19– 23 September – Innsbruck (Austria) – Berchtesgaden (Germany)- Salzburg (Austria)
After arriving in Innsbruck, we found our campsite alongside the Inn River.
Innsbruck is the capital city of Tyrol in western Austria and is in the Inn valley between the Austrian Alps. It is around 160 kilometres from Munich.
We once again went on a guided walking tour with a guide from the tourist information centre.
Walking Tour sights:
There is a painting on the wall as a reminder of the point where the road to the south left the walled Old Town Suburb Gated stood until 1765. It was called Suburb Gate because it was here that the street lined with houses outside the town began. This gate was demolished as part of the planned urban regeneration on the occasion of the marriage of the later Emperor Leopold II, which is a shame as there are very limited reminders of the past in Innsbruck.
Gumpp or Munding House consists of three buildings which belonged to the Gumpp family of artists during the 17th century. Since 1803, it has been owned by the Munding family and is the oldest confectionery café in Innsbruck with its own coffee roaster, the first coffee machine which is still in operation today, homemade chocolates, ice-cream and pastry using the original family recipes. It is renowned for its hot chocolate, which the guide said was the best ever! When we walked past there was a beautiful aroma of coffee and freshly baked sweets lingering in the air and a lot of people. The facade is decorated with a mural of St Christopher, the patron saint of travellers, which is quite fitting as this is where the historic crossroads once were.
Golden Roof (Goldenes Dachl) was constructed in the 1500s for Emperor Maximilian I. The very striking roof canopy is made up of 2,738 gilded copper tiles, which is an enormous number of tiles for such a small roof! The lower balconies bear the coat of arms relating to the Emperor’s historical territories and a sculpture with a man and two wives. Emperor Maximilian is portrayed next to his wife of the time who, according to legend, he didn’t love anything like he did his first wife who had passed away, so his first wife also looks out from the relief. Apparently, Emperor Maximilian would watch the jousting tournaments from the balcony.
Underneath, the roof structure is elaborately decorated with a wide variety of small men with twisted limbs. They are morisco dancers, who were essentially the break dancers of the Middle Ages. Some of the figures and images are quite intriguing, which seem to be a thing craftsman did to mark their work in Medieval times.
The City Tower (Stadtturm) is a good 50 years older than the Golden Roof. It was completed in 1450 and after 100 years the onion dome was added. From here the guards in the Middle Ages once kept watch warning citizens of fire and other dangers. The lower storeys once served as a prison.
Cathedral of St. James (Dom Zu St. Jakob)
The cathedral was badly damaged by earthquakes in the 16th and 17th centuries and was rebuilt between 1717 and 1724. It is an important stop on the medieval Christian pilgrimage route, the Camino or Way of St. James.
The interior of the church has all the trappings and decorations of a cathedral. The ceilings and domes have beautiful frescoes which show scenes from the life of St. James, while the main altar is covered with gold and marble and is quite stunning. The highlight of this cathedral is the painting of Madonna and Child in the Alps, which has been copied numerous times throughout the world.
Drainpipes from roof
Along Kiebachgasse, the house front hides a long skinny townhouse and a spacious interior courtyard, which cannot be seen from the street because of the extended roof line. As the roof lines of houses come to a V, a hole in the roof was required to channel the rain and snow melt. The exterior gutters and downspouts in the shape of a funnel collected the water and dispersed it into the street. A very novel way which is still in use today.
The Prechthaus dates from the 15th century and was rebuilt in 1540. From 1639 until 1875 it housed the Wagner’sche court bookshop and the university press. Outside on the wall is an old printing machine.
Innsbrucker Nordkettenbahnen Cable Cars
The best way to get to Innsbruck’s majestic Nordkette mountain range is by the cable car. It takes 20 minutes to get from the bottom to the top by a funicular which travels through a tunnel, then over an imposing bridge across the River Inn and then a gondola to the top. The visual appearance of the lower terminus of the funicular is quite spectacular. It looks like a sleek spaceship.
Innsbruck is a small charming city with an absolutely stunning backdrop, the Nordkette Mountain. The streets of the old town are interspersed with traditional cafes along the cobble stone pedestrianised streets. We walked along the River Inn to enjoy the views on our way back to our campsite.
After leaving Innsbruck we travelled to Berchtesgaden/Obersalzberg and stayed in a carpark about 800 metres from the bus stop to Hitler’s Nest.
Obersalzberg is where Hitler made his home, along with Herman Goering and Martin Borman. High level meetings were held here, and many important decisions affecting the lives of millions were made by Hitler sitting in his mountain retreat, the Berghof.
The Kehlsteinhaus (Hitler’s Eagles Nest)
The Kehlsteinhaus was a birthday present from Martin Borman to Adolf Hitler in 1938. It was paid for by the Nazi Party and during the construction 12 people died.
The bus trip up the mountain of the Bavarian Alps, took around 20 minutes. From here we walked through the tunnel which was completed in 1938 and then into a waiting room. Every official visit to the Kehlstein House was choreographed and the guests waited in this room for access to Kehlsteinhaus elevator.
We then rode the ornate bronze elevator up the final 124 metres to Kehlstein House, Hitler’s Eagles Nest, where Hitler, Eva Braun, Himmler and the rest had banquets and entertained foreign diplomats. The inside of the elevator is polished brass with mirrors and green leather.
