We had travelled over to Salzburg for a few days to get ourselves into the Christmas spirit with their Christkindl Markt, and decided to extend that theme with a trip to Oberndorf bei Salzburg, the birthplace of the carol Stille Nacht (“Silent Night”).
We walked from our hotel to the Salzburg S-Bahn station and once we had confirmed that Oberndorf could be reached by train it was very simple to get to, on a direct line which took only about 25 minutes to get to the Oberndorf Stadt stop.
We walked into town, passing a war memorial before we spotted a sign for Stille Nacht Platz, which we followed. The route took us along the River Salzach, which provides a border with Germany, and where we were walking is also part of one of a handful of running/walking trails around the town.
As we came to the bend in the river and a metal monument to the philosophical anarchist, Leopold Kohr, we turned right away from the river and went down some steps to Stille Nacht Platz. Stille Nacht was first performed at the former St Nikola parish church by the school master Franz Gruber and the young priest Joseph Mohr on Christmas Eve 1818. The church was demolished and a memorial chapel built on its site in 1937, and we were able to go inside the delightful chapel.
We really should have come in the evening when the lights were on and the Weihnachtsmarkt was running to get the full effect, because we could tell it would be magical.
As we had been walking along the river we had seen some form of shrine up on a hill and had decided to take a closer look, so we came back up to the river path and followed Leopold Kohr Promenade as it went around the bend. This took us to the bottom of steep steps which led up to a striking and somewhat gruesome and graphic Kalvarienberg (a Calvary).
We had a magnificent view looking back towards Oberndorf but we would not be heading back there just yet because we had seen another sign, this time for the Wallfahrtskirche Maria Buhel, the Sanctuary of Our Blessed Lady of the Visitation, a Roman Catholic pilgrimage church in Maria Buhel which dates from 1670. We walked along the Maria Buhel Strasse, between the fields and in the shadow of the mountains as the road gently rose to the striking building. The day had remained dry, fresh and cold, and we were both wearing gloves by now. We passed a shrine and the Friedenslarche, before we reached the church and went inside.
It was breathtaking, but all set behind a locked iron railing, so we could not get a closer look, which was a pity.
We returned to the cold outside and walked back to the river, crossing over the Europasteg bridge, which took us into Laufen in Germany. Which was a little bit strange because we had not brought our passports with us.
This split was a result of the Napoleonic Wars when the former Principality of the Salzburg Archbishops was divided following the Congress of Vienna into a part taken by the Kingdom of Bavaria and a part taken by the Austrian Empire. We could not help but notice the Klosterkirche St Peter as it dominated the skyline, and we went inside to find another stunning interior.
They were just in the process of putting up their nativity scene as we arrived. When we came out it had started to snow, just very lightly but enough to make the morning complete. We walked up to the very grand Salzachbruke bridge, built in 1902/03 and crossed back into Oberndorf and Austria, to catch the train back to Salzburg.
It had been a wonderful way to spend the morning.
You can see more of my photographs from the outing here.