Having spent the morning on some serious sightseeing at the Hohensalzburg fortress, it was time to relax and soak up some spring sunshine at the Mirabell Gardens on the other side of the river. We came at it by a rather circuitous route, walking parallel with the river and looking for a way in, passing by the childrens’ playground and the public toilets, rather than coming in by the more usual entrance, just opposite the house where Mozart lived.
I hope you enjoy my video of the Mirabell Gardens below
I didn’t know much about the famous baroque gardens other than they were a pretty spot and a favourite place for newly wed couples to come and have their photos taken, as the palace can be hired as a wedding venue. I also knew that I’d been there as a child and was hoping to find the stone unicorns in the photos that my father had e-mailed me, where he’d taken a charming photo of me and my sisters 40 years before.
To be honest my husband and son weren’t in the least interested in Mozart or the unicorns, or the pretty flowers and promptly found a secluded spot on one of the terraces where they lay in the sunshine and read their books while I wandered around and took photos. Just along the terrace a small celebration was taking place, perhaps a post wedding party, with a table of glasses laid out on the grass, but no bride in sight.
I duly found the unicorns and the same view that my father had taken a photo of when we were children and dragged the family back there to take another photo sitting in the same spot. In the distance the fortress loomed on the hill, built by the Prince Archbishops of Salzburg to remind everyone just who was in charge around here.
Later that evening I watched the DVD of the Sound of Music and saw Julie Andrews skipping through the leafy hedge walk with the Von Trapp children, and singing Do-Re-Me on the stone steps, where now there were just people sitting on benches reading a book or watching the pigeons.
If you want the facts that I didn’t have with me at the time, as I was the following the no guidebook, follow-your-nose school of travel, they are these. The palace was built in 1606 by the Prince Archbishops Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau for his love who bore him 15 children, and was later renamed and remodelled by his successor Archbishop Markus Sitticus who also build the trick fountains at Schloss Hellbrunn. The gardens were redesigned in their present form in 1690 and the palace and gardens are often used as a venue for weddings and concerts. The gardens were opened to the public by Emperor Franz Joseph in 1854.
If you want pretty fountains, classical statuary and formal parterres filled with colourful flowers, this is the place. I imagine that in high summer the gardens are packed with tourists, but explore the outer corners of the gardens and you’ll be sure to find a quiet spot to relax.
More things to see in Salzburg
Visitor information for the Mirabell Gardens
Salzburg Official Tourism Website – Mirabell Palace and Gardens
For more information about Holidays in Austria visit the Austrian Tourism Website and follow them on Twitter @Austria_UK
My thanks to the Austria National Tourism Office UK for sponsoring our trip to Salzburg and Wolfgangsee
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