Six years ago today I was in Salzburg, Austria. There aren’t too many countries in Europe more scenic than Austria and the city of Salzburg is definitely worth a visit, even with the hordes of tourists that descend upon it every year. Long ago Salzburg was a commercial center in the salt trade and its name literally translates to “salt fortress.” The historic core of the city is full of baroque architecture, largely due to several ambitious prince-archbishops who ruled Salzburg and sought to replicate the grand structures of Italy within their city. Salzburg is also the birthplace and childhood home of famed composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and regularly hosts live performances of his work, making it a popular destination for fans of classical music. Personally, I came to Salzburg primarily to see the historic old city and was not disappointed in what I found. Like Austria in general, Salzburg is a beautiful city. It never quite achieved the size or grandeur of Rome, but the prince-archbishops certainly made a good effort at making Salzburg the “Rome of the North.” The churches, palaces, squares, gardens, and fountains were all masterfully crafted and thanks to Salzburg’s political independence the city mostly avoided the wars that ravaged Europe in the 16th and 17th Centuries and became quite prosperous.

In addition to all the fine architecture, I remember also being intrigued by the way Salzburg does graveyards. There are a few small graveyards in the old city and the tombs are covered in well-maintained flowerbeds. It’s a strangely beautiful sight, though the downside is that plots in the graveyard are rented, so if you run out of friends or relatives to pay the rental fee and keep the flowers tidy then your tomb gets dug up and someone else gets put in your spot.

High above the old city is Salzburg’s castle, one of the strongest in Europe and one of the last places I visited before leaving Salzburg. You can ride a funicular up to it but I chose to hike instead and found that it actually wasn’t that tough to get up there on foot. The castle has commanding views of both the city and the surrounding countryside, especially if you get up to the top of one of the towers. If you have extra time after visiting the castle, I’d suggest walking the trails along the hill to get more views of the city. Along the way you’ll probably find the spot where I took this photo. One day I’d like to come back to Salzburg and capture this shot again, though with a nicer camera than the little point-and-shoot camera I had brought with me on the 2012 journey.

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