30 October, 2006

curia confoederationis helveticae - Bern - Switzerland

According to legend, late in the 12th century, the Duke of Zahringen sent his hunters into the woods and promised to name the city after the first animal that was brought to him. The bear was the first to be slain and since the 15th century the bear has served as the city's mascot.

Duke Berthold V of Zähringen founded the city on the River Aare in 1191 and allegedly named it after a bear (Bär in German) he had killed. It was made an Imperial Free City by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in 1218 after Berthold died without an heir. In 1353 Berne joined the young Swiss Confederation, becoming a leading member of the new state. It invaded and conquered Aargau in 1415 and Vaud in 1536, as well as other smaller territories, thereby becoming the largest city-state north of the Alps. It was occupied by French troops in 1798 during the French Revolutionary Wars, when it was stripped of most of its territories. In 1831 the city became the capital of the Canton of Bern and in 1848 it additionally became the Swiss (administrative) capital.

The Federal Assembly building was built in Renaissance style in 1902. It has "Curia Confoederationis Helveticae" inscribed on it. The building sits on a cliff edge above the river Aare. The Bundeshaus or House of Parliament, is the seat of Swiss Government. The oldest part of the building, the west wing, dates back to 1856. The central connecting portion of the structure that connects the East and the West wing was completed in 1902.

Switzerland is a federal republic and perhaps the closest state in the world to a direct democracy. For any change in the constitution, a referendum is mandatory; for any change in a law, a referendem can be requested. In practice, the people have the last word in every change of law some interest group disagrees with.

In the mid-1850s, plans were drawn up for a neo-Gothic structure which envisaged a building similar to the palace of Westminster in London. But eventually the design of Wilhelm Auer was approved.

Construction was carried out in accordance with the ideals of the Swiss federalism. The exterior is mostly sandstone from the quarries just outside Bern. Stone and other building materials from every region of the country have also been used. 30 artists from different parts of the country were commissioned to do the artwork.

Hidden secrets
When a large chandelier from one of the parliamentary chambers was taken down recently for restoration, it was found to contain documents written by restorers in the 1930s with their views about the approaching world war.

Like the building material used for construction, the restorers and the original construction workers represented most regions of Switzerland. Monica Bilfinger, an art historian at the federal building department rightly comments: "it is not just a house for the Swiss people, it's made by the Swiss people".

29 October, 2006

A day in the Land of Mozart - Austria

Augustiner Bräu

Salzburg, is home to one of Europe's most famous beer destinations: Augustiner Bräu. For centuries, monastic orders like the Augustinians preserved the ancient art of beer making. The monks were craft brewers in the literal sense: they relied on scientific principles, and paid strict attention to quality. Some of Europe's finest beers have their origins in monasteries.

The Augustiner monastery was founded in 1605 by Wolf Dietrich, Salzburg's prince and archbishop. Dietrich was, to say the least, a larger-than-life character. Like a true prince of the Holy Roman Empire, he ruled the city with an iron hand, and spent lavishly on the arts. And he didn't let his religious vows get in the way of earthly pleasure. He had 15 children by his longtime mistress, Salome Alt, and built the lavish Mirabell Palace and Gardens in her honor.

In 1835, the emperor handed the monastery over to the Benedictine order, who decided to cash in by inviting the public to drink their beer. The residents of Salzburg have flocked there ever since.

A visit to Augustiner monastery didn't interest me as I don't drink. A climb to the monastery would only be a waste of time. So I just walked almost up to the monastery on the eastern bank of Salzach river and turned back. I took this picture as a memorabilia of my walk.

Getreidegasse --Salzburg's most famous shopping street

Salzburg´s Getreidegasse is the most famous street of the city, and therefore is the most crowded. The charming old houses have pretty portals and wonderful courtyards. The Getreidegasse is famous for the whrought signs from the 16th to the 19th Centuries. The design of the signs dates back to the Middle Ages. It is worth taking a second look at the houses because they are adorned with dates, symbols or the names of their owners, so they often tell their own history.

Salzburg is Austria’s fourth largest city and lies 436 m above sea level. Salzburg is divided by the river Salzach. Its two sides are very distinctive from one another: On the south side of Salzach you will find the "Oldtown" of Salzburg underneath the Mönchsberg and the Hohensalzburg Fortress. North of the river you will find the Kapuzinerberg and the baroque Castle Mirabell with its beautiful garden. I had a lovely walk through the old town of Salzburg and crossed over the bridge on to the new town side.

