the upright shops and town houses are small courtyards reached via narrow lanes with low entrances. Some are open and others form covered galleries, most of them though are decorated with arcades, columns and decorative niches.

We stumbled upon a wonderful farmers’ and deli market in one of the squares. I was in seventh heaven! Walking slowly from stall to stall I noticed in my excitement the shiny deep colours of various fruit, the large sizes of bell peppers and mushrooms, the variety of fresh herbs and berries. In the end I bought far too much for our dinner (to be had in our hotel room), but I happily carried my heavy bags containing home-made hummus, artichoke spreads and olives bought from a friendly Turkish woman; bags of 3 types of nuts and organic dried fruit from a small stall; berries, figs and bell peppers (which I love to eat raw like an apple) at another stall and finally a Tyrolean cake from a man with large, worn hands. He has a family-run bakery making all sorts of regional breads and lovely cakes which proudly sport a label that they were made without eggs, dairy or sugar! They are simply made with only a few ingredients:

Entrance to apartments

Old-fashioned door bells

dried figs and hazelnuts wrapped around an oil-based pastry and shaped into a log which is baked until crispy. Absolutely delicious, and it also makes good train food.

The next morning we quickly dashed back to the market (open from 6 am – being winter it was still pitch dark) to buy a few more provisions before boarding the train to Kitzbühel, still in Austria.

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