That Winter In Salzburg


There’s something in the air in Salzburg, a surreal old-world charm that’s likely imparted by the small Austrian town’s old fortress and numerous historical sites. Or perhaps it was the chilly clime? When I visited Salzburg, it was winter. The season’s tender snowfall and inevitably cuddly weather left me dizzy with the spin of romance.

Then again, that is possibly what Salzburg is best known for – romance, with a drizzle of Hollywood glamour. Famed for being the city where the 1965 hit movie musical The Sound of Music was filmed, Salzburg is synonymous with (motion) picture-perfect sceneries, gilded rooms and hallways so ornate they’re awash with gold, and the majesty of centuries-old castles and manors.

The city is also imbued with the je ne sais quoi of the most fashionable Parisienne. Living legend and fashion demi-god Karl Lagerfeld used the quaint town as inspiration for Chanel’s Metiers d’Art presentation in 2014. For a week, the town was given just that little bit of extra sparkle by the cool kids of fashion and some of the world’s biggest magazine editors.

And then there’s that refined, intellectual air you’ll find around every other corner. Salzburg is the birthplace and hometown of one of the most genius musical minds the world has known, composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It is also the home and birthplace of an annual gathering of some of the world’s foremost intellectuals called the Salzburg Global Seminar.

Finally, there’s Merlin – not the wizard, but a rather magical cat. The resident feline of the Schloss Leopoldskron, Merlin wanders the grounds in search of belly rubs and went so far as to wander into my room to spend the night curled up with me.

Ah, I’ve figured it out now. I know what’s in the air in Salzburg: Pure magic.

The Gate

Photo credit: Tengku Zai

If this looks familiar, that’s because of its starring role in The Sound of Music. Situated at the Schloss Leopoldskron, it overlooks an idyllic lake while the mighty Mount Untersberg looks on.

The Cat

Photo credit: Tengku Zai

Meet Merlin. This fluffy feline just charms the socks off everyone. To be honest, I felt a bit special when he chose to cosy up to me in bed during my stay, but the next day I realised his modus operandi: Look cute, then get loads of love, food and cuddles.

The Maestro

Photo credit: Tengku Zai

Salzburgers love Mozart. As in, they really love Mozart. Not only does the maestro have two museums dedicated to him (at his residence and his birthplace, both close by to each other), but also a town square and a chocolate truffle (Mozart balls) named after him. This here is the Siftung Mozarteum, or Mozart’s Residence, facing the beautiful Hotel Bristol Salzburg, which houses many instruments the renowned composer once owned.

The Drink

Photo credit: Tengku Zai

Even if you generally don’t partake in the occasional tipple or don’t consider beer your poison of choice, the family-run Stiegl brewery is still worth a visit. Salzburgers take great pride in their local beer and have presented it in this state-of-the-art museum. Plus, it’s interesting to see how its made. Fun fact: Salzburg’s water is so clean that it doesn’t require filtering before being used to produce Stiegl beers.

The Love Locks

Photo credit: Tengku Zai

Much like how Paris’s bridges are covered with padlocks like sequins on a dress, the same goes for the bridges in Salzburg. One needn’t even fret if you’ve forgotten to bring your own; just buy one from one of the sellers along the bridge. They’ll also provide markers for you and your lover to pen down your messages of devotion.

The Domes

Photo credit: Tengku Zai

One of the buildings that stands out in Salzburg’s skyline is the DomQuartier. A former residence of the prince-archbishop, this large baroque complex was a symbol of power and richness. What you see on the outside pales in comparison to its stately rooms and halls within. Built just like a palace, the rooms becoming increasingly ornate as you delve deeper. Palaces are designed this way as only people of nobility were granted an audience in certain rooms. The more noble your bloodline or social standing, the more ornate the room.

The Mountain

Photo credit: Tengku Zai

There isn’t much to do up in Mount Untersberg besides take in the breathtaking views and play with pristine, fluffy snow. Believe me, you won’t ask for much more. The peak provides the best views of Salzburg and surprisingly it wasn’t cold, even with all that snow. Take your time, go for a leisurely stroll, and take it all in. This is the mountain that can be spotted from Schloss Leopoldskron, and also the mountain that ‘comes alive’ in The Sound of Music.

Snapshots is our photo essay section, where we ask readers to share a curation of their favourite images to tell the story of their city or a destination they have travelled to. We welcome contributions from readers; if you have a photo story to share, email [email protected] and indicate ‘Snapshots’ in the subject line. Published submissions will receive a token sum from us. 

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Tengku Zai
Going by the nickname Kuzai, the Kelantan native has spent 15 years in the wonderful world of publishing, formerly managing the beauty sections of glossies including ELLE and Harper’s BAZAAR. Now, Kuzai is the Editor of Zafigo. The wannabe runner is also mom to a feisty toddler, suffers from constant wanderlust, and really just works to eat, travel, and shop.