Salzburg – various museums to help understand the city’s history and culture

In my previous posts about Salzburg, I introduced to you the museums in the Hohensalzburg Fortress, in the DomQuartier and of Mozart’s birthplace and residence. In this post, I’ll take you to have a look at some more museums such as the Salzburg Museum, Panorama Museum, Christmas Museum and Haus der Natur to gain a better and deeper understanding of the city’s historical and cultural heritage. By the end, I’ll also give you a brief introduction to the Outdoor Museum and the Stiegl-Brauwelt Brewery Museum, which were originally in my to-visit list but missed due to time limit. If you think museums are just buildings with rooms exhibiting objects accompanied by written descriptions or explanations, I agree some of them are like that but I have to remind you, some others can be pretty fun. History and culture are two serious subjects and I guess depending on how they are presented, different groups of people will be attracted. Most of the museums in Salzburg, I would say, are neither too boring nor too shallow.

If you have read my previous three posts about Salzburg, please click here to skip the general introduction and jump directly to the main content of this one. If not, the following two chapters will, 1) talk about Salzburg as the shooting location for the external scenes of the American musical drama film “The Sound of Music“, 2) explain how the city meets 3 out of the 10 Selection Criteria to be inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage list, 3) provide you with some practical information such as the Salzburg Card, which gives you free access to all the attractions in the city and public transport and 4) introduce to you the general structure of my fours posts about Salzburg. Now let’s embark on our journey and get to know this charming city.

As the UNESCO comments:

Salzburg has managed to preserve an extraordinarily rich urban fabric, developed over the period from the Middle Ages to the 19th century when it was a city-state ruled by a prince-archbishop. Its Flamboyant Gothic art attracted many craftsmen and artists before the city became even better known through the work of the Italian architects Vincenzo Scamozzi and Santini Solari, to whom the centre of Salzburg owes much of its Baroque appearance. This meeting-point of northern and southern Europe perhaps sparked the genius of Salzburg’s most famous son, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, whose name has been associated with the city ever since.


萨尔茨堡市历史中心: 当萨尔茨堡还是大主教统治下的一个城邦的时候,就一直在尽力保护那些建于中世纪至19世纪的珍贵城市建筑。在她广为人知之前就以其火焰样的哥特式艺术吸引了大批工匠和艺术家。后来,意大利建筑师文森佐·斯卡莫齐(Vincenzo Scamozzi)和山迪尼·索拉里(Santini Solari)为这里带来了大量巴洛克风格的建筑,通过他们的作品,这个城市也得到了更大的知名度。也许正是这种南北欧艺术的交融才成就了萨尔茨堡最著名的天才——乌夫冈·阿马戴乌斯·莫扎特(Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)。从那时起至今, 他的名字便一直和这个城市联系在一起。

1. Introduction to the city

1.1 The Sound of Music

What do you first think of when someone mentions Salzburg? For me, Mozart of course, and then it’s the movie “The Sound of Music“, a 1965 American musical drama film produced and directed by Robert Wise, and starring Julie Andrews. Being a huge success, it received five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, and in 2001, the United States Library of Congress selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry, finding it “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. I’m not sure how popular it is in your country, but in China, I can say that once you sing “Do-Re-Mi“, “The Lonely Goatherd”, “My Favorite Things”, “Edelweiss” and “So Long, Farewell”, most of the people around my age will recognize from which movie they are immediately. The film was so popular that I remember I watched it during classes (played by the teacher) in primary school, middle school and high school and my classmates and I even performed part of it in the primary school graduation ceremony. As I learnt from the info sheets provided by the tourism office, “The Sound of Music” has been seen by every one out of three Japanese tourists and is one of the main reasons for three quarters of American tourists to visit Salzburg.

Having said so much about the movie, what does it have to do with Salzburg then? In fact, the general plot is based on a real story (with certain variations) of the von Trapp family who lived here and the external scenes of the movie was shot in this city and the surrounding region. Though more than 50 years has passed, I still recognized many places that I saw in the movie. For example, the Mirabell Palace and Garden (as you can see in the first picture above), where Maria and the children were dancing and finished the song “Do-Re-Mi” at the background of the rooftops, towers and the fortress, the Felsenreitschule (as you can see in the second picture above), where the von Trapp family win first prize at the end of the film, St. Peter’s cemetery (as you can see in the third picture above), where the family hides from the Nazis, Schloss Leopoldskron, the house where the family lived in the movie, the Nonnberg Convent (as you can see in the fourth picture above), where the young Maria was a novice, the Residenzplatz Square and Residence Fountain, the Sound of Music Pavillon close to Schloss Hellbrunn and so on. I even found the narrow streets, houses and various old shops familiar and they brought back my memory not only of the movie but also of the school time with my classmates and friends, whom I meet rarely nowadays… I recommend you obtaining a map from the tourism office called “Salzburg – Die Bühne der Welt” and on it, you can see attractions marked with musical notes, which indicate the locations for shooting the movie. In my this and the following posts, I’ll also remind you of the scenes when I talk about relevant attractions. If you wanna know more about the shooting locations please click here and if you wanna know about guided tours of this particular theme, please click here.

1.2 UNESCO World Heritage

Considering I’m recently focusing on the visiting and writing about the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Europe, I decided to pay a visit to Salzburg during its 20-year anniversary of being in the UNESCO World Heritage list (1997-2017). In 1997, UNESCO officially recognized the historical center of Salzburg as a World Heritage site because of its unique cityscape influenced by both German and Italian cultures, its architecture shaped by the prince-archbishops of the former days and its significant role as a musical metropolis and the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Though currently a modern city, its distinctive architectural features have been well preserved.

