Austria | Salzburg

Salzburg Revisited: Mirabell Gardens

By on May 28, 2013
Wisteria by the entrance and sidewalk

Salzburg Revisited: Mirabell Gardens in this post. Last summer’s visit at the magical Mirabell Gardens was a rather sweet but short affair. There were still so many things we could have seen but wasn’t able to because of time constraints. So for this trip, I saw to it that we could go around a bit more, and we did. It was a lovely time too as the wisteria at the garden was truly at its most beautiful!

It’s a magical garden, one would definitely say. Not to mention, the Sound of Music  being filmed here added to the charm that has made it popular through the years, making it also a part of the Historic Centre of the City of Salzburg UNESCO World Heritage Site.. Just like last year, the sun was giving, weather is alright! But unlike last year, we were able to go around and at the back of the palace. There was the famous steps where the family Von Trapp lead by Maria (Julie Andrews) sang Do Re Mi and there’s also the Pegasus statue which can be seen as part of that same song routine.

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Austria | Salzburg

Salzburg Revisited: Hellbrunn Palace/Museum

By on May 26, 2013

Charming, that’s how I’d define the Hellbrunn tour. The Wasserspiele stint was a really fun experience and I thought that it’s just all. So we went out into the back garden of the palace (Ziergarten) after the games. What I didn’t expect would be seeing two opposite scenery perfectly complementing each other. It’s like looking to your left and all you see is spring, there would be the blue skies and cotton candy clouds, lush greenery and perfectly placed flowers in different colors.  It’s like looking to your right and summer is saying hello, almost like inviting you to jump into the pond – that after the long and bitter winter we’ve gone through.

spell summer!

It’s unfortunate that we were’nt able to explore what’s behind those trimmed bushes. I saw what seemed to be a tower peeking out of the greens (below photo, right). If I’m not mistaken, it would be the Monatsschlössl – translates to Month Palace – a Folklore Museum holding Salzburg’s folk culture and other traditional mementos of the city. It was named so as legend says it was made within a month’s time.

There were 2 unicorn sculptures at the garden said to have been erected in 1700. They still stand there today, along with 2 obelisks, proud and mighty by a path that leads back to the villa.

unicorn and museum
Unicorn on the left of the small path and the Monatsschlössl peeking out


Looking at the facade, who would think this villa is 400-years-old? Built between 1613-1619 under the rule of Markus Sittikus von Hohenems, Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg  near Morzg, south of Salzburg. Hellbrunn means clear spring (hell = clear/light, Brunnen = fountain, well), thus the palace was named after the clear body of water at the palace grounds.

The rectangular court still holds festivities seasonally with the adjacent building now serving either as a chapel and the other,  restaurant. A double-sided staircase welcomes visitors to the mansion’s entry hall. Below this staircase is a grotto designed by Italian architect Santino Solari, the same architect who designed the interior dome of the Salzburg Cathedral.

side and entrance to the museum


asymmetrical windows

To date, the three-storey mansion houses a museum, with the furniture, paintings and other things as old as antiquity preserved and displayed for those curious as how life might have been back then. But, the mansion is actually a day residence so there were no bedrooms whatsoever. The Archbishop and his contemporaries mostly held parties and games and would go back to Salzburg in the evening, thus, the lack of sleeping quarters.

painting and heater
happy kid with his audio guide device, stove or heater maybe

Left, you can see how this little companion of ours (my son) was so behaved at listening to the audio guide device, intently so and keenly looked at the paintings with much interest. (Must take after me – I once dreamt of becoming a curator too ^_^). Right, I’m not so sure now if it’s a stove or heater, its intricate design so impressive, made me forget (lol).

As with other palaces in Vienna, the interior has been well kept as the valuable it holds. Most outstanding would be the Festsaal or ballroom/party hall. It is painted on the walls (presumably by Arsenio Mascagni, an Italian painter)  with fully rich allegorical representations  extending to a vaulted ceiling.

ballroom, old castle
reminds me of the Louvre

While touring around, I can’t help but look out the windows. Out of curiosity perhaps, I clearly saw how the mansion was strategically placed within a spacious ornamental garden and a landscape with a magnificent view. Below, you can see the courtyard, called Ehrenhof or court of honor, with a pavilion stretching out as far as the eye can see down to a lush green and up the mountains.

paintings and furniture
inside looking out (going for a stained glass photo effect hihi)

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Austria | Salzburg

Salzburg Revisited, Watergames at the Hellbrunn Palace

By on May 22, 2013

Salzburg; being the 4th largest city in Austria, it is quite impossible to see the grandeur of this alpine urban in seven hours. But, that’s what we did last summer, got mere seven hours of walking and gawking at the scenery, taking in what our eyes and memory could in a short span of time. It was still enjoyable although everyone were silently screaming “more”!

