Wonders of Europe-Part 7: Travel through Austria-Exploring the City of Sound of Music and Mozart’s B

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By Dr. Eugene DSouza, Moodubelle
Bellevision Media Network

Udupi, 02 Oct 2013: Having thoroughly enjoyed the beauty of Switzerland, its snowcapped mountains, lush green terrain and expansive lakes, we headed towards Austria on the morning of 19 July 2013.  Our first destination for the day was Vaduz, the capital of the small Principality of Liechtenstein, sandwiched between Switzerland and Southern Austria. We covered the distance of 131 kilometers between Lucerne and Vaduz  in about three hours during which we could see the beautiful rural landscape with mountain ranges and valleys in both Switzerland and Austria.


We reached Vaduz at around 11 am local time. As we entered the town, we could see a fine blending of old and new buildings. The Principality of Liechtenstein with an area of mere 160 square kilometers and an estimated population of 35,000, the capital city Vaduz could not be expected to be large and pompous. Though Vaduz is the capital of the principality, the largest town in Liechtenstein is Schaan.


Liechtenstein is known as a principality as it is a constitutional monarchy headed by a prince. Liechtenstein is divided into 11 municipalities. Much of its terrain is mountainous, making it a winter sports destination. Many cultivated fields and small farms characterize its landscape. The country has a strong financial sector located in the capital, Vaduz, and has been identified as a tax haven. It is a member of the European Free Trade Association and part of the European Economic Area and the Schengen Area, but not of the European Union.


Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein is the main shopping area in the country, with many souvenir stores and assorted restaurants. The city is also home to a modest cathedral,  the decade-old Liechtenstein Museum and a ski museum is north of the town centre. The imposing and historic castle, home to the royal family, overlooks the city of Vaduz. However, it is not open to the public, but it is possible to view it from quite close up.


On reaching Vaduz, after a short wait, we hopped into the road-rail, the front portion of which looks like an old railway engine. The road rail took us around the small town as the recorded commentary explained the landmarks that we went by. We could see the old and new buildings, castle from a distance and the vineyard owned by the princely family.

Having gone through the township of Vaduz, we had our lunch in a restaurant run by an Indian and proceeded to another destination of tourist attraction-Swarovski Crystal Worlds at Wattens at a distance of 156 kilometers from Vaduz. As our bus moved on the highway, we could see the beautiful Austrian landscape and bare and rugged mountain ranges.


The Swarovski  Crystal Worlds is housed within a hollow mound looking like the green head of a giant through whose mouth water flows continuously into a pond in front of it guarded by railings. Before entering the Crystal World we had a group picture taken in front of the giant head and proceeded to view the wonderful display of crystal objects and fantasies.


For over a hundred years the Swarovski family has been demonstrating how artistically crafted glass crystals have the power to enchant. With the "Swarovski Crystal Worlds", in Wattens established in 1995, the family went one step further, creating a special cosmos of wonder, in which the magic of crystal is "staged" in a variety of imaginative ways. The brainchild of the Austrian multimedia artist André Heller, the "Crystal Worlds" consist of fourteen "Chambers of Wonder" created by world-renowned artists and designers in the fairytale winter landscape made up of thousand of crystals, in the world’s largest kaleidoscope, in the mysterious ice street, in which the visitor becomes an explorer, or in the Crystal Dome.

After exploring the Swarovski Crystal World and coffee break, we proceeded towards another important city in Austria-Innsbruck and reached in the evening. Here we had walking city orientation tour that included the Inns River, Golden Roof and Maria Theresien Strasse.


Innsbruck is the provincial capital of Tyrol and with 120,000 residents it is the fifth largest city in Austria. It was one of the eight host cities in the 2008 European Football Championships. It has twice hosted the Winter Olympics making it not only an interesting and beautifully situated city but the "largest ski resort in the alps". It is located both close to Munich and northern Italy making it a must see alpine destination.


The city is well known for its sporting opportunities, especially alpine sports as it is in the Alps and surrounded by mountains. Several ski resorts are situated inside the city territory or within short distance.


In the heart of the historic city of Innsbruck, there is the world-famous Golden Roof, the symbol of the city. Emperor Maximilian I (1459 - 1519) had the late Gothic bay built on the occasion of his wedding around 1500 AD in order to defeat the rumors regarding the imperial financial difficulties. Moreover, it served as lodge in different performances and tournaments. The building itself, however, had been built by archduke Friedrich IV in the early 15th century.


This pedestrian street, the main thoroughfare of Innsbruck known as Maria Theresien Strasse is famous as it contains many architecturally ornate historic buildings. This is also a main shopping centre and with a number of restaurants it is also famous for dining as customers love to eat by the side of the street just outside the main restaurant under makeshift roofs.


After walking through Maria Theresien Strasse, we reached the Inn River which runs from the Engadin region in the Swiss Alps and flows across parts of Austria and Germany. The Inn River passes through Lake Silvaplana and Lake Sils as well as numerous cities and towns before leading into the Danube River. Numerous small towns have developed along the banks of the river, including towns that are the birthplaces of Pope Benedict XVI and Adolf Hitler. The most heavily populated town that it runs through is Innsbruck.


Having completed the day’s tour, we were taken to Hotel Olympia at a considerable height with sprawling hillside and the Alpine mountain in the background.


On July 20, our destination of sightseeing was Salzburg, a city known for its cultural heritage, especially in music and Baroque architecture.


By the time we reached Salzburg it was already noon. As we had to visit various spots of tourist interest by walk, our Tour Manager-Kunal Gorekar took us to an Indian Hotel appropriately named “Taj Mahal” for lunch. After lunch, the bus drove us to Mirabell Palace and Gardens where  part of the famous “The Sound of Music” movie was picturized.


