June 4, 2010
Salzburg is forever smiling to the tunes of Mozart. Mozartplatz honors this great composer with a statue right here in the greatest Baroque city north of the Alps. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart spent much of his first 25 years in Salzburg. The Mozart statue sits on bits of Roman Salzburg. The pink Church of St. Michael that overlooks the square dates from 800 AD. The very first Salzburgers settled right around here.
Important buildings have ringed Residenzplatz ever since it was first a Roman forum. Today they still do. Salzburg’s energetic Prince and Archbishop Wolf Dietrich who ruled between 1587 and 1612 was raised in Rome, counted the Medicis as his friends, and had grandiose Italian ambitions for Salzburg. After a fire destroyed the cathedral, he set about building Salzburg as the “Rome of the North”. This square, with its new cathedral and palace, was the centerpiece of his Baroque dream city. The fountain in the center of Residenzplatz is as Italian as can be, with a Triton matching Bernini’s famous Triton Fountain in Rome.
The new residence is the former palace that Prince and Archbishop Wolf Dietrich built. Today it houses the central post office and the Salzburg Panorama 1829 exhibit and museum. The famous glockenspiel rings atop the new Residenz throughout the day, playing tunes at various times during each day. This bell tower has 35 17th century bells which were cast in Antwerp. Long ago, tourists could go to the top of the tower to see the big barrel with adjustable tabs turn like a giant music-box, pulling the right bells in the right rhythm. The ornamental top is an upside down heart in flames surrounding the solar system. This symbolizes that God loves all of creation.
In Kapitelplatz, there is an enormous chessboard, a golden orb with a castle gazer on top, and a waterwheel. The man on top of the golden orb is trying to decide whether to walk up or shell out 10 Euros to take the funicular. Every year since 2002, a foundation has commissioned a different artist to create a new work of art to display in the square. The golden orb is from 2008. The small pond was a horse bath in the 18th century.
The puzzle above it weaves the date of the structure into a phrase. It says, Leopold the Prince Built Me” using the letters LLDVICMXVXI, which total to 1732 in Roman numerals, which was the year it was built. The waterwheel is part of a canal system that has brought water into Salzburg from Berchtesgaden in Germany, 16 miles away, since the 13th century. The stream, divided from here into smaller canals, was channeled through town to provide fire protection, to flush out the streets, and to power the factories.
The Toscanini Hof square faces the 1925 Festival Hall. The hall’s three theaters seat about 5000 people. Remember the Sound of Music? This is the square where Captain von Trapp nervously waited before walking onstage to sing “Edleweiss” while all the Nazis were watching him to make sure he and his family wouldn’t try to escape.
Video from our visit: