How is it that visitors to the DomQuartier also get to marvel at the contents of a cow’s stomach? What on earth is the “droplet train”? And what goes on during spring cleaning inside the ice cave? In this article we reveal all kinds of secrets about Salzburg’s most popular excursion destinations.
Hohensalzburg Fortress: How the Droplet Train got its name
Today, only very few residents still remember that the fortress funicular used to be powered by water back in the olden days. Hence the affectionate nickname Tröpferlbahn (i.e. “droplet train” in English) given to it by the Salzburg locals. In fact, the name couldn’t have been more apropos: In order to operate the funicular, water was first pumped from the Almkanal all the way up to the fortress, then used to fill the carriages of the funicular that was standing at the top. As soon as the required weight of water had been added, the funicular would trundle down to the valley and simultaneously haul its counterpart, to which it was attached by means of a cable, to the top of the mountain. Albeit an ingenious system, it did have a few disadvantages as well, including the fact that the funicular couldn’t operate in winter. As a consequence, in 1959 the Tröpferlbahn was replaced by a funicular that ran on electricity. Notwithstanding, the views which passengers get to enjoy during the ride are as wonderful as ever.
Kaprun High Mountain Reservoirs: A regular guest on four paws
Every summer, thousands of visitors from around the world come to Kaprun in order to admire these imposing reservoirs in the high Alps. Not all of them, however, are bipeds. You see, one particular loyal guest is actually a fox by the name of Alois. At some point, this sly quadruped, an inhabitant of the Kaprun mountain world, realized that the terrace and kiosk were a great source of delicious edibles. He actually uses his front paws to pull himself up the outside of trash cans, then hangs there headfirst scrounging for goodies. Alois has even been caught up to his usual winter tricks on a webcam. And he is also the inspiration for Stromi, the cute little mascot you will encounter along the Kids’ Path.
Kassa: Kesselfallstraße 98
DomQuartier Salzburg: Good taste is a matter of taste
Do you know what a bezoar is? If not, you are in very good company. Bezoars, or gastroliths, are rock-hard clumps frequently found in the stomachs of animals such as cows or deer. Numerous examples of which just happen to be on display at the DomQuartier in the archbishops’ Chamber of Curiosities. Oddly enough, in former times these gastrointestinal stones were believed to have healing properties and even the ability to protect against poisoning. So it was that the aristocrats would grate a dusting of these bezoars on top of their food before eating or soak chains of bezoars in their wine. Yummy!
Residenzplatz 1/Domplatz 1a
Salzburg Open-Air Museum: Methuselah of the Lungau
Around the globe, practically everyone associates 1492 with the discovery of America. In Salzburg, on the other hand, virtually every child learns that 1492 was the year when the Stiegl brewery was founded. Which leads us to a particular source of pride for the Salzburg Open-Air Museum: The oldest building on the grounds of this beautiful museum is even older than that. We are talking about the Hauserl-Stadel, which was originally built in the Salzburger Lungau region back in 1442, meaning that it was already standing proud when the conquistadors began exploring the Americas and the Salzburgers had yet to make the acquaintance of their beloved brew. We can only hope that the people of the Lungau at that time had another reliable source to meet their beery needs.
Hellbrunn Palace & Trick Fountains: The “Rote Elektrische”
If ever you hear the folks in Salzburg complaining, it’s generally about the weather or the traffic. The current hot topic is an extension of the regional railway line into the heart of the city. But something people often forget: Salzburg used to have a tram. A steam railway opened in 1886, which was ultimately intended to run from the city center via Hellbrunn out in the direction of the Untersberg. Later, in 1909, it would be electrified and aptly became known as the “Rote Elektrische”. Today, the No. 25 bus runs to Hellbrunn. Unlike most of the other city buses, however, it is not powered by electricity from overhead cables.
