The Old Town lies between the left bank of the Salzach River and the ridge known as the Mönchsberg, which rises to a height of 503m (1,650 ft.) and is the site of Salzburg's casino. The main street of the Old Town is Getreidegasse, a narrow thoroughfare lined with five- and six-story burghers' buildings. Most of the houses along the street date from the 17th and 18th centuries. Mozart was born at no. 9. Many of the houses display lacy-looking wrought-iron signs over carved windows.
You might begin your explorations at Mozartplatz, with its outdoor cafes. From here you can walk to the even more expansive Residenzplatz, where torchlight dancing is staged every year, along with outdoor performances.
In Mozart's Footsteps
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg on January 27, 1756, son of an overly managerial father, Leopold Mozart, whose controlling power he eventually fled. Amadeus was a child prodigy, writing musical notes at the age of 4, before he could even shape the letters of the alphabet. By the time he'd reached the ripe old age of 6, he was performing at the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna before assembled royalty and aristocrats.
For a time he pleased the audiences of Vienna, but he once complained that the audiences in his hometown of Salzburg were rather wooden and no more responsive than "tables and chairs." Ironically, while Salzburg today pays great tribute to Mozart -- many merchants live solely off his reputation -- he was not appreciated here in his lifetime and often struggled to make ends meet. In spite of the success of The Magic Flute in 1791, his career ended in obscurity.
Mozart's image is everywhere in Salzburg. In the heart of town, Mozartplatz bears his name, with a statue of the composer erected in 1842, the first recognition of his birth he'd received in the town since his death.
A music academy in Salzburg is named after Mozart, and, of course, his music dominates the Salzburg Festival. Too bad he couldn't have been more honored during his lifetime. He died in Vienna on December 5, 1791, and the body of the 35-year-old musical genius was carried in a pauper's hearse to a common grave in the cemetery of Vienna's St. Marx. Today, if his grave site had been better marked, it would be a world-class memorial.
You can visit Mozart Geburtshaus (Birthplace), Getreidegasse 9 (tel. 0662/844313; www.gasthofschorn.at). He lived here until he was 17 -- that is, when he was in Salzburg at all and wasn't touring such cities as Prague or Vienna. There are three floors of exhibition rooms, which include the Mozart family apartment. The main treasures are the valuable paintings (such as the well-known oil painting Mozart and the Piano, left unfinished by Joseph Lange) and the original instruments: the violin Mozart used as a child, his concert violin, and his viola, fortepiano, and clavichord. It's open daily from 9am to 6pm. Admission is 5.50€ ($8.80) for adults and 1.50€ ($2.40) for children.
You can also visit the restored Mozart Wohnhaus, Makartplatz 8 (tel. 0662/87422740), where the composer lived from 1773 to 1780. Damaged in World War II air raids, the house reopened in 1996, honoring the year of Mozart's 240th birthday. In 1773, the Mozart family vacated the cramped quarters of Mozart's birthplace for this haunt on Makartplatz. In the rooms of these former apartments, a museum documents the history of the house, life, and work of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. There's a mechanized audio tour in six languages with musical samples. The museum is open June to September daily 9am to 5pm and October to May daily 9am to 6pm. Admission is 6.50€ ($10) for adults, 5.50€ ($8.80) for students, and 1.50€ ($2.40) for children.
Mozart aficionados will want to stop by the International Mozarteum Foundation's Mozart Audio & Film Museum, Makartplatz 8 (tel. 0662/883454). Here is a collection of 11,000 audio and 1,000 video titles, all concerned with Mozart's compositions. There are also sections devoted to the work of contemporary Salzburg composers. You can watch and listen to eight video and 10 audio stations, and there's a large-scale screen for groups. The museum, which is free, is open Monday, Tuesday, and Friday 9am to 1pm and Wednesday and Thursday 1 to 5pm.
You have to make an appointment to visit the Mozarteum, Schwarzstrasse 26 (tel. 0662/8894030). This is the center of the International Mozarteum Foundation, an edifice in Munich Jugendstil architecture, built from 1910 to 1914. The jewel on the second floor is the library -- a Bibliotheca Mozartiana -- with approximately 12,000 titles devoted to Mozart. The Viennese Hall seats 200 people and provides an intimate atmosphere for concerts and conferences. The wing at Schwarzstrasse 28 houses the larger concert hall, where up to 800 guests enjoy concerts held throughout the year. The highlight is the celebratory festival Mozartwoche, which commemorates Mozart's birthday (Jan 27) with 10 days of concerts and operas. It's open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.
In the garden stands the Magic Flute House, a little wood structure in which Mozart composed The Magic Flute in 1791. It was shipped here from the Naschmarkt in Vienna. In 1971, the Mozarteum was designated as the College of Music and the Performing Arts.
Mozart Cycle Path
A new cycle path, named for hometown boy Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, now runs from the city of Salzburg through the Salzburg Lake District and on to Bavaria and its lakes, such as Ciemsee, before ending at Berchtesgaden, near Hitler's former vacation retreat. The route stretches more than 410km (255 miles) and is primarily flat, with just a few hills along the way. It's ideal for families. Salzburg tourist offices will provide trail maps.
Especially for Kids
Of all the attractions we've reviewed, those that children will most like include the Glockenspiel, Hohensalzburg Fortress, Mönchsberg, and, on the outskirts, the Hellbrunn Zoo. Kids will also enjoy the Salzburger Marionetten Theater.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.