Having travelled to a number of European cities, my favourite old town would have to be that of Salzburg, Austria. It is one of the most enchanting and magical old towns that you will find; each square has something interesting to offer and there is a truly wonderful, joyful and calm atmosphere across it (even during the busiest of times of the day).
You can travel through Salzburg's Old Town by foot, bicycle or horse and carriage and I have to recommend that you travel by the latter option. In this article, I am only going to give you an introduction to some of my favourite squares and how they connect; I’d rather not reveal everything so that you can truly enjoy and be surprised during the horse and carriage ride, if you opt to experience it.
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Hear the horses’ hooves on the cobblestone streets
Traveling by horse and carriage means that you can see so much of Salzburg within a short period of time and this is great if you're only in Salzburg for a few days. A horse and carriage ride will offer you the perfect introduction to the Old Town and thereby allowing you the opportunity to explore specific areas that you enjoyed the most afterwards. There is also something quite magical about hearing the horses’ hooves on the city's cobblestone streets as you're passing through the sites.
In 1997, Salzburg's Old Town was included on the UNESCO list of World Cultural Heritage Sites and a horse and carriage ride will give you the opportunity to see so many of the beautiful squares that make up the Old Town. Such squares include the Residenzplatz, Domplatz, Kapitelplatz, Mozartplatz, Alter Markt, Universitaetsplatz, Herbert-von-Karajan-Platz and many more incredible sites.
Depart from the famous Residenzplatz
All horse and carriage rides depart from the famous Residenzplatz. The horses and carriages are lined up behind the Residence Fountain, which is a beautiful marble baroque fountain that was created by Tommaso di Garona between 1656 and 1661. Alongside and around the fountain is the old and new residential palaces of the former archbishops. This is a perfect location upon which to depart on a horse and carriage tour from because of the Residence Fountain as it consists of sculptures of horses sprouting out of a stone.
One of the first sites that you will see from the horse and carriage is Domplatz, home to the Salzburg Cathedral, which is the exact cathedral in which composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was baptized. It is quite the striking cathedral with its copper dome and twin spires and it feels quite wonderful to pass it in a horse and carriage.
Being dazzled in Kapitelplatz by Sphaera
Following on from Domplatz, you will find yourself being whisked through to Kapitelplatz. Kapitelplatz houses all major musical and artistic events and includes some stand-out items such as an oversized chess board with life sized pieces! It also has a sculpture called Sphaera, which was added in 2007 and consists of a 30-foot (9 metres) tall golden globe with a man standing on the top. Amongst the exquisite architecture, including the view of Hohensalzburg (the fortress) and its proximity to St. Peter's Cemetery, this sculpture really makes its mark in an unusual way as locals and guests wonder what the sculpture represents.
Is Sphaera of a businessman, in his formal attire, standing on top of a golden globe that represents the world, and is he standing there and enjoying the view? Alternatively, is Sphaera working too hard that he fails to stop and appreciate the beauty around him and therefore this sculpture has been created to tell passers by to take a moment out of their busy days and enjoy the wonder that surrounds them? Enjoy formulating your own view whilst you sit in your horse and carriage with the Salzburg sunshine beaming on the golden globe and the warmness of the sun being felt on your skin as you pass by.
Sit back and be whisked from one square to another
Once you have passed through Domplatz, you will find yourself in the musical Mozartplatz and of course, being named after the famous Mozart, the centre of this square has a statue of him. There is a great vibe to this square, as you can hear some new and upcoming musicians who are circling Mozart's statue whilst playing their instruments. If you have some free time after your horse and carriage ride, this is a great place in which to watch the world go by as you sit and relax in one of the cafes including the out-door café of the Salzburg Museum.
As Mozartplatz is one of the smaller squares in the Old Town, you will be whisked through it relatively quickly, so do keep your camera ready to catch some snaps. After Mozartplatz, you will find yourself traveling through the Alter Markt, which was the old marketplace and boasts some beautiful houses that date back to the Middle Ages. Following on from this, you will pass by the Universitaetsplatz, which is home to the weekly farmers’ market; lovers of food and drink will certainly see plenty of delicious culinary specialities around this market, including cheese and pretzels. I would advise that you eat before any such horse and carriage ride otherwise you might find yourself getting rather hungry as you pass by the farmers’ market.
Herbert-von-Karajan-Platz and the "Sound of Music"
From the hustle and bustle of Universitaetsplatz, your horse and carriage will subsequently pass through to the quieter Herbert-von-Karajan-Platz, which includes a magnificent Horse Pond. The Horse Pond was designed and built in 1963 by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach whilst the royal stables were being built. In Herbert-von-Karajan-Platz, the famous scene and song, "My Favourite Things" in The Sound of Music movie was filmed. So if you're a fan of this film, you will certainly enjoy the horse and carriage tour around Salzburg, which is the destination where the movie was shot.
After passing through the beautiful Universitaetsplatz, your horse and carriage ride will also whisk you from the enchanting Old Town to Salzburg's New Town, which is a real plus as you will get the opportunity to cross one of the beautiful bridges and see the Salzach River. Now if you're experiencing the horse and carriage ride in the late afternoon and early evening, then you will get a really romantic vibe when crossing and passing by the Salzach River with the green mountains in the background and the magnificent scenery that is Salzburg.
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Discover the delights of Salzburg in style
A horse and carriage ride for approximately 45 minutes (including not only the Old Town but a part of the New Town) costs 90 EUR (approximately 98 USD) for a maximum of 4 persons. With such a cost, you have to decide whether a horse and carriage ride in Salzburg is worth it. Some people love such tours whilst others feel they are overpriced; I am in the former category.
I feel that traveling in a horse and carriage is such a traditional and beautiful way to be transported around a historical and monumental area. With Salzburg's Old Town being a UNESCO listed landmark, the only way to really see each and every square and street in the best way possible is by a horse and carriage ride.