Mirabell palace is another example of Salzburg‘s baroque architecture, which is surrounded by beautiful gardens and completely free to visit. Its origins lie in a love story, as it was built in 1606 by Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich Raitenau as a pleasure palace, where he could spend time with his mistress Salome Alt. The pair had wanted to marry, but they were never allowed to due to his clerical position, so they had to keep their affair discreet.
The palace was originally built for a much adored woman and it shows, as it is full of soft shapes, beautiful details and has a distinctly romantic vibe, if you like that sort of a thing. It is considered one of the most romantic places in Austria and is a very popular wedding venue. However, even if you are not attending a wedding, it is a gorgeous place to visit and stroll through the various parts of the gardens, such as the Orangery, the Rose garden, the Dwarf garden and the Hedge theater.
Mirabell palace and gardens
The name comes from the Italian female name Mirabell, meaning both beautiful and admirable, although the original name was Altenau palace. The palace was renamed and rebuilt in the 18th century by the next Prince-Archbishop, Markus Sittikus, the same man who also built the Hellbrunn palace. It has later undergone some other design changes and the current Neoclassical look dates back to 1818, when it was restored after a large fire. The Pegasus fountain in front of the palace was also added in 1913, complementing the various unicorn and lion marble statues.
The interior of the palace is where the romantic allure comes from, as the lavish baroque white Marble hall is among the most desired wedding venues in the world, where lots of famous couples got married. The Angel staircase, which leads up to the hall, is another beautiful (and overdone) example of baroque architecture at its finest, with lots of fat cherubs and golden details.
The Marble hall and the Angel staircase
The gardens were also redesigned in 1690 by another archbishop, Johann Ernst von Thun, who expanded them and added what I personally thought was the best part of the entire palace, the Dwarf garden. There were originally 28 cheeky and, quite frankly, ugly marble dwarf statues, each with their own role. There were 12 for every month of the year, 2 players of Pallone (the Renaissance game with a ball and a bat), as well as some others, serving as amusing caricatures of the times. The dwarfs were banned from Salzburg during the Enlightenment period and sold off, so the full set has never been recovered. However, 15 of them are now back home, with 2 of the months missing – February and November. Since my birthday is in November, I decided to temporarily become the November dwarf and you can see the my dwarf impersonation in the photos below. How did I do? 🙂
The Dwarf garden