Before visiting the city, I had no idea that it once served as the seat of ecclesiastical power in the heart of Europe. I guess that’s why there are so many churches and monasteries in the old town. Being a busy merchant town in the Middle Ages and the former residence of the prince-archbishops, Salzburg has an iconic ensemble of buildings dating back to different periods of time. The thriving cultural exchange between the south and north of Europe, in particular the architects and artists invited here from Italy, made the city one of the most beautiful and unique in the whole of Europe. Besides its architectural beauty, how can we ignore its role as a musical and cultural metropolis? It is well-known that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Getreidegasse 9 and over 350 of his most beautiful pieces were written here, but do not forget that it is also here that the theatre director and producer founded the famous Salzburg Festival. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why “The Sound of Music” was chosen to be based on a real Salzburg family and filmed here.

The historical center of Salzburg is accepted and protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site based on three out of the ten Selection Criteria. The fact that it was the former residence of the prince-archbishops meets criterion ii: “to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design”. Its authentic, well-preserved and unique architectural ensemble in the city center meets criterion iv: “to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history”. Last but not least, its development in music and most famous son Mozart meet criterion vi: “to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance”. I’ll elaborate a bit more on these three criteria in the following sections and organize my four posts about Salzburg according to them. However, I’d like to remind you that the three aspects are interconnected and it’s impossible to talk about any one of them in a strictly isolated manner without mentioning the other two.

What’s also notable in this city is the Salzburg Marionette Theatre, inscribed in the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage, on which 96 traditions in Austria are featured and 25 of them are in Salzburg Province. The theatre is particularly worth preserving due to its “highly developed form of puppet and marionette theatre”. As commented by the UNESCO, “the Salzburg Marionette Theatre has been dedicated to this art from since 1913. Aside from performance skills, it also requires passion on the craftsmanship required to carve, paint, costume and move the puppets.” I’ll talk more about this form of art when I introduce to you the Marionette Museum in the Hohensalzburg Fortress. Do you remember in “The Sound of Music“, Maria and the seven children perform a puppet show with the song “The Lonely Goatherd” to impress Captain Georg von Trapp and the Baroness? It seems the movie does try to integrate the heritage of the city.

Silent Night
Holy Night
All is calm
All is bright
Round yon virgin
Mother and child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Do you know the song above? It is certainly one of the or even the most popular Christmas carol and both its lyrics and melody are so familiar. Once I hear it either on the streets or on TV, I know that Christmas is coming. Composed in 1818 by Franz Xaver Gruber with lyrics by Joseph Mohr in the small town of Oberndorf bei Salzburg, “Silent Night” was declared an intangible cultural heritage by the UNESCO in 2011. Although the original version of the words and melody from 1818 no longer exists, four original autographs by Franz Xaver Gruber (written in his own hand) have been preserved. In the Salzburg Museum housed in the Neue Residenz, you will have the opportunity to see the only autograph from the pen of Joseph Mohr (facsimile). As you can see from the picture above, the title at that time was simply “Weihnachtslied” (Christmas Carol).

 1.2.1 Salzburg as an ecclesiastical principality and state of the Holy Roman Empire

For over 1000 years, Salzburg was part of the Holy Roman Empire with its ecclesiastical power in the hands of the archbishops. As I read from the press information, “after the Vatican, it was the second most important seat of the church, thus the name, ‘The Rome of the North’.” The Baroque squares, narrow valleys, churches and monasteries all testify to the architectural, artistic, historical and cultural legacy of the prince-archbishops. As a state of the Holy Roman Empire, Salzburg, as its name indicates (Salz means salt in German), owed its wealth to the mining of salt, ores and precious stones, which allowed the untiring building activities in the city. During this period of time, Rome, as the model, played an important role in shaping Salzburg’s appearance. A cathedral, many churches, chapels, monasteries and even graveyards were built under the influence of Italian precedents. Many of the constructions were overseen by Italian master architects including Vincenzo Scamozzi, the spiritual heir of Andrea Palladio, who designed countless masterpieces in the Veneto region. What’s particularly worth mentioning is the period between 1587 and 1612, when Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich, a great admirer of the Italian way of life, made a long-lasting impression upon the appearance of the town by transforming the medieval Salzburg into a peal of the early Baroque period. All in all, we can say that the archbishops laid the foundations for the Salzburg that we see nowadays, the city of churches.

In successfully making Salzburg a globally recognized major city in the music world, the patronage provided by the prince-archbishops to the musicians and composers in old times played a vital role. In the cathedral, you will see the magnificent main organ on the western gallery as well as the south-eastern pipe organ, the “Hoforgel” (Halo Organ) which was frequently played by W. A. Mozart. Also here, you will see the font in which both Mozart and Joseph Mohr, the lyricist for “Silent Night”, were baptized.

In order to have a better or deeper understanding of this aspect of the city, I recommend you visiting the cathedral, DomQuartier MuseumsSt. Peter’s Church, Cemetery and Catacombs, the Nonnberg Priory, the Holy Trinity Church, St. Sebastian’s Church & Cemetery, the Capuchin Monastery and the Franciscan Church. If you are particularly interested in religion, please click here to check the full list of churches that you can visit in Salzburg.

