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.
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.
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.