It was 37°C. Our faces were practically melting off in the unusual summer heatwave across Europe, and we’d already spent the morning climbing via cable car 1,320m up the Untersberg Mountain, so we headed for Hellbrunn Palace with its trick fountains
Hellbrunn Palace is an early Baroque villa of palatial size, near Morzg, a southern district of the city of Salzburg, Austria. It was built in 1613–19 by Markus Sittikus von Hohenems, Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg, and named for the clear spring that supplied it.
It is especially awesome to visit on a hot summer’s day…
The only way to explore the main Palace grounds and fountains is by guided tour, and after hopping on the bus from Salzburg city, we simply rocked up and bought tickets for the next tour. It was a busy day, and we only had to wait about 15 minutes for our tour (which we spent with an ice cream and having a nose around the souvenir shop).
Water automats, grottos, fountains – Markus Sittikus had a system built that astonished, entertained and befuddled his guests. A status symbol and mannerist toy in one.
I shan’t ruin too much of the surprises – just expect the unexpected.
The season starts at the beginning of April and runs until the end of October…
…and I can guarantee squeals of delight, giggling and more amazing creations that you could shake a stick at (though why would you want to?)
Numbering among the figures are Neptune, Orpheus and Venus – the largest grotto is dedicated to Neptune and seahorses guard the entrance. At the foot of the trident is the water-spitting Germaul, Hellbrunn´s secret emblem. The Bird Call Grotto surprises visitors with twittering and one’s senses are deceived in the Mirror Grotto.
Greek mythology also plays a main role in the fountains: we met Eurydice, Neptune, the hunter Actaeon and Goddess of the Hunt Diana – perfectly appropriate to the mannerist spirit of the time.
The gardens are playful, ridiculously clever (it runs solely via water pressure from the stream) and a delight to all of the senses.
“Oh, what a lovely place to retreat to, such grace, such delight. Such a little earthly paradise did I have the luck to see today, hardly an hour from Salzburg…” – DOMINICO GISBERTI c. 1670
Yep, you read that review date correctly – it was a little bit before TripAdvisor.
Once we had finished the tour and let our shaking sides subside from laughter, we grabbed a delectable sorbet and wandered through the sunshine that embued the rest of the extensive grounds.
One of the highlights of our entire trip was this seemingly innocent gazebo. It featured in The Sound of Music – the scene where Liesl (Charmian Carr) tries to convince her crush Rolfe (Daniel Truhitte) that she’s old enough for him with the song “Sixteen Going on Seventeen“.
We were treated to the sweetest serenade of a 13-year-old American girl who knew every single word of the tune. Her Mom videoed as she pranced around the gazebo, in full voice – and she got a full round of applause when she finished.
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