The Trick Fountains of Hellbrunn Palace near Salzburg

The Trick Fountains of Hellbrunn Palace near Salzburg.

A day-trip for the family

Dr. Birgit Stegbauer

Maybe you would like to use one of the next nice weekends for a trip to Hellbrunn in the vicinity of Salzburg? The world-famous trick fountains are not the only pleasures awaiting you (open daily from April 1st until November 1st, also throughout the holidays). Don't forget to visit the palace, there are free audioguides in many languages. A little footpath leads you to the rock theatre, a natural outdoor theatre carved in a rock, whose stage just invites you to play hide-and-seek. The public part of the Hellbrunn gardens is a popular recreational area for the people of Salzburg, allow plenty of time for the huge playground.

The city of Salzburg has Count Markus Sittikus von Hohenems (1574-1619) to thank for Hellbrunn palace and gardens; he was the Prince-bishop of Salzburg from 1612 until 1619. During long stays in Italy he became familiar with Italian culture and art. He was clearly enthusiastic about the practice common among the higher echelons of the Italian nobility of building villas outside the city walls, the most refined of these having gardens with grottoes and fountains. No wonder then that as soon as he got elected prince-bishop of Salzburg and had enough sinecures to allow him realise his dreams, he started to erect an estate in the Italian style just south of Salzburg.

Markus Sittikus appointed Italian masters to leading positions. It is almost certain that Santino Solari, the architect of the Salzburg Cathedral, also managed the construction of Hellbrunn palace and gardens. We must also mention Fra Arsenio Mascagni, who painted the frescos in the palace. Fra Gioachino, a hydraulic technician, was responsible for the trick fountains. The palace was completed in 1615, after only three years spent on construction. In 1619, the year of Markus Sittikus' death, the trick fountains and the gardens were completed as well.

What these masters have created is a mannerist synthesis of the arts: A refuge for the Prince-bishop and his entourage in their leisure time, a place for festivities and social events, enhanced by grottoes, trick fountains, mechanical theatre and sculptures. Markus Sittikus even had a rock theatre carved into a hill. Just think, this is the place where the first opera to be performed north of the Alps was staged, 'L'Orfeo' of Claudio Monteverdi in 1616!

It's good to know:


The trick fountains can only be visited with a guided tour.

Remember to take raincoats or a change of clothes.

Opening hours daily:

April, October and November: 9 am until 4:30 pm

May, June and September: 9 am until 5:30 pm

July and August: 9 am until 9 pm (last guided tour at 6 pm)

Ticket prices:

9,50 EUR/adults, 4,50 EUR/kids

24 EUR/family ticket

There is a Hellbrunn combined ticket for the Trick Fountains and the Hellbrunn Zoo.

A restaurant is situated at the right side of the palace courtyard (www.gassner-gastronomie.at); there are kiosks for ice cream and refreshments in the area.


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