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Step in to Christmas; 48 HOURS IN Salzburg.


THERE'S nowhere quite like Salzburg to get that wonderful Christmassy feeling. With its crisp cold Alpine air, with the snow settled on its church domes and castle turrets, it looks like a seasonal theme park... except here it's all real.

This is is one of Europe's prettiest cities, yet it's compact and easy to stroll around as you discover tiny squares and cobbled back alleyways.

You step out of your hotel to be greeted by the smell of mulled wine, roasting chestnuts and trays of toasted almonds - all very tempting as you head for one of the many Christmas markets which spring into action this month.

The Austrian city has a strong musical connection with the celebrations too, thanks to a near-calamity on Christmas Eve 1818 in the nearby village of Oberndorf.

The church organ broke down minutes before midnight and Josef Mohr, the assistant pastor, had to improvise a simple song that could be sung along to a guitar. The result was Silent Night - the most recorded song in history.

Music and Salzburg - which is the birthplace of classical composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - go hand-in-hand.

He may have died a pauper aged only 41 but today there's a whole Mozart industry. As well as excellent museums and concerts throughout the year, and musicians playing his familiar melodies on street corners, there's scarcely a box of chocolates or bottle of wine without his face on it.

In 1964 Salzburg took another starring role with the release of the hugely successful film The Sound of Music. Although Austrians never took to the movie, fans from across the world still flock to the city and surrounding hillside to see where the more-or-less true story of the Von Trapp family was filmed. There's a guided mini-bus tour of the film's locations too.

In the spring and early summer the hillsides are a mass of colourful wildflowers. Austrians love the great outdoors so these hills are covered by footpaths which are ideal for walks. For the less energetic, there are elevators to whizz you up even higher for some magnificent views across the city.

But the best way of seeing Salzburg is to visit the Hohensalzburg Fortress. You can either walk up the zig-zag route, which takes 15 minutes or take the lovely funicular railway from Kapitelplatz in the city (pounds 3.50 return, which includes entrance to the fortress).

If all this exercise is making you thirsty, stop for tea in the centre of the city at the atmospheric Cafe Tomasselli on Alt Markt and try some its mouth-watering pastries and cakes.


Mozart's Birthplace (Gebburtshaus, open Sept-June 9am-5.30pm, July and Aug 9am-7pm. pounds 3.). This is where Mozart lived for his first 17 years and you can see the famous mini violin he used as a toddler and portraits of the musician with his sister.

Hohensalzburg Fortress A 40-minute tour (pounds 2) covers scary torture chambers, the look-out tower and impressive state rooms - plus two museums featuring WWII photos.

A Mozart concert or opera. The tourist office on Mozart Platz will have listings and tickets. At the Marionette Theatre in Schwarzstrasse 24 string puppets perform Mozart operas - tickets from the tourist office.

Salzburg Christmas Market outside Hellbrunn Castle runs until December 24 and has daily carol singing - along with hundreds of stalls selling anything from gingerbread hearts to toys, decorations and festive gifts.


NO-ONE goes hungry in Austria. The meals are huge and are usually based on meat dishes and soups such as Knolauchsuppe, a delicious strong garlic and cream soup.

Many of the most attractive restaurants are in charming medieval townhouses and lots of them offer good-value set menu meals.

Soho (Steingasse 61) is an atmospheric candle-lit restaurant with an excellent menu. It's also a good place to meet up for drinks. Dishes from pounds 7.

Stadtkrug (Linzergasse 20) is a popular barrel vault restaurant, serving favourites such as Wiener-Schnitzel. Set menus from pounds 6.


Goldener Hirsch (Getriedegasse 37. Tel: 0043 662 80840). Pushing the boat out? This five-star deluxe hotel is one of the best in the city. It's a highly attractive 15th Century building that feels like an elegant private house. Just seconds away from Mozart's birthplace. Doubles from pounds 170.

Golden Krone (Linzergasse 48. Tel: 0043 662 872300) is a three-star friendly family-run hotel. Doubles from pounds 45.


Travelscene (0870 777 4445) have two nights B&B at the Vier Jahrezeiten - a small friendly central hotel - for pounds 301pp. (Dec) and pounds 305 pp (Jan- March). Includes scheduled flights and transfers.


Ryanair ( fly daily from Stansted to Salzburg. Check website for current bargain fares.

Salzburg Tourist Office, Mozart Platz 5 (0043 662 889 87330, Open 9am-6pm.

The Salzburg Card offers admission to all main museums and sights plus free use of public transport - pounds 12 for 24 hours, pounds 16 for 48 hours.

The Austrian Tourist Board in the UK is based at 14 Cork Street, London W1X 1PF. Tel: 0207 629 0461.

Also see The Rough Guide to Austria (Penguin, pounds 10.99)


Mozart souvenirs are everywhere in the composer's native city; Salzburg, overlooked by the mighty Hohensalzburg Fortress, is grand and imposing - and especially beautiful in the winter snow
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Copyright 2003 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 14, 2003
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