So when one of my lovely neighbors asked if I would like to join a party of travellers who will visit Salzburg, I didn’t hesitate. It’s also a good thing considering that a visiting friend who is always on the go would be able to tour with us, it’s like hitting two birds with one stone.


Arriving at 10:30, we (about 50 people, 3 kids included) made our way through the grounds of the Baroque Villa, Hellbrunn Palace. We toured around the famous Wasserspiele (water games, Jeux d’Eau, giochi d’acqua) installations established by Bishop Markus Sittikus, nephew of then prince-archbishop of Salzburg Wolf Dietrich. Sittikus is also described as a man full of humor, thus, the villa has been installed with lots of geometrically designed ponds, fountains (seen and trick ones), figures made mobile by water and a lot of hidden needles spewing water when they please. The grounds are full of grottos, statues of Neptune, the Roman god of freshwater and the sea along with his minions. – Rightfully so as the park/villa never seem to get dry.

Upon entry, sturgeon, trout and other kinds of fish welcome visitors in a clear pool streaming down to a theatrum. Visitors are invited to seat by it, which is a wall structure decorated with pebble mosaics with a statue of Victoria, the Roman goddess of victory at the center. Technically, it’s called Steintheater (Stone theater), it is the oldest open-air theater or stage in Europe.

a closer look at the theatrum

Our very welcoming tour guide explained a bit about the water installations, citing that during its heydays, there were a lot of drunken bouts and festivities in the palace that the visitors need to cool down. They are brought to a stone table surrounded by stone chairs. Our guide dared us to sit down for a demonstration (sorry no photos for this as I’m not sure if participants are willing to have their photos published outside of…facebook! ^_^).

In a matter of minutes, volunteers were wet and screaming – sprayed upon by hidden water needles.

hellbrunn villa fountain
Without and with water sprays

The tour took less than an hour and some of us were wet to our toes – trying hard to stay away from the tricks the guide would pull out from his sleeves. The mini-figures depicting medieval belief and lifestyle are curious pieces.

Suffice to say, the watergames at Hellbrunn Palace were educational as well as fun. Rarely would you get out dry, and it could mean either you didn’t play well or you were wearing a raincoat!

*Special thanks to the Barangay Center who made this trip possible.

Neptune and stalactites in an inner chamber
Floating crown and sprays 🙂
A family by the pond at the garden

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Austria | Salzburg

Love Padlocks

By on September 20, 2012

You’ve probably seen such rails, walls or lamp posts with padlocks somewhere else; in a distant city or at the bridge a few steps from where you live. It could be much more than what’s pictured above or there could be totally no place to put on another. No matter, these padlocks of love  are everywhere and represent couples, travelling together (though not always) – fastening their love for each other.

lovelocks, Love Padlocks
Still starting to fill up – Salzburg bridge

I don’t really know how it started but that’s supposedly the idea behind the locking but yes you’ll see them in Paris, Tokyo, Budapest, Pecs, Rome, in Taiwan and in this case, Salzburg. The couples would place their lock then either throw away the keys – so that there’s no way those locks could be opened – signifying staying together always or they could deposit it somewhere…but what if they come back and decide to call it quits? Hopefully not!

love padlocks, locks of love
I think red and blue are standouts.

To make these padlocks more personal, couples write down their names or initials before locking them in. Personally, I think it’s sweet but many would say that it’s just defiling what is supposedly a free from junk surrounding. Though it’s probably a city’s local officials that would get annoyed with this practice. So much so that some have purposely built iron trees for this purpose.

There are also superstitions following the love padlocks attachment…to which I of course just shrug my shoulders. What matters is, there are two people in love who decided to join others in that state to declare their love with the help of such metal security device as…the padlock.

locks, handcuff
Fancy a handcuff?


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Austria | Salzburg

Salzburg’s Version of the Cycle Rickshaw

By on September 10, 2012

I’m all for something new. When traveling, I am awed by the sights, I get enamored by the picturesque, I get enchanted with the bizarre and I would probably try the extreme if I’m not a born scaredy cat. But what I do most when traveling is look for what’s familiar, whatever would remind me of home. You might say that’s impossible, Asia and Europe are very dissimilar what could I perhaps find? Well, here’s one – I found Salzburg’s version of the Pedicab or cycle rickshaw or bike taxi.


