Saturday, July 18, 2009

Salzburg, Austria

The Other Sound of Music in Beautiful Salzburg, Austria

We have visited Salzburg, Austria on a number of occasions and always see things missed the time before. Many people of renown have lived in the city and its history and beauty add to the luster of the place.

The city is located on the banks of the Salzach river, at the northern boundary of the Alps. The closest alpine peak - the 1972meter high Untersberg - is only a few kilometers from the city center. About 100 kilometers on the distance side of the mountain is the famous Eagle's Nest well known as Hitler's retreat in nearby Berchtesgaden, Germany.

The inner city, or old town Salzburg, is dominated by its baroque towers and many churches. The city is approximately 150kilometers east of Munich, Germany and 300km west of Vienna, Austria.

The first settlements at Salzburg were apparently begun by the Celts. Around 15 BC the separate settlements were merged into one city by the Romans. At this time the city was called Juvavum and was awarded the status of a Roman municipium in 45 AD. Around this time, first records of Jewish settlers appear.

In 1077 a fortress was constructed under the order of Archduke Gebhard called The Festung or Hohensalzburg Fortress and stills guards the city with its very presence.

The mightiest fortress of central Europe, a powerful castle sitting in a prominent position, undoubted Salzburg’s prime attraction and most dominant feature of the city’s skyline. The lights from the sun or evening express a beauty unequaled as it appears to guard the city.

Salz is the German word for salt, making the name literally mean "Salt castle". A variant English form of the name is 'Saltsburg'. The town's river was a main artery for transporting salt mined in nearby mountains.

The city has had its periods of discomfort. It was in the winter of 1731, the 214th Anniversary of Martin Luther's launching the Reformation by nailing his 95 Theses of Contention to the Wittenberg Church door, an Edict of Expulsion declaring that all Protestants recant their beliefs or be banished. More than 21,475 local citizens professed on a public list their Protestant beliefs.

Land owners were given three months to sell their lands and leave. Non-owner farmers, tradesmen, laborers and miners were given only 8 days to sell what they could and leave. The first refugees marched north through the Alps in desperately cold temperatures and snow storms. Goethe wrote the poem Hermann and Dorothea about the Salzburg exiles' march. Protestants and even some non-protestants were horrified at the cruelty of their expulsion in winter, and the courage they had shown by not renouncing their faith.

Finally, in 1732 Lutheran King Frederick William I of Prussia accepted 12,000 Salzburger Protestant emigrants, who settled in areas of East Prussia that had been devastated by the plague twenty years before. Their new homelands were located in what today is northeastern Poland, the Kaliningrad Oblast, and Lithuania. Other, smaller groups made their way to the Banat region of modern Romania, to what is now Slovakia, to areas near Berlin and Hannover in Germany, and to the Netherlands.

But not all was European because on March 12, 1734, a small group of about sixty exiles from Salzburg who had traveled to London arrived in the American colony of Georgia seeking religious freedom. Later in that year they were joined by a second group, and by 1741 a total of approximately 150 of the Salzburg exiles had founded the town of Ebenezer, Georgia on the Savannah River, about twenty five miles north of the city of Savannah. Other German speaking families - mostly Swiss Germans, Palatines and Swabians - also joined the Salzburgers at Ebenezer. In time, all of these Germanic people became known as "Salzburgers"

In 1803, Salzburg became politically a part of Austria, and so it remains to this day.

In 1965, the movie The Sound of Music was filmed in Salzburg and area. The movie was based on the true story of Maria von Trapp, a Salzburg-based nun who took up with an aristocratic family and fled German occupation. Although the film is relatively unknown to Austrians, the town draws a large percentage of visitors who wish to relive the movie by visiting the filming locations. After the exit of the von Trapp’s, the family later takes residence and her offspring maintain a resort near Stowe, Vermont where she is buried.

Besides the von Trapp’s, the city boast many notable citizens, namely the famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart who was born and raised in Salzburg. His house of birth and residence are popular attractions. The church where he wrote many of his songs is one of the leading places to visit while there. As we entered it we could seemingly hear the ringing of his music from the walls of this glorious church.

Another that has affected the weather forecasters of the world was Christian Doppler, an expert on acoustic theory, was also born in Salzburg. He is most renowned for his discovery of the Doppler Effect. Josef Mohr was born in Salzburg and together with Franz Gruber; he composed and wrote the text for Silent Night. These are a few we Americans would have heard of.

Located in the beautiful Alps, Salzburg was a candidate city for the 2006 and 2010 Olympic Winter Games. It lost out to the city of Torino, Italy and Vancouver, Canada.

The visit to this area always reminds me that I must flavor the world with His Love.

Matthew 5:13
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt has lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

Matthew 5:14
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.

It is a wonderful place to visit as one views the surrounding and culture of the area. The only place that beats this city is the place we call home.

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