The building was never damaged by Allied bombings and is now a restaurant with the original marble fireplace, a gift from Mussolini. Hitler didn’t live at the Eagle’s Nest, he only visited a few times because he suffered from Vertigo, but Eva Braun was often there.
From here we walked along a path which leads to a higher point where you are at eye level with the Alps, with an incredible 360-degree views overlooking both Germany and Austria. When the mist lifted off Lake Königssee, it was even more incredible. The Kehlsteinhaus itself does not mention much about the past, except the construction of the building, due to concerns about neo-Nazis and post war Nazi sympathisers.
We caught the bus back down the mountain and visited the Documentation Centre (Dokumentation Obersalzberg Museum) in order to better understand the mountain’s historical context, especially the so called Fűhrer’s HQ’s at Obersalzberg.
Documentation Centre (Dokumentation Obersalzberg)
The Documentation Centre is a museum which provides historical information on the use of the mountainside retreat by Nazi leaders, especially Hitler who regularly vacationed in this area beginning in 1928. In 1933, upon the Nazi seizure of power, Hitler purchased the Berghof (Mountain House) and a large area was cordoned off and evacuated. The museum sits on the foundation of the Hoher Göll guesthouse.
The extensive museum covers the history of not just the Obersalzberg, but the Third Reich in general, with many photographs, audio clips, films, maps and enthralling documents from the Nazi era. The use of an audio guide was fantastic as many of the recordings and documents were in German.
As part of the entrance fee, after completing the Documentation Centre, we visited the Obersalzberg Bunkers. This bunker system is under the former Platterhof Hotel and consists of an intact bunker system. Even though the bunker system travels through much of the hillside, most of the tunnels are sealed off and inaccessible. It gave a great overview of how extensive the bunker layout is and how they could operate in times of crisis.
This is a great museum which thoroughly put into context the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich, the propaganda campaign, the history of National Socialism and the reign of terror.
We drove about 40 kilometres to our next destination, Salzburg, where we stayed at a campsite 4 kilometres from Salzburg Old Town.
Salzburg is on the banks of the River Salzach, at the northern boundary of the Alps.
After seeing the Sound of Music seven times when I was a small girl, I decided I would revisit my childhood and go on the Original Sound of Music Tour. Ian decided he would stay at the campsite and meet me in town later.
I was picked up by the tour company, dropped off at the meeting point and joined 40 other fellow Sound of Music fans for a four-hour tour of the original filming locations of the life of the von Trapp family.
The shooting locations from the Sound of Music movie:
The gazebo in the gardens of the palace where Rolf and Liesel sang ‘Sixteen Going on Seventeen’. Unfortunately, the gazebo is not the original one but a rebuilt, much smaller one for fans of the movie. The location was not at the Hellbrunn Palace either but at Leopoldskron Palace, but a more accessible one for visitors. This wasn’t looking good for a tour which was supposed to be the film locations.
The path along which Maria danced to meet the von Trapps for the first time.
Its facade, courtyard and front gate were used for the Trapp villa in the film. Maria arrived here after dancing along the path. The Baron tore the flag down from the castle’s doorway when they returned from their honeymoon and heard the German occupation of Austria. They pushed the car noiselessly out of the castle’s gate when they tried to escape. We didn’t stop here, just drove past. Still not impressed with the tour, because all I could see was the Palace between the trees!
Palace of Leopoldskron:
This historical palace and its ground provided many filming locations. The rear view was used for the Trapp family home. The family drank lemonade with the baroness on the terrace. Maria and the Baron danced on the balcony during the ball scene, and the children fell into the lake when returning with Maria when they saw the Baron. The Venetian room from the castle was copied and used as the ballroom for the interior shootings which where done in the studios.
The historical Abbey was used in both the movie and the true story. In real life Maria and the Baron where married here in 1927. The Sound of Music scenes shot here include the opening part where the nuns go to mass and Maria returns late. The performance for the song ‘Maria’ was staged in the courtyard of the Abbey. The children came to the Abbey’s gate to ask Maria to return to their home. The escape scene, with the cars parked outside the Abbey gate, was also shot in the original spot.
Salzburg Lake District
This is the scenery shown at the beginning of the movie and in the panorama shots filmed around Lake Fuschisee and Lake Wolfgangsee.
In a quaint little Austrian village of Mondsee, is the Mondsee Cathedral, was used as the location for the wedding scene. Maria, led by Liesel, walked down the aisle to meet the Baron in front of the main altar, which we also walked down.
Mirabell Palace & Mirabell Garden
In the film, Maria and the children danced around the Pegasus fountain singing ‘Do-Re-Mi’ and then jumped up the stairs leading up to the rose hill and the Baron and Maria sang ‘Something Good’.
The tour was a combination of historical Salzburg and the spectacular Lakes of Fuschisee, Wolfgangsee and Mondsee and the mountain region and the many film locations. I was a little disappointed at first because it was very touristic, but as time went on it became a trip down memory lane. Between stops, the guide shared background stories about the movie and the real Von Trapp family and we sang along and listened to original movie soundtracks. Overall, I had an enjoyable four hours, but was disappointed in the number of times we stopped to have a look.
The next day, we drove to Regensburg in Germany.