Being a small-scale means of transport, these tricycles are only meant for touring. Unlike in Asian countries where it functions as a means to transport goods and passengers. In Salzburg, it is only a means of entertainment. You get to tour around the historical city (or part of) in a personal pedal-driven sort of carriage. ^_^

Did I try it? No, cheapskate me would rather walk than spend a precious 19€ for a 20-25 minute ride. Other price ranges include 39€ for 35-45 minutes, 45€ for 40-50 minutes and 55€ for a full hour.

Looking closely, this rickshaw has a different make than the usual ones I see. The bike/driver seat is behind the passenger seat when I’m used to those where the passenger seats are located beside the driver. Such design makes it easier for the passenger to see everything as there are no distractions in front or beside them. There are of course a lot more different designs and there are even those that are electrically-powered.

Viennese #rickshaw #tricycle
Viennese #rickshaw

So how do rickshaws look in your part of the world? I’m really curious. Here’s how we roll in Vienna, rickshaw style:

rickshaw tricycle
red, Germany has these too as most in the region

And this is how a tricycle in a far-flung town in the Philippines would be like…well, not always but, for the sake of posterity here’s how a fully-packed tricycle looks.


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Austria | Salzburg

Mirabell Palace and Gardens in Salzburg

By on September 6, 2012

What’s more appropriate to do in Salzburg than visit the special locations it’s famous for? Aside from being the birthplace of music genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Salzburg became known for the film musical The Sound of Music which brought us the songs “Edelweiss“, “My Favorite Things”, “Climb Ev’ry Mountain”, “Do-Re-Mi”, “Sixteen Going on Seventeen”, and “The Lonely Goatherd.”

Salzburg tourism capitalizes on this fact and many tours were arranged for visitors to exclusively see the locations that were highlighted in the movie. Such tours start by the Mirabell Palace which explains why there are buses parked outside. The Mirabell Gardens and Palace was one of the area where Maria and the kids were seen singing a handful times.

We opted to go impromptu, walking as we please. Since we arrived a little later than expected (travel from Vienna took almost 3 hours),  we immediately started exploring not minding the tour offers.

papageno fountain salzburg
(Entrance, little boy and Papageno fountain behind him)
Mirabell Palace and Gardens in Salzburg 1
(carefully laid out flowering plants, Hohensalzburg fortress at the background)


From the entrance, one can already get a feel of how impressive the geometrically-arranged Mirabell garden would be.

Passing through a small landscaped garden, one would be welcomed into a bigger lawn. Flower beds carefully laid out, walls covered with vines, benches here and there, Roman statues and stone flower vases lined up, fountain features and an arbor to walk through when the scorching sun is up – enchanted the photobug in me.

Mirabell Palace and Gardens in Salzburg 2
(Palace side garden, horse statue)
mirabell gardens
(arbor (side of) and passageway going to the museum)


The palace is comparably small to other palaces and castles we’ve been to. Perhaps, that was just an impression since we never got in to explore. :/ (I truly blame us having arrived so late.) But, as most palaces in Austria, the Mirabell is of Baroque style.

The Marble Hall of the Palace is the venue of the “Salzburg Palace Concerts” and is also a popular  wedding venue.

Baroque museum by the garden
(Baroque museum by the garden)
garden view
(garden and arbor seen from the second floor of the Salzburg Baroque Museum)
mirabell salzburg fountain
Play shots


We were able to visit the the Salzburg Baroque museum which was at the southern wing of the orangerie. It was relatively small, 2 storeys but they have awesome sketches that the kids and I were able to view hurriedly.

Taking photos was prohibited  so I just took photos from inside – of the view outside the window. The museum holds drawings and paintings by Rubens, Bernini and Algardi. There are also Cortona, the local hero Rottmayr, Altomonte, Tiepolo, the Guardis, and Maulbertsch among others.

Art enthusiasts would be happy going about and savor each on display, as mentioned the museum is “small,” so you have enough time to gawk around.


Mirabell Palace and Gardens in Salzburg 3
(fountain at the middle of the garden)
Mirabell Palace and Gardens in Salzburg 4
(Back shot)
Mirabell Palace and Gardens in Salzburg 5
(Customary group shot. We were visiting along with a friend, a writer of a Philippine newspaper (I do hope he wrote niceties about Salzburg and Vienna).
Mirabell Palace and Gardens in Salzburg 6
(garden exit)

If you’ve watched the Sound of Music, you’re definitely familiar with the scenes here, if not, go ahead and squeeze it into your schedule… It’s never too late to watch a classic Julie Andrews film, you’ll probably find yourself singing to one of its catchy tunes.

Mirabell Palace and Gardens in Salzburg
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