Though I am not a fan of Mozart I couldn't resist visiting Tanzmeisterhaus -- the house where Mozart spent a few years of his life. I walked around the place for a while and also visited the garden in front of the house. I saw this beautiful building in Marktplatz a little further from Mozart's house. It appeared to be a concert hall but I am not certain about it.

Marktplatz is just a stone's throw away from Mirabell garden where I had begun my journey earlier in the day. I went back to the garden and sat on a bench for a while before leaving to the station to take the train back to Vienna. While in the garden I heard a family speaking "Kannada" and I was excited. I heard them referring to "Jayanagar" and "Malleswaram" in their conversation and my joy knew no bounds. The family was from Bangalore, my hometown :). They were six people: two elderly men, an elderly woman, a young couple and a little boy aged about two years. I walked up to them and tried to speak to the young man. He gave me a weird look and walked away. I smiled at the young woman who seemed to be his wife and asked for the directions to the railway station in Kannada. She literally jumped with joy when she heard me speak in Kannada and asked me if I was from Bangalore. I said I was and she told me that her husband, a software engineer worked for a company in a nearby town and they had come to Salzburg with her parents to spend the weekend. She gave me the directions to the railway station and I thanked her.

I bought an icecream cone in a shop beside the main road and walked towards "Bahnhonf" -- the railway station, relishing it. I noticed this interesting signboard and an equally intersting traffic signal. I wonder what "KISS&RIDE" :) means.

The journey back to Vienna was for 3Hrs and 45 Min. I reached Wien Westbahnhof station at 8:30 PM, had a croissant and a cup of cappuccino in Caffé India. My first visit to Europe was indeed memorable. I returned to the hostel, packed my bags and slept. I had to take the airport service bus at 5 O' Clock early next morning.

Pferdeschwemme - Salzburg - Austria

The Pferdeschwemmen -- Horse well, was built by Fischer Van Erlach (who is aso responsible for the Trinity Church) along with the front façade of the royal stables in 1693. The centre of the well is decorated by a statue named "Der Rossebändiger" -- "horse tamers", the work of Michael Bernhard Mandl. It was formerly located in an oval basin axial to the portal of the royal stables. A palace façade with depictions of horses was located behind it.

In 1732, the horse pond was restored under Archbishop Firmian. The group of horse tamers was turned by 90 degrees and given a new pedestal. The basin was enclosed by a balustrade. Joseph Ebner painted horse fescoes on the rear wall in the style of Stradnus' engraving "Equite seu speculum equorum"

The well was initially built to give water to the patrician's and Prince Archbishop's horses. Around 1700 horses in the archbishop's riding school bathed here before going to the stable across the street.

For 2000 years, the Norik Horse ( Noriker, Norisches Kaltbult, or Pinzgauer) has lived in Austria. Named after the Roman province of Noricum, they descend from an ancient Celtic horse that bred with heavy Roman draught horses. The breeding of Norik horses flourished under Charlemagne in the 8th century. The first stud farm that bred Norik horses was not until 1576 near Hallein and was under the control of the Archbishops of Salzburg who used the Noriks primarily as ceremonial or parade horses, with the colorful specimens especially popular. The frescos in Salzburg of the "Pferdeschwamme" portray similar horses.

For the construction of the Salzburg cathedral, rocks had been cut out from the mountain Moenchsberg. In 1693, Archbishop Johann Ernst von Thun decided to use this cavity in the mountain and he had a riding school built according to plans by Fischer von Erlach in which tournaments were held. It included 36 boxes chiseled from the rocks for the Archbishops and guests, and it was used as an open-air theatre for sport, dance and theater performances since the 18th century. The Horse Pond next to it was built in 1695 by von Erlach as a watering place for the Archbishop's riding stables.

Since 1926, the rock riding school has been used by the "Salzburger Festspiele". By the 18th century, Norik horses became important as work animals for farmers, but those horses which had been interbred with riding horses by the Archbishops were not as well suited for mountainous work and the more common type of less temperamental, heavy work horses were preferred in difficult terrain.

In time, these useful animals which had served as a riding, carriage, and work horse for knights, farmers and merchants in the Middle Ages evolved into the heavy alpine Norik horse, some of which would one day depart with their banished Protestant owners, bound for a long trek into unfamiliar lands.

