At the heart of the old city is Residenzplatz. This open square is bordered by the Dom (Cathedral), the Residenz Palace and the Neue Residenz . On the north side is a row of medieval burgher houses and St. Michaelskirche. At the centre is the famous Horse Fountain. You can approach the square from either Mozartplatz or Alter Markt.
Prince-Archbishop Wolf Deitrich Raitenau laid out Residenzplatz from 1587 as part of his plans to modernise the city. He grew up in Rome and admired the way how that city was remodelled in the Renaissance and Baroque styles. He demolished 55 medieval houses to make way for the new square together with the removal of a cemetery.
In one of Europe’s dark moments in history Residenz was the location in 1938 for a Nazi book burning. These days it is the venue for the famous Salzburg Christmas Market. In the summer it hosts outdoor cinema and other events. Take a carriage ride around the old town from here.
Facing the Residenz is the Neue Residenz (‘New Residence’) crowned by the famous Carillon which has been chiming since 1702. The Neue Residenz is now the Salzburg Museum which houses precious objects of art and has many exhibition rooms charting the history of Salzburg from the Iron Age up to the present day. One of the main exhibits is the Roman mosaic floor that was discovered under Mozartplatz . Between March and October you are able to have a guided tour of the Carrillon, weather permitting . The view from the top provides a new perspective on the city. Ask at the museum for more details.
Next to the Neue Residenz museum is the Panorama Museum which can be accessed from the Neue Residenz. This houses a round painting 26 metres long painted by J.M. Sattler (1786-1847). Visitors stand in the centre of the painting to look at Salzburg as it was 200 years ago.
In addition to the panorama there are large scale paintings by Hubert Sattler on display. The widely traveled painter captured unusual views of cities and landscapes during the 19th century.
Opening Times: Every day from 9am to 5pm except on 1st November and 24/25 December.
Cost: Entrance fee is €8.50 for adults, €4 for young people between 16 and 25, for children under 16 it is €3.
More Information: salzburgmuseum.at
The Horse Fountain
The Horse Fountain is considered to be the largest Baroque fountain in Central Europe and dates from 1661. It is made from local Untersberg marble. It comprises several sections with the base formed by four horses that surround a central rock covered in marine animals and plants. On the rock, four men carry a large bowl. Within this bowl are three dolphins carrying a second bowl. This is all topped by the figure of a Triton carrying a shell. Note that in the winter the statue is boarded up to protect it from the elements.
It is easy to miss the church as it has been integrated into the building façade of the square so very little of its outer appearance is visible. It is in fact the oldest parish church in Salzburg and served as a palace chapel and parish church up to the 12th century.
There has been a church on the site since at least the year 800 and has belonged to St Peter’s monastery since the Middle Ages.It has been rebuilt many times over the centuries and was remodelled in the baroque style between 1767 and 1776. Worth seeing is the principal altar which features an impressive painting of the Archangel Michael defeating the devil. The altar screen is by Philip Hinterseer and dates from 1770.
On the outside of the church facing the Dom is a plaque remembering the Nazi book burning.
In front of St Michaelskirche is Mozartplatz with the impressive statue of Mozart, Salzburg’s famous son. This was finished in 1842 and was unveiled in the presence of Mozart’s two sons, Karl and Xavier. Mozart’s wife, Constanza, lived in Mozartplatz at number 8 but although she saw the monument being built she died before the unveiling.
During the excavation of the foundations for the monument, a spectacular roman mosaic was discovered. You can see this in the Neue Residenz museum, the entrance is in Mozartplatz.