The Trick Fountains of Hellbrunn Palace near Salzburg

A day trip for the family


Birgit Stegbauer


Maybe you would like to spend one of the next few weekends visiting Hellbrunn in the vicinity of Salzburg? The world-famous trick fountains are not the only wonders awaiting you. You should definitely visit the palace - there is even a special audioguide for little ones (only in German). A little footpath leads you to the rock theatre: a natural outdoor theatre carved in a rock, its 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 to 1619. Owing to long periods spent 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. Consequently, as soon as he got elected Prince Bishop of Salzburg and had enough sinecures to allow him realise his dreams, he started to construct an estate in the Italian style just south of Salzburg.


Markus Sittikus appointed Italian master craftsmen to carry out the work. It is almost certain that Santino Solari - the architect of 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 its construction. In the year of Markus Sittikus' death - 1619 - the trick fountains and the gardens were also completed.


What these masters have created is a synthesis of the arts. For it is both a refuge for the Prince Bishop and his entourage in their leisure time and 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. This is the place where the first opera to be performed north of the Alps was staged: 'L'Orfeo' of Claudio Monteverdi in 1616!


Opening times, ticket prices and other information is available here 


Please note that trick fountains can only be visited on a guided tour and it is advisable to take a raincoat or change of clothes


Details in English regarding a combined ticket for this attraction and Hellbrunn Zoo can be found here



Other recommendations