Salzburg Day Three // Hellbrunn Palace
I had originally intended to write about Hellbrunn Palace- or Schloss Hellbrunn, to give it its real name- in the same post as climbing the Untersberg but, as it turned out that I had a lot to say about mountain hiking, it will be a lot kinder to anyone reading to write about it seperately. Unless you're into reading 3000-word essays on things to do in Salzburg, in which case hit me up because you are my kinda person!
As I said in my Untersberg post, the number 25 bus route which travels between Salzburg and the mountain passes by both Salzburg Zoo and Hellbrunn Palace. They're both a good 15 minutes outside of the city centre so, if you're planning on visiting the Untersberg, it makes sense to combine the two, or the three if you really want to make a day of it! The bus stops right outside the Hellbrunn Palace with clearly signposted directions to the entrance so it's really easy to find.
Since I was pretty tired from, you know, mountain climbing an' that, I planned to just pop in and have a little look around before getting the bus back. I knew that there was a popular guided tour around the trick fountains but wasn't really in the mood for walking around too much. When I got to the ticket office, however, I found that the guided tour is included with your ticket so figured I might as well see what all the fuss was about. What a great decision that was!
I walked back around the disctinctive yellow walls to the meeting point for the tour and scanned my ticket in the turnstile. Again, because of my Salzburg Card I didn't need to buy a ticket for entry. After waiting five minutes, our guide- a very cheerful guy with a cheeky sense of humour (you have to be a bit mischievous in this job, as you will soon find out!)- appeared and led us through the beautiful palace gardens to a Romanesque theatre, with curved stone seating. I was very grateful for the opportunity to sit down in the shade after my tiring morning, especially as it was a very hot day!
Our guide explained that the palace was built for Markus Sittikus, Salzburg's prince and archbishop in the 17th century. He was fond of entertaining and would often have guests around in the summer. At this point, our guide asked for volunteers to sit on one of the stone stools surrounding the huge central table. A few brave souls stepped forward and assumed a position. We were then told how the prince loved practical jokes and would often surprise his guests... At which point the stools each shot out a jet of water and completely soaked the volunteers perched on top.
The rest of the tour continued in much the same way. We'd be happily marvelling at the mechanical figures powered only by water when the guide would suddenly call out "DANGER! DANGER!". That was our warning that someone was about to get soaked but, as we had no idea where the water jets were positioned, we didn't know who was in the firing line. It was immensely fun! Pure, childish good times, running into complete strangers to huddle out of the water's reach and squealing with surprise. My favourite was the walkway that had a curved water jet on each side, creating an extended arched fountain to walk through. Either that or the faux taxidermy deer that sprayed water out of their antlers! The fact that the technology used to activate the water is the same that was used 400 years ago is mind-boggling. Unlike other guided tours, there were lots of places to sit and rest while the guide spoke. He delivered the tour in both German and English and, judging by the reactions of the German guests to what he said, both elements were identical. The tour lasted around thirty minutes and was one of the highlights of my visit to Salzburg. I'm very glad that I ended up on the tour!
At the end of the tour, he pointed out areas of interest that we may want to visit next, including the white gazebo from The Sound of Music. As it was the other side of the extensive gardens, and I've already visited it on the Sound of Music tour, I decided against going back. Instead, I sat on a bench next to the pond and just enjoyed being in such a serene environment. The colour of the sky and the grass were so vibrant (I swear the colours of nature in Salzburg are far more intense than anywhere in the UK) and I could see the Untersberg peering out over the trees. It was absolutely beautiful. You can visit the gardens and general palace area without a ticket and it would be a wonderful place to just relax on a summer's day.
After around twenty minutes, I headed back towards the palace to see what was inside. Every ticket includes an audio guide to tell you all about the exhibits in your own language, which is handy. Despite the size of the palace, the public areas are quite compact which I enjoyed as it meant I could experience everything without feeling overwhelmed. Just like on the tour, there are lots of places to sit down and take everything in and, even though I'd visited at peak tourist season, it was still quiet. I loved the room with a huge circular sofa that slowly rotated so you could take in the elaborate murals of the wall, with an interactive screen embedded into the arm of the seat with further information. There was also a fantastic room about curios with paintings of fantastical creatures like eight-legged horses and a real taxidermy unicorn. As real as unicorn taxidermy can be, that is...
Once I'd visited the whole museum, I stopped off at the courtyard cafe for a cool drink and some apple strudel. Unfortunately, it turns out wasps really like it when I wear Lush R&B in my hair and the lady at the next table was very amused by my constant swatting. Memo to self: Lay off the R&B next time! On the upside, the strudel was absolutely delicious and in such a beautiful setting too, right next to the palace building itself.
Visiting Schloss Hellbrunn was one of the best things I did during my holiday. I can't wait to go back in December to experience the Christmas Market in the courtyard.
I was very kindly provided with a Salzburg Card but all opinions are my own
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