Mirabell Palace with its gardens is part of the Historic Centre of the City of Salzburg UNESCO World Heritage Site. The palace was built about 1606 on the shore of the Salzach river north of the medieval city walls, at the behest of Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich Raitenau. The Archbishop suffered from gout and had a stroke the year before; to evade the narrow streets of the city, he decided to erect a pleasure palace for him and his mistress Salome Alt. Allegedly built within six months according to Italian and French models, it was initially named Altenau Castle.
When Raitenau was deposed and arrested at Hohensalzburg Castle in 1612, his successor Mark Sittich von Hohenems expelled Salome Alt and her family from the premises. Mark Sittich gave the palace its current name from Italian word mirabile ('amazing'). It was rebuilt in a lavish Baroque style from 1721 to 1727, according to plans designed by Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt.
On 1 June 1815 the later King Otto of Greece was born here, while his father, the Wittelsbach crown prince Ludwig I of Bavaria served as stadtholder in the former Electorate of Salzburg. The current Neoclassical appearance dates from about 1818, when the place was restored after a blaze. Archbishop Maximilian Joseph von Tarnóczy resided here from 1851 to 1863. The father of Hans Makart worked here as a chamberlain. Joachim Haspinger (1776-1858), Capuchin priest and a leader of the Tyrolean Rebellion, spent his last year in a small flat.
The palace was purchased by the City of Salzburg in 1866. After World War II it was temporarily used for the mayor's office and housed several departments of the municipal administration.
The Marble Hall of Mirabell Palace is the venue of the Salzburg Palace Concerts, directed by Luz Leskowitz. It is also a popular location for weddings.
The Mirabellgarten was laid out under Prince-Archbishop Johann Ernst von Thun from 1687 according to plans designed by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach. In its geometrically-arranged gardens are mythology-themed statues dating from 1730 and four groups of sculpture, created by Italian sculptor Ottavio Mosto from 1690. It is noted for its boxwood layouts, including a sylvan theater designed between 1704 and 1718. An orangery was added in 1725.
The gardens were made accessible to the public under Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria. Up to today, it is one of the most popular tourists' attraction in Salzburg. Several scenes from The Sound of Music were filmed here.References:
Sirmione castle was built near the end of the 12th century as part of a defensive network surrounding Verona. The castle was maintained and extended first as part of the Veronese protection against their rivals in Milan and later under the control of the Venetian inland empire. The massive fortress is totally surrounded by water and has an inner porch which houses a Roman and Medieval lapidary. From the drawbridge, a staircase leads to the walkways above the walls, providing a marvellous view of the harbour that once sheltered the Scaliger fleet. The doors were fitted with a variety of locking systems, including a drawbridge for horses, carriages and pedestrians, a metal grate and, more recently, double hinged doors. Venice conquered Sirmione in 1405, immediately adopting provisions to render the fortress even more secure, fortifying its outer walls and widening the harbour.
Thanks to its strategical geographical location as a border outpost, Sirmione became a crucial defence and control garrison for the ruling nobles, retaining this function until the 16th century, when its role was taken up by Peschiera del Garda.