- CHRISTMAS IN AUSTRIA -

Salzburg Part 1

LINKS to other pages in the 'Christmas in Austria' site and to the Travelling Days series:

1 : Welcome to Austria
2 : Schloss Hotel Rosenegg
3 : Fieberbrunn
4 : Salzburg
5 : Innsbruck
6 : Kitzbühel
7 : Rattenburg
8 : Austrian Countryside etc.

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SALZBURG is the fourth-largest city in Austria and the capital of the federal state of Salzburg.

Salzburg's "Old Town" with its world famous baroque architecture is one of the best-preserved city centers in the German-speaking world and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. The city is noted for its Alpine setting. It is the birthplace of Mozart (The house in which he was born is pictured below) and the setting for parts of the musical and film 'The Sound of Music'.

“Mozart’s Birthplace” is the house where Leopold Mozart and his wife, Anna Maria Walburga, lived for 26 years, beginning in 1747. It was here that Nannerl and Wolfgang were born. With their move to the present-day “Mozart’s Residence” on Hannibalplatz on the right bank of the river Salzach in 1773, the Mozart family could finally flee the medieval confinement of the apartment in the Getreidegasse. The ample apartment with eight rooms offered sufficient space for social gatherings with families who were friends of the Mozarts.

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Views of the old town, with shops displaying local Christmas 'delicacies' and streets decorated for Christmas (left and below)

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A History of Salzburg, edited and condensed from 'Wikipedia':
Traces of human settlements have been found in the area, dating to the Neolithic Age; probably it was later a Celt camp. Starting from 15 BCE, the small communities were grouped into a single town, which was named by the Romans as Juvavum. A 'municipium' dating from 45 CE it became one of the most important cities in the province of Noricum.

Juvavum declined sharply after the collapse of the Norican frontier, such that by the late 7th century it had become a "near ruin".

A record of the life of Saint Rupert credits that saint with the city's rebirth. When Theodo of Bavaria asked Rupert to become bishop c. 700, Rupert reconnoitered the river for the site of his basilica. Rupert chose Juvavum, ordained priests, and annexed the local manor and named the city "Salzburg".

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On October 31, 1731, the 214th anniversary of Martin Luther's nailing of his Ninety Five Theses to the Wittenberg School door, Roman Catholic Archbishop Count Leopold Anton von Firmian signed his Edict of Expulsion declaring that all Protestants recant their non-Catholic beliefs or be banished.Archbishop von Firmian declared that it was to be read publicly November 11, 1731, the 248th anniversary of Luther's baptism. Believing that his edict would drive away just a few hundred troublesome 'infidels' living in the hills around the town, Von Firmian was surprised when 21,475 citizens professed on a public list their Protestant beliefs.

Landowners were given three months to sell their lands and leave. Cattle, sheep, furniture and land all had to be dumped in the market, and the Salzburgers received very little money from the well-to-do Catholic allies of Von Firmian.

Von Firmian himself confiscated much of their land for his own family, and ordered all Protestant books and Bibles burned. Many children aged 12 and under were seized to be raised as Roman Catholics. Yet those who owned land benefitted from one key advantage: the three-month deadline delayed their departure until after the worst of winter.

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Non-owner farmers, tradesmen, laborers and miners were given only 8 days to sell what they could and leave. The first refugees marched north through the Alps in desperately cold temperatures and snow storms, seeking shelter in the few cities of Germany controlled by Protestant Princes, while their children walked or rode on wooden wagons loaded with baggage.

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As they went, the exiles' savings were quickly drained away as they were set upon by highwaymen, who seized taxes, tolls and payment for protection by soldiers from robbers. The story of their plight spread quickly as their columns marched north. Goethe wrote the poem Hermann and Dorothea about the Salzburg exiles' march. Protestants and even some Catholics were horrified at the cruelty of their expulsion in winter, and the courage they had shown by not renouncing their faith. Slowly at first, they came upon towns that welcomed them and offered them aid. But there was no place where such a large number of refugees could settle. Finally, in 1732 Lutheran King Frederick William I of Prussia accepted 12,000 Salzburger Protestant emigrants, who settled in areas of East Prussia that had been devastated by the plague twenty years before. Their new homelands were located in what today is northeastern Poland, the Kaliningrad Oblast, and Lithuania. Other, smaller groups made their way to the Banat region of modern Romania, to what is now Slovakia, to areas near Berlin and Hannover in Germany, and to the Netherlands. Another small group made its way to Debrecen (Hungary).


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On March 12, 1734, a small group of about sixty exiles from Salzburg who had traveled to London arrived in the British American colony of Georgia seeking religious freedom. Later in that year, they were joined by a second group, and, by 1741, a total of approximately 150 of the Salzburg exiles had founded the town of Ebenezer on the Savannah River, about twenty-five miles north of the city of Savannah. Other German-speaking families – mostly Swiss Germans, Palatines and Swabians – also joined the Salzburgers at Ebenezer. In time, all of these Germanic people became known as "Salzburgers".

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