Salzburg: rich in history, culture – and bicycles

IMG_7747I spent Easter weekend in the lovely city of Salzburg, Austria – Mozart’s birthplace, the setting for the Sound of Music and famous for its ancient Hohensalzburg Castle dominating over the city. With a four-day holiday weekend for Easter, it seemed like the perfect getaway. Besides, we were trying to escape the unseasonably cold spring in the Netherlands; however, on Easter weekend it snowed in Salzburg! Still, as a mountain girl, while I love Amsterdam I need to experience some elevation change from time to time, so we enjoyed the mountain air and the views (only visible on the first day, as it were) and a quick weekend getaway.

IMG_0296Salzburg (population 150,000) is an ancient city with roots dating to the Neolithic Age. The first proper settlements are thought to be of Celtic origin around the 5th century BC. Circa 15 BC, the Romans united the loosely defined communities of the Salzach River, and it has been a population centre ever since.  Salzburg means ‘Salt Castle’ named IMG_7784after the salt mines in the region and the river barges that carried this precious commodity. The city has evolved and expanded since, as a centre of trade and travel. It was an important seat in the Austria-Hungarian Empire and played a role in Europe’s great wars (WWI & WWII). Its history and culture are rich and complex and I won’t pretend to be an expert on the matter.  Still we enjoyed the city’s cultural undertones, Easter traditions, its architecture, parks and green spaces – and like many European cities – its blossoming bicycle infrastructure. I would love to go back another time, perhaps when it is warmer to enjoy a bit of hiking or biking, all close to the urban core!

Here are a few of my favorite urban observations… (Or as Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music would say… “These are a few of my favourite things…”) 😉

Culture & tradition

Milking the 'Sound of Music' vibe for all it's worth...
Milking the ‘Sound of Music’ vibe for all it’s worth…
Another Salzburg tradition: enjoying a Mozart-inspired string quartet
Culture city: enjoying a Mozart-inspired string quartet
This was great: a musical board that children can jump around on to play a tune - definetly a Mozart-inspired city!
Culture city: a musical board that children can jump around on to play a tune – Mozart’s roots are strong in Salzburg!
Traditional clothes are proudly worn around Easter time - spotted in many of Salzburg's public market squares and walking streets
Cruising the pedestrian streets in style: Traditional clothes are proudly worn around Easter time – spotted in many of Salzburg’s public spaces
No Easter weekend visit would be complete without a visit from the Easter Bunny - and yes, they gave us Easter eggs!!
No Easter weekend visit would be complete without a visit from the Easter Bunny – and yes, they gave us Easter eggs bringing smiles despite the spring snow!!

Bikes, buses & public transport

Arriving at Salzburg main station, the bike racks are full...
Arriving at Salzburg main station, the bike racks are full…
Safety first: clearly seperate bike lanes can be found throughout the city and near the river
Safety first: clearly separate bike lanes can be found throughout the city and near the river. Other (shared) bike lanes are clearly marked for cars & buses.
Safety first: a helmet-wearing cyclist locks her bike by the Salz River
Safety first: a helmet-wearing cyclist locks her bike by the Salzach River
Happy cyclists along the river
Happy cyclists along the river… I feel the same way when I ride my bike!
Historic (and narrow) buildings and tunnels are no barrier for the modern public transport system...
Historic (and narrow) buildings and tunnels are no barrier for Salzburg’s modern public transport system…
Is it a bus? Is it a train? Or is it a bus-train? Either way, Salzburg's buses run on electricity
Is it a bus? Is it a train? Or is it a bus-train? Either way, Salzburg’s buses run on electricity. Reminded me a bit of the Onion’s spoof on Obama’s high-speed buses… 🙂
Weather-proof waiting: Weather is unpredicable in this mountain city... so bus shelters have wide roofs to provide plenty of shelter for waiting passengers
Weather-proof waiting: Weather is unpredictable in this mountain city… so bus shelters have wide roofs to provide plenty of shelter for waiting passengers
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