‘Rome of the North’
Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Salzburg boasts some of the most opulent architecture in all of Austria – designed by many of the great architects of the Baroque era. Hugely inspired by Italian designs, the style of the buildings are similarly grand and elaborate to the epic façades seen in Rome.
Begin at Chapter Square, the spacious piazza beneath the dramatic Fortress on top of the hill, where locals can be seen mingling and playing oversized chess. Chapter fountain, modeled on Italian designs, is the first Baroque landmark you’ll see – adorned with horses and figures, including the god Neptune, who is blowing water from his mouth.
From Chapter Square, head just around the corner to Domplatz, the city’s main square, where you’ll find the magnificent Salzburg Cathedral. The impressive structure, first erected in 767, is a striking example of incredible work from the Early Baroque era. The façade, made using Untersberg marble, contains various statues of the Saints, including Rupert and Virgil, and the interior contains countless treasures, including a bronze baptismal font.
Salzburg Cathedral, Domplatz, Salzburg, Austria, +43 662 80477950
Decorative ceiling of Salzburg Cathedral | © John Mason / Flickr
From the cathedral, head north on Domplatz and hop across the river to Café Sacher for a quick break before you head to your next site. This historical café is in keeping with the traditional theme of the tour. Decked out in decor similar to Viennese coffee houses, Café Sacher will transport you back in time. You can sample many traditional Austrian dishes here, including Wiener schnitzel, apple strudel, and, of course, the decadent Sachertorte – the dreamy chocolate cake.
Hotel Sacher, Schwarzstraße 5-7, Salzburg, Austria, +43 662 88977
The Mirabell Palace Gardens
One you’ve refueled, head up the road to The Mirabell Palace – the next Baroque highlight of the city. Here, you get the advantage of enjoying Baroque features in an outdoor setting, as the gardens on the grounds of the Palace are elegantly designed in the style from the era. Among the highlights in this impressively stately stretch of land are the Orangery palm house, the exquisite Pegasus Fountain, and the ‘hedge theater,’ which acts as a stage for various events in the summertime.
Mirabell Palace, Mirabellplatz, Salzburg, Austria, +43 662 80720
St Markus Kirche
Once you’ve taken in the splendor of the Palace Gardens, head back across the river to St Mark’s Church, or St Markus Kirche as it is known to locals. This Baroque masterpiece was commissioned by Archbishop Johann Ernst von Thun and designed by renowned architect Fischer von Erlach – the brain behind many other churches in the city. Although the exterior of the church is relatively modest – adorned with statues of the Saints – the interior is a breathtaking blend of wooden carvings, delicately decorated stucco and multicolored frescoes depicting scenes such as St Ursula in heaven.
St Mark’s Church, Franz-Josef-Kai 21, Salzburg, Austria, +43 662 842590
Now work your way back towards where you started your tour, for a well-deserved drink at Restaurant Stieglkeller, where you can sit outside on the terrace and watch the sun go down and admire some of the sites in the distance.