Mozartplatz and Tanzmeisterhaus - Salzburg - Austria

[The narration of Mozart's death has been borrowed from http://www.music-with-ease.com/mozart.html]
Mozart expired penniless, and almost neglected, and was laid to rest in a nameless grave, not one soul whom he had known in life standing by to see the coffin lowered. The records of musical history tell of no deathbed scene which leaves so deep an impression as that of Mozart. He had been commissioned to compose a Requiem and it was still uncompleted. His last afternoon on earth had come. Supported by pillows, though already exhausted by fits of coughing, he made painful efforts to join his pupil Sussmayer and one or two other acquaintances in singing the chorus parts of the unfinished work. The most vivid imagination cannot picture a more distressing scene than the dying man, unable to speak, extending his cheeks to indicate to Sussmayer the places at which the wind instruments should be employed. The evening wore on slowly enough for the sad, wearied watchers, and as midnight drew near the dying composer with difficulty raised himself from his bed, opened his eyes wide, and then, turning his face to the wall, seemed to fall asleep. It was the last sleep: an hour later and the perturbed spirit was at rest for ever.

The body lay for the usual time, and as the days of the old year were slowly dying, Mozart took his last long journey. A poor, scanty, straggling procession is observed wending its way from the house to the Cathedral, where a short service is to be held prior to the interment in the burial-ground of St. Mark, then lying in the suburbs of Vienna, but now a veritable oasis in the desert of the enlarged city. As the coffin emerges from the Cathedral in the pouring rain, some who have been at the service disappear round the angles of the building, and are seen no more. Others shelter themselves as best they can, and trudge with the remains along the muddy streets. But even these cannot hold out to the end. "They all forsook him and fled." And so, unattended except by hirelings, the body was borne away into the dismal country, there to be laid with paupers in a common grave, the exact site of which no one was to know in the course of a few years.

In 1809 some admirers wished to visit the grave, but they were told that the ashes of the poor were often exhumed to make room for others, and Mozart was as unknown at the cemetery as the other fifteen friendless unfortunates who had been buried the same week. To-day, in that great necropolis, the monument to Mozart stands over an empty grave.

The town paid its respects to the great son; after his death, by erecting the Mozart memorial that was designed by Ludwig Schwanthaler. It was opened in 1842 in the presence of Mozart's two sons. Mozart's widow Constanze Von Nissen had died half a year earlier in May.

1842 was a difficult time for the town of Salzburg. Secularised only two decades earlier, it was still suffering from the devastations of the Napoleonic wars. There was a Baroque fountain with a statue of St. Michael in the centre of the square that faced a church. It had to be removed for the Mozart memorial. It was an expensive enterprise for the economically distressed city.

The mentally disturbed King of Bavaria, Ludwig I was passionately in love with Salzburg and adored Mozart. He donated a significant amout of money to start the erection of the memorial. The opening of the memorial had been planned for 1841, but the construction workers discovered a Roman mosaic under the Baroque fountain and the work was delayed.

Tanzmeisterhaus (Mozart's Residence)

Mozart's residence was also known as Tanzmeisterhaus (dancing master's hgouse). It consisted of two buildings until 1685. On Aug 3rd, 1711 the decree granted permission to Lorenz Speckner to hold dancing for the aristocracy in the building. In 1739, the house was turned over to Lorenz's son Franz Karl Gottlieb Speckner. He was a higly arisocratic dancing master. In those days a dancing master played an important role by giving the young aristocrats dancing lessons and also prepared them for life at court and was perfectly conversant with the complicated court ceremonials.

Gottlieb Speckner witnessed Mozart's parents' wedding on Nov 15th, 1747. The Mozart family was considering moving to a bigger residence as early as in Dec. 1765. but the plans were always pushed aside during the family's extensive journey throughout western Europe. The family finally moved into their new domicile after their third journey to Vienna (mid July-Sept 25th 1773).

Gottlieb Specner had died on May 15th, 1767 and Tanzmeisterhaus was inherited by his cousin, Maria Anna Raab. She resorted to renting the space to wedding parties. The spacious residence was large enough to receive friends and musicians. In this house John Chrysostom Wolfgang Theophilus Mozart wrote symphonies, divertimenti, serenades, piano and violin concerti and a bassoon concerto, arias, masses and other sacred music from 1773 - 1780.

Mozart's mother died in Paris in 1778. His sister married and moved to St. Gilgen in 1784. Leopold lived alone in the house till in death on May 28th, 1787. The house had various owners after Leopold Mozart's death. A bomb struck the house on October 16th, 1944 and destroyed two-thirds of the building. The owner at that time sold the destroyed section to the Assicurazioni generali, who erected an office building on the site. International Mozarteum Foundation purchased the building in 1989. The international Mozarteum Foundation had already purchased the preserved secion of the Tanzmeistersaal in 1955 and turned it into a museum. The office building was torn down on May 2nd, 1944 and reconstructed it according to the old plans.