1.2.2 A musical metropolis and the birthplace and residence of  W. A. Mozart

The first thing I know about Salzburg is that it’s the city where the music genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born and grew up. Judging from the amount of tourists in Mozart’s Birthplace and Residence Museums, I’m certain that he is one of the main reasons why people choose to come here. Born on 27th January 1756 in Getreidegasse 9, Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood. Already competent in keyboard and violin, he composed from the age of five and performed before the European royalty. After the completion of renovations in 2010, Mozart’s Birthplace now houses a permanent exhibition based on four themes. As you can see in the first picture above, it is one of the most frequently photographed buildings and one of the most visited museums in the world. Why? Because it is right here at this place that he wrote more than 350 of his most beautiful pieces and we can say that this house witnessed not only Mozart’s birth but also the development in his career which eventually turned him into one of the most significant composers in the world. Another building or museum I’d like to recommend to you is the Mozart Residence, where Mozart lived from autumn 1773 until 1780 before settling for the rest of his life in Vienna.

Since we are talking about Mozart, I’d like to take a “detour” for chocolate lovers. In 1890, Salzburg’s master confectioner Paul Fürst invented a praline and called it Mozartkugel (Mozart Ball) in honor of the great composer. The praline features its round shape and technically difficult concentric composition: green pistachio marzipan surrounded by a layer of nougat, and dipped into dark melted chocolate. The “Original Salzburger Mozartkugel” is a specialty still produced by hand nowadays without any artificial ingredients or preservatives and it can not be found in international supermarkets or souvenir booths but only in the four “Confiserie Fürst” shops in Salzburg. Please note that I saw many shops selling Mozartkugel wrapped with foil with the famous colorful portrait of Mozart, but that’s not the original one. The original ones can only be found in the “Confiserie Fürst” shops, as you can see from the picture above, and they are wrapped with silver foil with a portrait of Mozart in blue.

Talking about music in Salzburg, if the most famous person is Mozart, then the most famous song is probably “Silent Night“, first performed at the former St. Nikola parish church in Oberndorf bei Salzburg by the schoolmaster Franz Xaver Gruber and the young priest Joseph Mohr on Christmas Eve 1818. The lyricist Joseph Mohr was born and raised in Salzburg and the original autograph transcribed in his own hand is now preserved in the Salzburg Museum. As you might have noticed, 2018 will be the 200-year anniversary of the song and various events will take place in the city throughout the year. For example, from 24th November to 18th December 2018, the musical “Silent Night Story” written by John Debney for this occasion will be performed at the Felsenreitschule; from 30th November to 16th December 2018, the traditional Salzburg Advent Singing will introduce its own special production focusing on the “Silent Night” theme; and from 28th September 2018 to 3rd February 2019, a special exhibition called “Silent. Night. 200. Creation, Message & Commerce” will be held in the Salzburg Museum. In keeping with the six verses of the song, the exhibition comprises six thematic spaces depicting the musical qualities of the song, its dissemination, the biographies of its creators as well as its political and commercial exploitation. If you wanna know more about the advent events related to the “Silent Night” in 2018, please click here.

Did you know that Salzburg has another nickname which is “Stage of the World“? As a world-renowned musical metropolis, it holds 4500 cultural events each year. For example, at the end of January or beginning of February, the high-quality Mozart Festival, featuring fantastic soloists, conductors and orchestras such as the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Concentus Musikus, Camerata Salzburg and the Mozarteum Orchestra, attracts numerous music lovers to the city; in the spring, there are the Easter and Whitsun Festivals founded by the world-famous Salzburg-born conductor Herbert von Karajan; in the autumn, there is the Festival Jazz and the City; and in the winter during the Christmas time, probably the most beautiful time of the year, the Salzburg Advent Singing at the Large Festival Hall (Grosses Festspielhaus), the Salzburg Advent in St. Andrew’s Church and the Winterfest will surely take you into a fairyland full of music, romance, warmth, peace and winter charm. Not on time for the festivals? Don’t worry. Throughout the year, you will find Salzburg Palace Concerts in the Mirabell Palace, Fortress Concerts in the state rooms of the Hohensalzburg Fortress, Mozart Dinner Concerts in St. Peter’s and a diversified program offered by Salzburg’s Marionette Theater. If you are interested, please click here to check the ongoing events upon your arrival and maybe book your tickets in advance.

Did you notice that I didn’t mention any festivals in the summer in Salzburg? It’s not because nothing is happening during this season but because the festival is so important that I wanna dedicate a paragraph to it separately. This festival is called “Salzburger Festspiele” (Salzburg Festival in English) and is held each summer (for five weeks starting in late July) with one highlight being the annual performance of the play Jedermann (Everyman) by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Founded in 1920 after World War I by Max Reinhardt together with a group of intellectuals and artists such as the poet and dramatist Hugo von Hofmannsthal, the composer Richard Strauss, the scenic designer Alfred Roller and the conductor Franz Schalkwho, who aimed at turning the entire city into a stage, the Salzburg Festival is one of the world’s most distinguished music festivals with many prominent guests. The Festival Halls, where the festival is held, offer a guided tour of the Felsenreitschule and the Great Festival Hall (Großes Festspielhaus) and I’ll talk more about them in my second post about Salzburg.

In general, if you wanna experience Salzburg as a musical capital, I recommend you visiting the birthplace and residence of Mozart, joining a guided tour of the Festival Halls or simply attending one of the festivals or concerts during your visit. If you are particularly interested in the Christmas carol “Silent Night“, you should visit the Salzburg Museum housed in the Neue Residenz.

1.2.3 A unique cityscape integrating northern and southern European cultures

Established at the end of the 7th century, Salzburg was ruled by Catholic bishops and archbishops up until the early 19th century. A walk in the historical center will surely make you fall in love with the city but even better, why not going up the surrounding hills such as Mönchsberg, Festungsberg and Kapuzinerberg to have a stunning view of the harmonious blend of scenic landscapes and architecture? As you can see from the four pictures above, which were taken from the viewing platforms of the three hills I mentioned just now, all the baroque churches, squares, narrow streets and houses are under your eyes. The Hohensalzburg Fortress, a baroque masterpiece, can be seen from almost everywhere in the city. Dating back to the 11th century, it is one of the largest fortifications in Europe. In the festival district, you can still find evidence of the Medieval period and the Getreidegasse is one of the most charming shopping streets in the world. The St. Peter’s Monastery accommodates the city’s most lovely cemetery and the cathedral features a mighty dome and a magnificent façade which is made of Untersberg marble. In my third post about Salzburg, I’ll recommend you some viewpoints where you can truly and fully admire the beauty of this amazing city, both in the daytime and at night.

