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March 4, 2019

Austria: Hellbrun Palace

Filed under: Architecture, Austria, Europe, Photography, Travel, Travel, Writing — Tags: , , , , , — anotherheader @ 6:04 pm

Hellbrunn Palace

Hellbrunn Palace (German: Schloss Hellbrunn) is an early Baroque villa to the south of Salzburg Austria. It was built in 1613–19 and named for the clear spring that supplied its water features. The palace is famous for its jeux d’eau or water games that are spread throughout the estate’s grounds. Indeed it is the playful water features that make Hellbrun a popular tourist attraction in the summer months.

Building Hellbrunn was an extravagance by Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg Markus Sittikus von Hohenems. The palace was only meant for use as a day residence in summer; it has no bedrooms. It is in effect a private amusement park constructed at the whimsy of a powerful church leader.

Sittikus conceived of the water games set in the grounds as a series of practical jokes to be performed on his guests. Notable features include stone seats around a stone dining table through which water is sprayed up onto the guests’ bottoms when the mechanism is activated. Elsewhere are numerous hidden fountains that when activated spray unsuspecting guests. With all of the jets of water there is always a spot that is never wet. This is where the Archbishop stood or sat and watched with amusement the surprise of his guests as they are sprayed. I’m guessing that Sittikus preferred first time visitors who had no idea of what to expect.

Pleasant grounds, but be careful of where you sit.

The Prince-Archbishop’s seat stays dry while everyone else gets wet.

Today Hellbrunn is open for visitors who make the short trip from Salzburg to see the palace. Inside the walls of the estate visitors can see Sittikus’s creation in action; many of the water games still work. To see the water features functioning visitors must join a tour, which is included in the price of admission. During the tour the guide plays the role of the Prince-Archbishop activating the water jets while standing in the dry spot.

Along with the water games the estate also includes a mechanical, water-operated and music-playing theatre that includes some 200 automata showing various professions at work. There are also attractive pools and grounds. The inside of the palace is also interesting and can also be seen with the price of admission but the real fun at Hellbrunn Palace is outside. As it has been for centuries, a visit to Sittikus’s palace is good fun for children of all ages.


We visited Hellbrunn Palace at the end of September 2018.

The jets of water surprise unsuspecting guests

Water comes from surprising places.

There are numerous small water powered automata.

Some areas of the palace grounds have “ordinary” water features.

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