Grossglockner High Alpine Road: Not for the faint of heart
To this very day, the construction of the Grossglockner High Alpine Road in the 1920s is regarded as a masterful technological feat. No wonder that so many people longed to visit this scenic road. However, because privately owned automobiles were very much the exception back then, they used to operate a public bus instead, the Glockner Bus. Only the best and most experienced drivers were chosen since driving the buses of that time up a steep, winding mountain road was most definitely not for the faint-hearted. As of the 1950s, they began to use the iconic vehicles which also permitted them to open a retractable roof in nice weather. Public bus service finally ended in 2012. Though the Glockner Bus itself still exists.
Taxenbacher Fusch 96
5672 Fusch a.d. Großglocknerstraße
Krimml Worlds of Water: Take a deep breath
What a magnificent natural spectacle it is when, in Krimml, the highest waterfalls in Europe plunge thunderously down to the valley below. Perhaps a lesser-known fact: These cascades of water are also a popular place for people to treat their allergy symptoms. You see, the finely nebulized mists kicked up by the waterfall are essentially a natural form of asthma spray. That said, at the foot of the falls you will find a therapy site where health-conscious guests are able to relax and do their daily breathing exercises. Hohe Tauern Health is the name of the health offer whose effectiveness has been verified in multiple clinical studies. You can learn even more fascinating facts about the impressive powers of water thanks to an exhibition entitled “The Faces of Water”.
World of Ice Giants in Werfen: Spring cleaning with a twist
Located in the Pongau region of Salzburg province is the world’s biggest ice cave, known as the Werfen World of Ice Giants. Before they get to open their doors in springtime, they first have to clean up the roughly one-kilometer-long length of the caves which is accessible to visitors. But we are not talking about trash or food scraps. No, during their special version of spring cleaning they actually spruce up the ice itself. Deep inside the mountain, employees work with brooms and mops to remove dust and debris from the ice formations. No easy task, also requiring them to work with crampons and ropes. But afterwards, the cave is radiant once again and ready for its first visitors of the season.
Hohenwerfen Castle: Salzburg Hollywood Export
Hohenwerfen Castle isn’t only a popular excursion destination for families, you might also claim it is Salzburg’s most famous Hollywood star. After all, you can see it right there in the beloved movie musical “The Sound of Music” as well as the action classic “Where Eagles Dare”. Much to the joy of the locals who, in the 1950s and 60s, were regularly treated to visits by world-famous stars. Even today, the castle regularly serves as an imposing backdrop, for example for the Amazon series “The Man in the High Castle”, for the computer game “Call of Duty” or, most recently of all, the film adaptation of “The Magic Flute”. An exhibition inside the castle is dedicated to the history of Hohenwerfen in film.
Salzwelten Salzburg: Just like Indiana Jones
All the way back in Celtic times, salt was already being mined in the Dürrnberg outside Hallein. Later, this “white gold” would become the foundation of Salzburg’s riches, shaping the city skyline to this very day. Surprisingly perhaps, the history of this particular salt mine as a tourism attraction began in the 17th century. Though visits to the salt caves were a little rougher and readier then than they are today: The seven subterranean slides could only be negotiated with the help of an experienced cave guide who, outfitted with leather straps and ropes, also served as the indispensable brakeman. But not to worry: Today’s salt mine is most definitely an attraction for the whole family and the only sounds you hear coming from those miners’ slides, rather than cries of fear, are shrieks of pure joy.
5422 Bad Dürrnberg
Mauterndorf Castle Adventure: Historical entanglements
Mauterndorf Castle has experienced a lot in its long history. The fact that we are able to admire it in its full magnificence today is due to a military doctor who bought it in 1894 and saved it from falling into total disrepair. A Catholic with Jewish roots, Epenstein was also the godfather of subsequent Nazi criminal Hermann Göring, bequeathing the castle to his godchild upon his death. Not until 1966 did ownership of the castle transfer to the Republic of Austria. Today, a fascinating exhibition serves as a reminder of that particular chapter of the castle’s history.