Besides appreciating its charming scenic appearance, the best way to gain a deeper understanding of Salzburg’s cultural and historical heritage is to visit its more than 20 museums and galleries. In additions to the ones I mentioned above such as the DomQuartier, the Hohensalzburg Fortress, St Peter’s Abbey, Mozart’s Birthplace and Residence, the Festival Halls and the Salzburg Museum, I recommend to you the Salzburg Open-air Museum, one of the largest museums in Austria and one of the biggest of its kind in the world, the Panorama Museum, home to an enormous panoramic painting of the historical Salzburg city and its surroundings created by J. M. Sattler, the Stiegl-brauwelt, Europe’s biggest interactive exhibition dedicated to the world of beer, Haus der Natur, one of the most visited natural history museums in Europe featuring an aquarium and a reptile zoo, the Salzburg Christmas Museum and the Museum of Modern Art. In my four posts, I’ll cover all the museums and give you a rather detailed introduction to the ones that impressed me a lot.

Considering I was in Salzburg during the Christmas in 2017, I’d like to talk a bit more about the Salzburg Advent. The Christmas market (Christkindlimarkt in German) on the Cathedral Square and Residence Square is absolutely a highlight and I learnt from the press information sheets that with its over 525-year history, it is one of the oldest and most beautiful advent markets in the world. In fact, besides the market on the two main squares, there are more in the Sterngarten, on the Mirabell Square, at the Hohensalzburg Fortress and at the St. Peter’s. Basically the entire historical center is turned into a winter fairyland with romantic, warm and magic Christmas atmosphere. From the end of November till Christmas, the booths offer visitors not only tasty culinary delicacies but also traditional handcrafted products from Salzburg. As I mentioned above, this year, 2018, the Christmas here will be even more special because of the 200-year anniversary of the song “Silent Night”. Just a reminder, there is a Christmas Museum on the Mozart Square and I visited it because it seemed to be the “right” thing to do in such a closely related festive season. It is small but cute and if you are from western countries, I’m sure it will bring back your memory of the Christmas in your childhood. If, like me, you are from some other parts of the world, where Christmas is not really much celebrated, the museum gives you a good opportunity to learn about the history and tradition of it.

2. Practical information

2.1 Salzburg Card

Concerning your visit in Salzburg, I’d like to give you some practical information such as the Salzburg Card, the public transport, etc. By the end of this chapter, I’ll tell you the general arrangement of content of my four posts about the city and depending on how much time you have to spend here and which aspect(s) of the city you are most interested in, you can choose to read the most relevant posts in detail.

First of all, if you want to visit most of the major attractions in Salzburg such as the DomQuartier, the Hohensalzburg Fortress, the Birthplace and Residence of Mozart and so on, I strongly recommend you buying the Salzburg Card. It has several advantages and using it to explore the city is absolutely a good deal. With this card, you can enjoy:

  • one-time free entry to all the attractions and museums in the city (including the lift to go to Mönchsberg and Hohensalzburg Fortress)
  • free travel on public transport (even to the Untersberg cable car station)
  • discounts on cultural events such as concerts
  • discounts on tours and excursions.

I was rather shocked that this one card gives free access to all the attractions in the city, but after using it, I can assure you that it’s true. Nevertheless, please note that as for entering the state rooms in the Hohensalzburg Fortress, you have to use the card before 11:00 to gain free access. The card is available at most hotels, tourism offices and ticket offices in and around Salzburg and if you wanna order it online in advance, please click here. At the back of the card, remember to write down your name and the date and time of your first use because it serves as your public transport ticket. When you get your card on site, you will get a booklet called “All of Salzburg. One card. All-inclusive”, which is very useful for your trip. In one side of it, you will find a list of the attractions together with some tips, their brief introductions, opening hours and addresses while on the other side you, will see various events, tours and excursions with discounted prices.

How much does the card cost? Well, depending on the season of your visit and how long you need the card to be valid for, the prices are different. This is because in winter some attractions such as the Hellbrunn Palace and the Salzach Cruise (from November to March) are closed and suspended.

From 1st November to 30th April and from 1st November to 31st December, each card costs:

  • 24 hours: 25 €
  • 48 hours: 33 €
  • 72 hours: 38 €
  • Please note that children between 5 and 16 years old can get the card for half price.

From 1st May to 31st October, each card costs:

  • 24 hours: 28 €
  • 48 hours: 37 €
  • 72 hours: 43 €
  • Please note that children between 5 and 16 years old can get the card for half price.

Which card should you buy? Well, depending on how many days you will stay, you should buy the corresponding card. For me, I got the 72-hour one and spent entire three days there, but still, I couldn’t visit all the attractions because there are really too many. I didn’t manage to visit the Open-air Museum, the zoo, the Stiegl Beer Museum, the Mozart Sound and Film Collection and so on and I suggest that after reading my posts, you can make a choice of your “preferences”. Don’t be greedy because you can’t see everything in Salzburg during only one trip anyway and I recommend you taking your time to get close to it, explore it and understand it.

