We arrived at the place on the bikes we rented in the city center of Salzburg. The journey along the Salice River was an experience in itself, and the next adventure awaited us in Hellbrunn itself.
Visitors can use the audio guide service in Czech, but we have live accompaniment. The Renaissance Palace and its surroundings were built in just three years between 1612 and 1615 as the summer residence of the Archbishop of Salzburg. He should rest and have fun here,” said local guide Johanna.
On to Salzburg to one of the oldest Adventist markets. And then to the Alps for skiing
The architect of the building is Santino Solari, who is also signed under the landmark of Salzburg itself, the Cathedral of Saints Rupert and Virgil, also called the Salzburg Cathedral. The client is Archbishop Markus Sittikus of Hohenems. “He was suffering from melancholy, the local water games were supposed to be a distraction for him,” explained our guide.
We learned he was a strong man with a distinctive sense of humor at the first stop in front of a stone table with seating. Johanna shows us how a feast could be held here in the 17th century, and especially at its conclusion. “When being with the Archbishop was no longer enjoyable, he instructed a servant and he started the mechanism,” he said, running it himself. Water starts flowing out of the seat immediately, as there is a hidden nozzle hole in the center.
Not allowed to get up
“If the guests do not wish to be disrespectful, they should not rise from their seats until the archbishop himself rises,” we learn. Needless to say, no water flowed from the host’s chair. In the middle of the table there is an opening for cooling the wine. “All the water here is spring water, it’s an energy-saving refrigerator,” Johanna smiles.
Throughout the area, no expense was spared on sculptural decoration, often with mythological motifs. We see a statue of Orpheus, a musician who tried to bring his dead wife, Eurydice, back to life. “However, the condition is that he must be ahead of him when he exits the underworld and not look back. But in the end, he did just that and lost Eurydice,” says the guide. Besides the singer herself, we can also see statues of lions and mountain goats. “You’ll see these animals more often around here – lions in part from the coat of arms of Salzburg, the mountain goat as the coat of arms of the Hohenems family, from which the archbishop originates,” we listen.
Work for mischief makers
We also stop at another scene from Greek mythology, this time a statue of Perseus with the head of Medusa. However, not all the characters depicted here are noble heroes. “Pay attention to the jesters, who are meant to represent stupidity and vice. The contractor wanted to show that there is not only beauty and harmony in the world,” explains our guide.
Kratochvíle Castle exudes revival at every turn
Next, in a cave, an artificial cave, he shows us how the archbishop answered his critics. “Not everyone liked him. They criticized him because as a representative of the church he had to be humble, and he built an area with water games. He had the answer,” said the guide, using controls on the wall to pour water at us. It starts radiating from the wall and we have to jump quickly.
“In the past, the water was supposed to surprise and entertain visitors, and the same is true today. “We take it from nature and then we give it back, nothing is wasted,” stressed Johanna. He himself is said to sometimes operate this particular mechanism when he wants to “torture” visitors with water and indulge in a little naughty fun.
The cave ceiling somewhere seemed like it would collapse at any moment. Of course, this was another idea of the eccentric archbishop – in fact, the “half-destroyed” ceiling was completely safe and had been built that way. “This should remind you that nothing lasts forever,” explains the guide. Another room is again decorated with mirrors. “In the early 17th century, mirrors were very expensive. Look how much the archbishop placed here to show off his wealth,” Johanna explained to us.
Another illusion awaits us in the cave when we listen to the birds singing. “There are a total of ten birds to listen to. However, all the sounds are created by the whistling system and the forces of air and water,” said our guide and then pointed out the ingenious mechanisms hidden behind the walls. “It’s over four hundred years old and you can hear it still works,” he adds with a smile.
We went outside and stopped at another original detail that many visitors don’t even notice. These are two small turtles standing opposite each other – one lets water out of his mouth, the other catches it with his mouth. It is impossible to tell with the naked eye which turtle has a nozzle filled with running water in its mouth. We will only find out when we put our hands between the turtles and stop the flow of water. In short, the Archbishop wins here.
The guide will surprise us several more times during the tour, when he turns on the hidden nozzle and splashes us with water. However, we soon came to a simple rule – if the pavement was dry before our arrival, there was most likely no water flow and we would be safe.
We will then calmly reach the next attraction, the golden crown. Here, after starting the mechanism, the water flow carries it to a height and holds it there without any problems. However, it was enough to stop the water and the golden crown from falling back down. “This is symbolic again. “People who are currently at the top have to think about the fact that they could fall back down,” explained Johanna.
Telč Castle is accessible all year round
Another local attraction is the mechanical theater. It was created later between 1748 and 1752, has three floors and more than a hundred moving figures. There are butchers who slaughter cows or barbers who work for customers. There is a baroque city with all social classes – characters from the lower strata of society move faster, nobler and more mobile characters can afford to move less. Laws that still apply today.
Currently, local water games are not enjoyed by the archbishop of Salzburg, but are open to the public. Since the beginning of the 19th century, Hellbrunn belonged to the Habsburg dynasty, and in 1922 it was purchased outright by the city of Salzburg.
“Last year we celebrated his centenary, there was dancing and music playing in the park,” recalls guide Johanna. The weather that day showed a sense of humor – heavy rain pelted the celebrating crowd at a venue called Water Games.
|The Salzburg Card allows free travel on public transport, access to cable cars (e.g. to the Untersberg), to museums (including Mozart’s birthplace) and to Hellbrunn for Water Games.|
|Apart from physical cards, you can also buy digital cards online that you can have on your phone. It is valid for 24, 48 or 72 hours at prices 30, 39 and 45 euros, for children aged 6 to 15 years at prices 15, 19.5 and 22.5 euros. More at salzburg.info.|
|This water game is always open from March 31 to November 1, now from 09.30 to 19.00. More at hellburn.at.|
The world’s largest water park is being built in Saudi Arabia. It offers 22 breeds
“Unapologetic social media guru. General reader. Incurable pop culture specialist.”