Mozart Memorablia

The city that never recognised his talents or paid the due respect that he deserved today sells Mozart memorablia in the form of chocolates, Mozart Yogurt, sausage, baby bottles and perfumes.

Kurt Palm, author of a new book about Mozart says "The new slogan for 2006 is not sex sells, but Mozart sells. If Mozart could see what happens now only in Austria, in Vienna or Salzburg this year, he would either only laugh about it or he would be disgusted".

28 October, 2006

Dreifaltigkeitskirche - Salzburg - Austria

The Dreifaltigkeitskirche or "Trinity Church" is located on the right side of the river Salzach. It was built between 1694 and 1702 by Fischer Von Erlach by the order of Prince Archibishop Johan Ernst Von Thun to house a seminar for young men in training to become priests.

Like the other churches built by Von Erlach, this church also has a central dome, a plaful façade and two towers that make it appear like a palace. The architecture was inspired by Roman designs.

After visiting the Holy Trinity Church, I walked over to the other side of the building and entered the Residence square. It is the heart of the old city. Archibishops used the Residence buildings from 17th C onwards. The residence fountain is 15Mts high and is the Largest Baroque fountain outside Italy. The fountain was built between 1658 and 1661 with marble from Untersberg -- a mountain near Salzburg. It was possibly built by Italian artist Tommaso di Garona.

The waterspouting horses shot to world fame as they were featured in the movie "Sound Of Music". Maria boards the bus to the Trapp family house in the Residence square. As she crosses the square, she splashes her hand through the water of the Residence fountain and sings "I have confidence in me"

What will this day be like? I wonder.
What will my future be? I wonder.
It could be so exciting to be out in the world, to be free
My heart should be wildly rejoicing
Oh, what's the matter with me?

I've always longed for adventure
To do the things I've never dared
And here I'm facing adventure
Then why am I so scared

Oh, I must stop these doubts, all these worries
If I don't I just know I'll turn back
I must dream of the things I am seeking
I am seeking the courage I lack

And mind me with each step I am more certain
Everything will turn out fine
I have confidence the world can all be mine
They'll have to agree I have confidence in me

I have confidence in sunshine
I have confidence in rain
I have confidence that spring will come again
Besides which you see I have confidence in me

Strength doesn't lie in numbers
Strength doesn't lie in wealth
Strength lies in nights of peaceful slumbers
When you wake up -- Wake Up!

It tells me all I trust I lead my heart to
All I trust becomes my own
I have confidence in confidence alone
(Oh help!)

I have confidence in confidence alone
Besides which you see I have confidence in me!

(I have deleted a couple of paragraphs from the original lyrics :)... that I don't really enjoy much :)....)

A few local musicians were playing their music instruments and selling the CDs of the songs they had recorded. I sat in the cool shade and enjoyed their music for a while.

Leopoldskron Palace - Salzburg - Austria

Archbishop Leopold Count Firmian built Leopoldskron palace in Rococo style, as a residence for his family in 1731. The Baroque palace is located on the banks of a lake on the outskirts of the city. Firmiani family sold the estate in 1837 and since then it has changed owners many times. King of Bavaria too owned it at one time.

Max Reinhardt, founder of the Salzburg festival, bought it in 1918. It was in a sad condition, but he renovated it to its original beauty and used its garden for theatre performances.

"Salzburg Seminar in American Studies"-- an institution that focuses on economy problems bought the castle in 1958.

The palace is one of the most important buildings in the movie "Sound of Music". It is used as a back façade of the Trapp family home. The baroness and the captain break up on the balcony and down on the terrace. The interior scenes were based on the inside façades of this palace but were rebuilt and filmed in the studios.

Mirabell Garden - Salzburg -Austria

Let's start at the very beginning
A very good place to start
When you read you begin with A-B-C
When you sing you begin with do-re-mi

Do-re-mi, do-re-mi
The first three notes just happen to be
Do-re-mi, do-re-mi

spoken Let's see if I can make it easy

Doe, a deer, a female deer
Ray, a drop of golden sun
Me, a name I call myself
Far, a long, long way to run
Sew, a needle pulling thread
La, a note to follow Sew
Tea, a drink with jam and bread
That will bring us back to Do (oh-oh-oh)

Maria and the children sing this song in "Sound of Music" and towards the end of the song, they are shown dancing in the Mirabell Garden.
(If you click on the photo below and open it in a new page, you will see the two statues that are shown in the movie)

The garden is oriented towards the Hohensalzburg fortress and the Salzburg Dom Cathedral. Johan Bernhard Fischer Von Erlach re-modelled the original gardens under the reign of Prince Archbishop Johann Ernst Thun in 1689. Franz Anton Danreiter altered them in 1730 and shaped it to what is now considered as the most beautiful Baroque gardens in Europe.