2.2 Public transport

If you live quite close to the historical city center, I don’t think buses are that important. One thing I liked a lot about Salzburg is that its attractions are quite concentrated, which means that I didn’t need to travel a long distance to visit them. I remember that except for going to the mountain Untersberg and the Stiegl-brauwelt, I visited everything on foot. Nevertheless, during your visit, if you want to go to the Open-air Museum, Salzburg Zoo, the Hellbrunn Palace and the Trick Fountains (which I didn’t visit because I didn’t have enough time), you need to take the bus. Don’t worry, all the rides are free with the Salzburg Card.

2.3 General structure of my four posts about Salzburg

In my four posts about Salzburg, I will try to elaborate on the three criteria that the city meets which make it a World Heritage site protected by the UNESCO. In the first post, I’ll talk about the fortress, the DomQuartier (including the former residence of the prince-archbishops, the cathedral and St. Peter’s Abbey), evidence of the power and influence of the archbishops. In the second post, I’ll focus on the city’s role as a musical metropolis and introduce to you the birthplace and residence of W. A. Mozart and the Festival Halls where the famous Salzburg Festival is held every summer. In the third post, I’ll recommend you some great spots to admire the beauty and charm of the city and in the last one, I’ll enhance your understanding and knowledge of its historical and cultural heritage by introducing to you some more museums such as the Salzburg Museum and the Panorama Museum. Even though I didn’t have time to visit some of the attractions that I had planned to, I’ll give you a brief introduction based on the information provided by the tourism office so that you can have more choices. Now, let’s start exploring and discovering Salzburg’s rich history and culture.

3. Salzburg Museum

The pictures above are just to give you a general feeling of the museum and in the next sections, I’ll show you some impressive items from its collection including the “original” autograph of “Silent Night” from the pen of Joseph Mohr, compositions written by W. A. Mozart, W. A. Mozart’s hair and pocket writing tablet and so on.

The museum is housed in the Neue Residenz, whose construction took over one hundred years. Four archbishops were responsible for its appearance, although the building was essentially characterized by the concepts of Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau. The archbishop had the former buildings torn down in 1588 to raise a new one for himself and his guests. However, he then decided to keep the Alte Residenz as his home in 1605. An unmissable attraction of the palace is Salzburg’s famous carillon, which accommodates 35 bells manufactured by Melchior de Maze, a bell caster in Antwerp. For more information about it, please click here.

3.1 Practical information

Opening hours:

  • Tuesday – Sunday: 9:00 – 17:00
  • 31st December: 9:00 – 14:00
  • Closed: 1st November, 24th and 25th December

Ticket Prices:

A standard ticket for entering the Salzburg Museum alone costs 8.5 euros and for entering both the Salzburg Museum and the Panorama Museum costs 10 euros. The Salzburg Card allows free entry to both of them. If you wanna know about discounted prices and conditions for free entry, please click here.

Please remember to leave ENOUGH time for visiting this museum because as I learnt from my lesson (right before I reached the second floor, it was announced that the museum was closing soon), you need at least 2 hours. The exhibitions are distributed over three floors (basement, first and second floor) plus a mezzanine and personally, I think the emphasis should be placed on the first and second floors.

3.2 Basement (Lois Renner)

Together with Lois Renner, a Salzburg-born artist, the Salzburg Museum presents an outstanding representative of Austrian contemporary art. This exhibition is held at two venues, that is to say, the Kunsthalle in the basement and several rooms on the second floor. The distinctive feature of Renner’s pictures is the inspired fusion of painting and photography. With these pictures, Lois Renner opens the door to new visual experiences. As written on the info board on site, “they are about illusion and reality, and about journeys of discovery to the history and future of painting“. Let me take one of the pictures here, “Florida 1000” (as you can see in the first picture above) as an example. In this picture, the model itself, Renner’s studio on Schönbrunner Strasse in Vienna, seems to be a simple exhibition room but a monumental ceiling painting breaks through the emptiness. I recognized it instantly because not long ago I visited Ca’ Rezzonico in Venice and saw Giambattista Tiepolo’s “The Triumph of Zephyr and Flora“. The transformation of the studio corresponds to the myth of the nymph Chloris, who was metamorphosed by Zephyr into Flora and brought beauty, color and diversity into the world.

Another noteworthy artwork in this exhibition is the “Model Studio Schönbrunner Strasse Vienna“. For around three decades, Renner has been working with models, which are mini-copies of his studios in Vienna and Salzburg. With these models and pictures, he creates “multi-layered and fascinating visual experiences and superimposes illusion and reality on one another”.

3.3 Mezzanine

This room on the mezzanine is dedicated to Christmas cribs from the 18th to the 20th centuries.

3.4 First floor (Tell Me About Salzburg!)

As its name suggests, the exhibition (which I learnt later is a special exhibition held until 30th April 2019) on this floor tells (hi)stories of the art and culture of Salzburg. With more than 1000 objects and artworks, it is divided into 12 themes, that is to say, 1) True fables! The fabulous world of Salzburg sagas and their relationship to history, 2) Quest into the past – Salzburg unearths its history, 3) Silent Night! Holy Night! What a carol tells us and what it can reveal about its time, 4) On the trail of Haydn and Mozart: “reports” on the history of music in Salzburg, 5) Under the patronage of the dowager Empress Caroline Auguste: Salzburg tells its history in its own museum, 6) Time window 1866 and 1916: images of change, 7) Back to the future: Salzburg utopias in the years between the wars, 8) Salzburg and national socialism: the oppressive legacy of history, 9) Wotruba and Thorak: a Salzburg summit of a unique kind, 10) Art under the banner of the Cold War – or how the “nuclear bomb of cultural Bolshevism” was ignited in Salzburg, 11) Two Days Facing the Cloud-kitchen Mountain (Peter Handke) – literary images of Salzburg and 12) Lisl Ponger: the museum in the museum.