Mirabell Palace is a fine example of high Baroque architecture, surrounded by formal gardens, statues, flower beds and grand walkways. The palace was built and remodeled in the 18th and early 19th centuries, and today it houses the city’s administrative offices. Decorated with marble angels, frescoes and gilt, the palace’s Marble Hall makes a pretty grand backdrop for civic meetings and regular evening concerts of Mozart.


In 1606, Salzburg’s Prince Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau commissioned the original palace. Built as a token of love for Salome Alt, his partner of 22 years, this castle may be regarded as the ‘Taj Mahal’ of Austria.


The grounds of Mirabell castle are embroidered with colourful gardens and sculptures inspired by Greek mythology. Fans of “The Sound of Music” enjoy touring the gardens where Maria taught the Von Trapp children “Do-Re-Mi”, at the far-end of the gardens.
“The Sound of Music” is a 1965 American musical film directed by Robert Wise and starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. The film is derived from the Broadway musical “The Sound of Music’” Based on the book  “The ‘Story of the Trapp Family Singers” by Maria von Trapp, the film is about a young woman who leaves an Austrian convent to become a governess to the seven children of a naval officer widower.


After walking through the Mirabell Gardens and viewing the beautiful flower-beds, the Pegasus Fountain at the center of the garden, the Mirabell Palace and the exquisite sculptures at the edge of the gardens we proceeded to the Salzach also known as the Salzburg River crossing roads and lanes. As we reached the bank of the Salzburg River, we could see the beautiful classical buildings lined up on the opposite bank of the river with the Hohensalzburg Fortress in the background.


The city of Salzburg is situated by the river Salzach, a river that runs across the entire province in a bended curve and shapes its landscape. The Salzach is 225 kilometers long and one of the most important rivers of the Austrian Alps.


The river’s name is derived from the German word Salz, meaning "salt" and "Ache" is an old German term for a river. Until the 19th century, shipping of salt down the river was an important part of the local economy. The shipping ended when railways replaced the old transport system.


After returning from the riverside, we proceeded to another important landmark in Salzburg-the birth place of the world famous musician- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The Mozart family lived on the third floor of the "Hagenauer House" at Getreidegasse for twenty-six years, from 1747 to 1773. The celebrated composer, Mozart, was born here on January 27, 1756. The building is named after the merchant and toy dealer, Johann Lorenz Hagenauer (1712-1792), who owned the building and was a friend of the Mozart family.


As we returned after viewing the birth place of Mozart through Getreidegasse, also known as Grain Lane, we could see a number of shops selling verities of articles including souvenirs in the form of small statues of Mozart.


On our way back to the centre of Old Salzburg city we could view the prominent landmark, the fabulous Residenzbrunnen or Residenz  Fountain, a monumental expression of Salzburg’s opulence. It was designed by  Tommaso di Garona and was constructed at the wish of Bishop Guidobald Thun from 1656 to 1661. Its extraordinary sculptures, 15 meters high, show four sea-horses galloping out of undersea grottos crowned with a Triton. The base of the fountain is supported by Atlas figures entwined with dolphins. The fountain is known by many from the scene in the film “The Sound of Music”, in which Maria stops to splash water at the horses while singing “I Have Confidence”.


The seventeenth-century Salzburg Cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Salzburg built in the Baroque style of architecture was the next on the list of the important sites to be visited in Salzburg. The Cathedral is dedicated to Saint Rupert and Saint Vergilius. It was founded by Saint Rupert in 774 on the remnants of a Roman town. The Cathedral was rebuilt in 1181 after a fire. In the seventeenth century, the Cathedral was completely rebuilt in the Baroque style under Prince-Bishop Wolf Dietrich Raitenau to its present appearance. Salzburg Cathedral still contains the baptismal font in which the famous musician and composer Mozart was baptized.  We also visited the nearby St. Peter’s Church and cemetery.



When we were in Salzburg, the famous Salzburg Music Festival was in progress which had started on the previous day, 19 July 2013 and was to continue till 1 September 2013. We also could see a huge statue of Mozart near which there was a make-shift stage where the musicians were performing.


As we were on our foot for the entire afternoon, moving from one tourist spot to the other, most of us were quite tired by the end of the sightseeing in the classical Salzburg city. But the entire exercise was worth the trouble that we had taken as rarely a person gets such an opportunity to see such wonderful city known for the beauty of its architecture and music.


Getting into the waiting bus, we moved back to hotel Olympia and spent the night with anticipation of moving to Italy on the next day, the country where we spent three days and visited some of the most wonderful tourist destinations.



Also Read


Part 1 : ’Wonders of Europe’ - London in a Day


Part 2 : Memorable Tour Through Historic Paris and Enchanting Disneyland 


Part 3: Onward to beautiful Brussels and classical Amsterdam


Part 4: Magnificent Cologne Cathedral-Architectural Wonder of Europe


Part 5: Through Black Forest to Cuckoo Clock Factory and Rhine Falls 


Part 6: Exciting trip to snow-filled Mt. Titlis and Jungfrau and Cruise in Lucerne Lake




Comments on this Article
Sheela Quadros, Udupi Fri, October-4-2013, 10:45
Very interesting to read. Crystal clear photograpgy with detailed narration. Thank you Dr. Eugene and waiting to read more .
Benedict Noronha, Udupi Thu, October-3-2013, 9:59
wonderful work of Dr eugene cannot be explained than appreiated. One has to envy the historic scenes and the photography.Time is the constraint to go in details. any How we have a schollar to put it lucidly before us through Belle vision.com Thanks to both Dr eugne and Belle vision.com
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