There is a large fountain in the heart of the garden with four statue groups around it: the rape of Prosperina, rape of Helena, Aeneas and Anchises and finally Hercules and Antaeus. These statues were made by Ottavio Mosto in 1690.

Walking your way up the North brings you to the "Salzburg Dwarf Garden". It has a display of grotesque dwarfs. These dwarfs actually lived in the court of Prince Archibishops of Salzburg. These sculptures are so grotesque that you wouldn't want to take a picture of them.

I spent about an hour in the garden enjoying the wonderful Salzburg music. A local music group was practicing in Mirabell garden on the Sunday afternoon.

23 October, 2006

Festung Hohensalzburg - Salzburg - Austria

Built 900 years ago, this fortress once served as a prison and also as a miliary post. It was built by Price Archbishop Eberhard in 1077. Initially it was built of wood and served for the protection of Imperial troops of the Holy Roman Empire. During the struggle for power between Pope Gregor VII and Emperor Henry IV, Prince Archbishop Eberhard decided to stand by the Pope.

Prince Archbishop Konrad I built a stone tower during his reign. Conflicts between Bavaria and Austria posed continued threats for Slazburg and Hohensalburg Fortress and so was improved further.

Prince Archbishop Burkhard III. von Weißpriach built the four main towers along the outer wall. Burkhard's successor Prince Archbishop Bernhard Von Rohr built the bastion to protect from the rebel of the miners and the also to suppress rich patricians'struggle for more power. Salzburg also feared an invasion of Turkish troops.

Prince Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach changed the purpose of the fortress from a militaristic and strategistic one to a representative one. He invested large amounts of money into decorations, modernisation and extensions to make the fortress a pleasant castle. Keutschach shaped the fortress and until today it has not changed in any fundamental way.

During the 30 years war, Prince Archbishop Paris Lodron modernised the Festung (fortress) by altering the roofs and outer walls. City walls were also built.

After the Napoleonic wars, when Salzburg became part of Austria, the fortress served as a prison and an army camp. During world War I, it was used to imprison Italian officers as prisoners of war.

Nazi underground terrorists were exiled in the fortress in 1934. This was the last time that the festung held prisoners.

In 1965 a successful musical "Sound of Music" was made a movie in the original locations of Salzburg and surrounding. Here in this picture you see Julie Andrews (Maria in the movie) with the Hohensalzburg as the backdrop.

22 October, 2006

Schönbrunn - Vienna - Austria

It has been more than a year since I traveled to Austria and my grey cells don't seem to be good at retaining a large amount of information :)... I have forgotten how exactly I traveled to Schönbrunn or what tram I took... I am sure a lot of you would now be saying "YAHOO!!! Thank God . She doesn't remember too much. So that should spare us from reading all the details of the travel :)"... but... I still have a great deal of information about the places that I visited in Vienna. This was the apothekery that I saw while on tram to Schönbrunn.

I got off at the Schönbrunn stop and turned to my left at the exit. I saw a sign board Schönbrunn and followed it. The road led me to the parking lot for the vehicles to the palace :). I then walked out of the parking lot and stood looking around. I stood at the corner of the street trying to figure out the right road when a group of young men walked up to me and asked "may we help you?" I was happy to hear them speak English and said "Yes Please. I want to go to Schönbrunn palace. Could you direct me please?". The young man who approached seemed to be a Chinese student. He pointed in the opposite direction and said "you walk straight down this road you will reach the palace". I thanked them and walked on. The sight ahead was breath taking!

Schönbrunn Palace with its surrounding buildings and the huge park is one of the most significant cultural monuments in Austria. The castle was built to rival French Versailles in Baroque beauty and importance but House Habsburg lacked funds to outdo its rivalling nation France. In earlier times it served as summer residence to various Habsburg rulers.


Note: The following information about the history of the place has been borrowed from the UNESCO report.