The first room tells fictional stories related to Salzburg’s history, for example, stone, salt and ore mining. As I mentioned in my post about Hohensalzburg Fortress, the city is rich in raw materials and it gained its name from salt mining, which ensured enormous wealth and had decisive influence on the city’s future.

Iuvavum was a city in the province of Noricum and was founded in the mid-1st century as municipium Claudium Iuvavum. The city center with the forum was located on the left bank of the Salzach, near today’s historic center. Do you remember that in my second post, I talked about the unveiling of the statue of Mozart? The ceremony was postponed because mosaics of the ancient villa was discovered under the square. Both in this room and in the Cathedral Excavations Museum, you can see the Roman building remains, which tell us stories about the city’s Roman past. In a small room connected to this one, you will see an archaeologist’s desk, on which you can observe the objects in the drawer through a magnifying glass, measure them and draw them. If you adjust the light, you can read the secret writing and learn more about the objects.

One of the most interesting themes for me was elaborated in Room 3, “Silent Night! Holy Night! What a carol tells us and what it can reveal about its time.” As I mentioned in the Introduction chapter, composed in 1818 by Franz Xaver Gruber with lyrics by Joseph Mohr and first performed at the former St. Nikola parish church in the small town of Oberndorf bei Salzburg, “Silent Night” was declared an intangible cultural heritage by the UNESCO in 2011.

Written by Joseph Mohr in 1816, the poem “Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!” reveals to us the life in Salzburg during those years. As I read from the info board on site, “Oberndorf and Laufen are now divided between Austria and Bavaria. Salzburg was in dire economic distress because of the Napoleonic wars and the imbroglio of changing governments headed alternately by the French, the Habsburgs and Bavaria. The crisis was also exacerbated by a natural phenomenon which made 1816 go down in history as the ‘year without summer‘, remembered for its acute famine.”

As you can see in the fourth picture above, the card was issued in 1918 for the 100-year anniversary of the first performance of the carol “Silent Night”. It also shows the schoolhouse of Arnsdorf, where Gruber composed the melody.

Although the original version of the words and melody from 1818 no longer exists, four original autographs by Franz Xaver Gruber (written in his own hand) have been preserved. The first and second pictures above show the only autograph from the pen of Joseph Mohr. As you can see, the title at that time was simply “Weihnachtslied” (Christmas Carol). Please note, considering the original document is extremely fragile, the autograph shown is a facsimile.

The third picture above shows the Authentic Origination from the year 1854 and it was written by Franz Xaver Gruber to confirm the copyright on the carol. The Royal Prussian Court Chapel in Berlin had at that time requested information from St. Peter’s Abbey in Salzburg about the composer of the “Silent Night”.

Besides Room 3 which focuses on the Christmas carol “Silent Night”, the other room I like a lot in this museum is Room 4, “On the trail of Haydn and Mozart: “reports” on the history of music in Salzburg”. Here you can see the foundation stone of the Mozarthaus (today’s Mozarteum) and one of the early objects of the Salzburg Museum, the writing tablet which was donated by the Imperial Royal Police Commissioner Kaser and described as W. A. Mozart’s pocket writing tablet (as you can see in the fourth picture above).

In 1839, Leopold Mozart compiled a music book for his daughter Nannerl containing 62 pieces by various composers. She used it for her piano lessons and so did her younger brother W. A. Mozart, who write his first compositions on the empty pages. Nannerl detached the minuet from the music book and presented it as a gift to the earlier court secretary Friedrich Ritter von Hartmann under Prince-Archbishop Hieronymus von Colloredo. He donated this autograph to the Salzburg Museum in 1839 and a facsimile is on display here (as you can see in the second and third pictures).

Another exhibit which kind of shocked me (though I’ve already been shocked in Mozart’s Birthplace) was a lock of W. A. Mozart’s hair, which came into the possession of this museum through the singer Josephine, Baroness of Cavalvabò, the later beloved and sole heiress of W. A. Mozart’s son Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart. It is said that at that time, human hair was a favorite token to remember a highly esteemed and beloved person.

The 5th room is dedicated to the theme “Under the patronage of the dowager Empress Caroline Auguste: Salzburg tells its history in its own museum”. The museum, exhibiting weapons, coins, plants, minerals, books and works of art, was the very first place for narrating Salzburg’s own (hi)story. All of the exhibits had to be especially associated with Salzburg, particularly as “foreign items were entirely excluded from this collection”. As you can see in the two pictures above, the former rustic parlor comes from the so-called Judenhof in Goldegg and its (Judenhof) owners date back to 1441. The parlor is paneled with Swiss pine, decorated with rich intarsia and was installed in 1606. Johann Hinterlechner, who took over the Judenhof in 1869, sold the parlor to the Salzburg Museum in 1883 and as one of the main attractions here, it is an important witness to the sophisticated furnishing and furniture of an early-17th-century home.

Above are the themes and exhibits that interested me a lot during my visit. I have to say the content of this exhibition is well-arranged and before entering each of the 12 rooms you should see a big info board providing some general information about the specific theme elaborated. It was indeed a pity that I didn’t even get the chance to go to the second floor because the museum was announced to be closing very soon. As I read from the official website, the second floor exhibits two themes, which are “The Salzburg Myth” and “Salzburg, City of Music“. If you wanna have a preview, please click the links.

The next museum we are going to visit is the Panorama Museum, famous for a giant panorama picture created by Johann Michael Sattler with his assistants. In fact, you don’t need to exit the Neue Residenz. Just by going through the Panorama Passage (which is free of charge to visit), whose entrance is located on your right hand side when you enter the residence (the ticket office of the Salzburg Museum is on your left hand side), you will reach the Panorama Museum easily. Don’t forget to but your ticket in advance as there’s no ticket office in the passage.

