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Salzburg: Architectural Highlights

If cities had a sense of taste, Salzburg would certainly be sweet. This is not only because Salzburg’s most famous delicacy, the Mozartkugel, is made of the finest of nougat and marzipan; it is also and above all because of the fairytale charm of the Baroque city. Salzburg also impresses with its modern architectural counterpoints.

 © Østrigs Turistbureau/Susser Feit

The narrow and winding streets of Salzburg’s historic centre, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is where one really senses the charm of a cultural metropolis. This is particularly true of Getreidegasse, where the birthplace of Salzburg’s most famous son, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, is located.

Among the peculiarities typical of the city of Salzburg are the so-called "Durchhäuser": old passageways through buildings that one can use as a sort of shortcut. These passages are also a convenient way to reach the city’s main cathedral, the Salzburger Dom, and the splendid Domplatz, where the annual performances of Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s "Everyman" are held as part of the Salzburg Festival, the social high point of the city’s summer cultural calendar.

Perched majestically above the city on the Mönchsberg is the Hohensalzburg fortress, Central Europe’s largest fully preserved castle. While the Museum der Moderne Mönchsberg occupies an equally lofty position on the hill, its contemporary design offers a stark architectural contrast to the fortress. Thus a mere glance at the Mönchsberg suffices to recognize the symbiosis of tradition and modernity omnipresent in this city: on the one side the fortress as a superb example of medieval building history and on the other the museum representing modern architecture with its clear, simple forms.

A dream destination for any romantic

Sooner or later on your visit to Salzburg you will pass by one of Europe’s most enchanting palaces:

Mirabell Palace, with its grand Marble Hall – considered one of the world’s most beautiful wedding venues – is a dream destination for the romantically inclined. The breathtaking lakeside setting of Leopoldskron Palace, on the other hand, made it famous all over the world: several scenes for the musical "The Sound of Music" were filmed here. And anyone who experiences the palace and its peerless ambience will understand why.

Gigantic "wing" of steel and glass

Only a few hundred metres from this romantic location one enters a completely different world: the ultramodern and spectacular "Hangar-7", a prestige project of Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz. This hangar is more than just an exhibition area for historic aircraft and other aviation-elated objects: the exterior resembles a gigantic wing that – in spite of its 1,200 tons of steel and 380 tons of special glass – gives the impression of being remarkably dynamic and virtually weightless. Inside, the hangar’s stunning arched ceiling stretches above an extensive exhibition that impressively combines technology, art and entertainment.

Although it is not easy to pull yourself away from the city of Salzburg, it is worthwhile to explore the countryside as well. Less than a thirty-minute drive away is the charming city of Hallein, whose picturesque winding streets, lovely squares architecture in Salzburg and meticulously renovated buildings represent an absolute gem of medieval architecture. At the fascinating Keltenmuseum one can learn all about the remarkable history of salt mining.

Architectural highlights in Salzburg’s mountains

There are plenty of architectural treats to discover in Salzburg’s mountains as well: at the time of its opening at the beginning of the twentieth century, the Grand Hotel de l’Europe in Bad Gastein was among the largest and most modern hotels in Austro-Hungary and one of the few luxury hotels of that period. The building still exudes the nostalgic charm of that epoch. A completely different kind of ambience awaits visitors to the St. Martin Chalet Resort in Salzburg’s Lungau region: these trim little chalets were designed in traditional Alpine style with a great deal of attention to detail. Each of the wooden chalets is set in the middle of its own garden, where vegetables, fruit and herbs grow in the summer. This is further evidence that, whether you are in the city of Salzburg or Salzburg province, an architectural tour can always be combined with the splendor of the area’s natural surrounding.