The Katterburg estate, the site of the present Schönbrunn Palace, was sold in the mid 16th century by the Kiosterneuburg monastery to Emperor Maximilian II, who developed it as a hunting lodge and installed a menagerie. The buildings were badly damaged when Vienna was sacked by the Hungarians in 1605; it was not until 1622 that they were restored by Emperor Ferdinand II. After his death in 1637 the Katterburg became the dowager estate of his Widow, Eleanora of GOnzaga. The name was changed to Schonbrunn (Beautiful Spring) in 1642 when a new three storey chateau de plaisance was erected alongside the older building.

In 1683 Vienna was besieged by the Turks, Who were finally crushed, but not before they had Wrought great destruction in the surroundings of the city, including Schönbrunn. During the great rebuilding that followed the siege, Emperor Leopold I commissioned the Italian-trained architect Johann Bernard Fischer von Erlach to
design a new building there as a residence for his heir, Grand-Duke Joseph. His first design is now thought to have been prepared simply to demonstrate his capabilities. In this he was highly successful: his design was greatly admired and was to secure him many other commissions.

Emperor Franz Joseph (ruled 1848-1916), who was born here in 1830, spent the last years of his life entirely in Schönbrunn. In 1918, the palace became the property of the new republic. Due to this historical importance, its beautiful location and its gardens this palace is one of the very top sights in Vienna. Furthermore the entire complex was added to the UNESCO's world cultural heritage list.

Schönbrunner Schloßpark
Schönbrunn Palace is the former Habsburg summer residence. In 1695 Fischer von Erlach sr. was asked to design a palace that could match Versailles. His plan turned out to be too costly, so Schönbrunn was constructed a bit more sober initially.

Empress Maria Theresia choose Schönbrunn as her main residence. She added the theatre and the garden to make her stay more enjoyable. And inside, she refurbished the rooms in baroque and rococo style.


The Gloriette was built in 1775. Today, the inscription of the middle part of the building still bears witness: "JOSEPHO II. AUGUSTO ET MARIA THERESIA IMPERANTIB. MDCCLXXV" (Erected 1775 under the reign of Emperor Joseph and Empress Maria Theresia). Even then, one appreciated beautiful views - and for that reason a 20-meter-high observation terrace was created (accessible only via a spiral staircase).

Today, Café Gloriette is housed in this splendid building. Every Sunday morning, there is a brunch with live music ranging from the classics to jazz.

Neptune Fountain

Sited at the foot of the hill behind the palace and designed as the crowning element of the Great Parterre is the Neptune Fountain. It was conceived as part of the overall design of the gardens and park commissioned by Maria Theresa in the 1770s. Excavations for the pool began in 1776 and the fountain was completed four years later, just before the death of the empress. It was very probably designed by Johann Ferdinand Hetzendorf von Hohenberg, while the sculptural group of Sterzing marble was executed by Wilhelm Beyer.

A rocky landscape is peopled with the sea-god Neptune and his entourage. At the centre of the figural group above a rocky grotto stands Neptune in a shell-shaped chariot, his trident in his hand. To his left is a nymph, while on his right kneels the sea-goddess Thetis, entreating Neptune to favour the voyage of her son, Achilles, who has set off to conquer Troy. Frolicking at the foot of the grotto are the Tritons, creatures who are half-man and half-fish, and belong to Neptune's entourage. They hold conch shell trumpets with which they can inspire fear in both man and beast, and are restraining the hippocampi or sea-horses who draw Neptune's chariot across the seas.

Neptune driving across the seas in dominion over the watery element is a common motif in 16th to 18th-century art, being used as a symbol for monarchs controlling the destiny of their nations. The figural group was originally free-standing, but a screen of trees was planted behind it during the 19th century to provide a foil.

Sea Goddess Thetis



I sat in the garden for a long time. My first day in Europe was truly memorable. The next day I had to go to Salzburg. So though I didn't really want to return to the hostel, I had to :(. I returned to the hostel and had my dinner which consisted of chapatis and chutney that I had taken with me from London :). While having my dinner in the hostel garden, I met an interesting group of travelers. A girl from Hawaii whose name was rather too difficult for us to pronounce :) and so just called her Miss Hawaii, a student from USA and another student from London. He was an Indian by ethnic origin but was born in London. He called himself "D-raaaj" (it was quite obvious that his parents had named him Dhiraj :).....and after living in London for almost 20 years he couldn't say his own name in the right way). We spoke for a while and they exchanged email ids. I wasn't keen on meeting any of them again :) or keeping in touch with them either. So I excused myself saying that I had to take an early morning train to Salzburg and retired for the night.