At the beginning of the passage, you can see two walls with mural paintings, a potter’s kiln and some other objects discovered during excavations here, which show how well-furnished the houses are of the ancient Roman Salzburg – Iuvavum, a city in the province of Noricum and was founded in the mid-1st century as municipium Claudium Iuvavum. As you walk towards the Panorama Museum, you will see four models of the city as well as objects typical of certain periods which demonstrate the development of Salzburg from the Roman times to the early 19th century.

After scanning your ticket, you will soon enter the Panorama Museum.

4. Panorama Museum

For some practical information such as the opening hours and ticket prices please click here. If you wanna visit both this museum and the Salzburg Museum, buying a combined ticket is a good option, though both admissions are included in the Salzburg Card.

When I was visiting this museum, a special exhibition was held celebrating the 20-year anniversary of the historic center of Salzburg being on the UNESCO World Heritage list. It focused on introducing this area and preserving it for our future generations. During your visit, I think this exhibition should already be finished. Please click here, scroll down and click “Special Exhibitions” to check what the new temporary exhibitions will be.

The highlight here is absolutely the huge panorama picture exhibited in the central “column”. The entrance is located on the first floor and after a walk around the “column” you will find it easily.

As you can see in the last two pictures above, this painting is huge, measuring 26 meters long, 5 meters tall, and taking an entire space of 130 square meters. Much bigger than my apartment! Among the most valuable objects of the Salzburg Museum collections, it shows the city of Salzburg and its environs as they were in around 1829. Its creator, Johann Michael Sattler, painted it together with his assistants and toured with it through Europe for 10 years from 1829 to 1839. They travelled to Hamburg, Oslo, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Paris, Brussels, etc. and Sattler can be considered the first tourism promoter of Salzburg.

Besides its size, another remarkable feature of this painting is its detailed depiction of many aspects of the everyday urban life in and around Salzburg about 200 years ago. People of various social classes and occupations, windows, chimneys and roofs of the buildings as well as topographical characteristics, of the urban area in particular, of that period of time are immortalized here. I hope that when you are inside this central “column” the telescopes will be installed again because during my visit they were somehow removed and it took me quite some efforts to see the details…

5. Christmas Museum

Opening hours:

  • Wednesday – Sunday: 10:00 – 18:00
  • During Salzburg Summer Festival & in December: daily 10:00 – 18:00
  • 24th and 31st December: 10:00 – 13:00
  • Closed: from 1st February to the middle of March

Ticket prices:

  • Adults: € 6
  • Children: € 3
  • Students, senior citizens and people with disabilities: € 5
  • Groups of 15 people or more: € 5
  • Guided tour (booking in advance): € 55
  • Salzburg Card: one time free admission

I visited Salzburg during the Christmas time and this museum seemed to be a “must-go”. It is located on Mozartplatz (Mozart Square) so after you come out of the Neue Residenz, you can reach it by foot in two minutes. Over a period of 40 years, Ursula Kloiber has built up an extraordinary collection on the subject of “Advent and Christmas“, which is of high significance in introducing part of Europe’s culture and tradition.

The museum is not big and I suggest that one hour or a bit less should be enough. Upon entering each section, the purple info board will provide you with some general information about the particular theme explained here and the exhibits are corresponding examples. These themes include “Advent Calendar“, “Christmas Markets“, “Letters to Baby Jesus”, “St. Nicholas and Krampus”, “Erzgebirge Mountains”, “The Christmas Room”, “Christmas Tree and Decorations”, “Artists’ Postcards”, “Moulds and Pastries” and “New Year’s Eve” and so on. I have to say it’s rather interesting to learn about the tradition and history of the most important festival of the year considering Christmas wasn’t much celebrated in China (where I was born) until recent years. If you happen to be in Salzburg during Christmas, a visit to this museum and to the nearby Christmas markets on Domplatz and Residenzplaz will surely enhance your festive spirit and experience.

6. Haus der Natur

Opening hours:

  • daily 9:00 – 17:00
  • closed on 25th December

Ticket prices:

  • adults: € 8.5
  • children (4 – 15 years old) € 6
  • Salzburg Card: free
  • for information about other discounts, family pass, annual pass etc. please click here

On the last day in Salzburg, I originally planned two hours for Haus der Natur and one and a half hours for the Stiegl-Brauwelt Brewery Museum. Eventually, I spent all my time here because this “house” is HUGE! In fact, you can easily spend a whole day here and I would say this it is an ideal place for some quality family time. In general, Haus der Natur is a museum about nature and technology and it even includes an aquarium and a reptile zoo! Considering it covers an entire area of 7000 square meters, you might get lost here. For example, I missed my friends several times… Maybe it’s a good idea to tell your children to meet you at certain place if you get separated and can’t find each other? In this chapter, I’ll first of all take you to have a look at the layout of the building and then, I’ll focus on introducing to you the aquarium and the reptile zoo because they interested me the most.

Once you enter the building, you will be on the ground floor and if you go to the basement you will find the cloakroom. First and foremost, it’s important to note that this museum is composed of two buildings, one of which is called the Main Building while the other one is called the Science Building. The former mainly focuses on exhibitions while the latter mainly focuses on interactive stations with which you can do your own research, experiment, explore and discover.

The Main Building consists of five floors (besides the basement) and on the ground floor you can visit the Tibet Show,which shows the Potala Palace and “sky burial”, the Dinosaur Hall, in which you can visit various fossils, and most importantly, the Aquarium (I’ll talk more about it later). On the first floor you can visit an exhibition about earth science and on the second floor you can visit the Space Hall, the Reptile Zoo (I’ll talk more about it later), the Bio laboratory, Lifeline Salzach, European Animal World and so on. On the third floor, you can visit exhibitions dedicated to fables and myths, the Ice Age and Africa, Asia, America, Australia and Arctic. On the fourth floor, you can visit exhibitions dedicated to human beings, pets, insects, oceans and lakes.

The Science Building consists of three floors and all of them are accessible from the Main Building. Around 80 interactive stations are distributed on the three floors based on various themes and both adults and children can have fun here. For example, the science center on the ground floor focuses on energy, the one on the second floor focuses on music – “From Schall to Mozart” and the one on the third floor focuses on mechanic, aerodynamic, mathematics and body and fitness. If you still feel confused, don’t hesitate to contact me and I’ll take a picture of the map and send it to you. Now, please follow me to take a close look at the Aquarium and the Reptile Zoo, which are located on the ground floor and second floor respectively in the Main Building. Personally, they are my favorites in this museum.

6.1 Aquarium

In total, 136000 liters of water is used to fill the breeding and observation tanks, the quarantine and filter systems as well as the 41 display tanks. Of this volume, 30000 liters is fresh water while the other 106000 liters is sea water. I guess now you can imagine how big the aquarium is. This is a perfect place for both adults and children to get acquainted with different waterbodies on earth such as the Mediterranean Sea, the Amazon Region, East Africa, etc. and more importantly, we can learn a lot about different kinds of fish which come from different regions of the world. On the info board close to each of the display tanks, information about the region and its unique plants and fishes is provided both in German and in English. They are written in such a way that children enjoy reading and can easily understand. Have you ever seen or do you know the sex-changing fish wrasse; the toxic and well-fortified scorpionfish and lobster; the sea perch which lives between 30m and 200m under the water surface and in a group, when a male dies, the strongest female turns male; the snipefish which lives between 50m and 350m under the water surface; the brainy predator octopus which can even open a jar to get its food; the beautiful but poisonous lionfish; the highly specialized sand-dweller, spotted garden-eel, which uses its hard pointed tail to dig its burrow and rarely leaves; the electric eel which can produce up to 600 volts of electricity (not here in this aquarium) or the archerfish which hunts for its preys outside the water? Trust me, there are many other fishes which are unique and worth looking for. The best thing about learning about waterbodies and fishes in an aquarium is, different from reading textbooks, that you can see real, live examples and while you are searching for the fishes, their physical characteristics leave a deep impression in your mind.

6.2 Reptile zoo

The reptile zoo, as its name suggests, features turtles, snakes and lizards. From the info board above each of the display booths, you can learn about the name of the specimen shown, where it comes from, whether it’s venomous or not and its habitat, diet and reproduction. For example, Uracoan rattlesnake is highly venomous, it lives in lightly forested savanna, feeds on small mammals and birds and its reproduction method is ovoviviparity. Some other specimens you can see here include the Jesus Christ lizard (as you can see in the last picture above), whose name attracted my attention instantly, the Burmese python, the black mamba, the Indian cobra, the eastern diamondback rattlesnake, and many more. I wanted to take a close look at the Indian cobra but unfortunately it was hiding in the trees and sleeping. In contrast, the Uracoan rattlesnakes were crazy active and by slithering everywhere, they attracted a lot of attention from both adults and children.

7. Stiegl-Brauwelt Brewery Museum

I attempted twice to visit this museum but unfortunately I failed twice. Please note that the opening hours shown on google map probably refer to the opening hours of the shop or restaurant and the opening hours of the museum are:

  • daily 10:00 – 17:00
  • July & August: daily 10:00 – 19:00
  • 24th December: 10:00 – 15:00
  • Closed: 1st – 16th January, 25th and 26th December.
  • (last admission 1 hour before closing)

For information about various ticket types and prices please click here. The admission is included in the Salzburg Card.

Based on the information provided by the tourism office, I’ll give you a brief introduction. Stiegl-Brauwelt is Europe’s biggest brewing museum and in 2015, it celebrated its 20-year anniversary. The Stiegl Brauerei in Salzburg is also the biggest private brewery in Austria and here, the high art of beer brewing has been celebrated since 1492. The museum features a 270° Brewing Cinema, in which unique projection techniques immerse visitors in the production process and the historical Maschinenhaus and the restaurant give guests the opportunity to discover a wide range of Austrian and international beer specialities.

8. Outdoor Museum

With an exhibition area of 50 hectares and a 7 km long network of hiking and walking paths, the Salzburg Outdoor Museum is one of the biggest museums in Austria and one of the biggest of its kind in Europe. Exhibiting almost 100 original historical buildings spanning over six centuries such as farmhouses, a small store, a mill, a smithy and cobbler’s workshop, etc. the museum features an old narrow-gauge railway which takes visitors and runs a distance of 1.7 km through different “regions”.

This is the end of my fourth and last post about Salzburg and I hope that after reading it, you have a better understanding of its history, culture and tradition. I spent in total 3 whole days here and I would say that I visited most of its major attractions. It is absolutely a beautiful and unique city and to appreciate it in a relaxing way, I would recommend a longer stay. For my next visit in the summer, I plan to visit the Hellbrunn Palace with its trick fountains and take the Salzach boat cruise. Maybe I’ll even book a ticket for a concert. If you have any more questions please don’t hesitate to contact me and I’ll try my best to answer them. At last, I wish you a wonderful and meaningful visit to Salzburg.

Salzburg – various museums to help understand the city’s history and culture was last modified: May 5th, 2018 by Dong

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