What do the Romans, Mozart, and Hitler have in common? The answer, the pretty Austrian city, Linz.
Yes, a long, long time ago, the Romans started a settlement here.
Mozart wrote the “Linz” Symphony and “Linz” Sonata during a three day visit to the city. The house where he stayed and worked is still standing, but there is no tour of the home.
And quietly, our tour guide told us that Adolph Hitler’s family moved here shortly after his birth from an Austrian village near the German border. Hitler spent his childhood in the city, and he considered Linz his home.
Our tour started in Linz’s beautiful, Hauptplatz, the town square. According to the Viking Daily, the square is the largest in Austria. No matter where our tour guide directs our attention, we have lots to see and ponder.
The Town Hall, stately homes, a railway line, the Trinity Column, courtyards, and the beginnings of Old Town capture my interest.
The railway line is in constant use as it quietly arrives and departs in the heart of the square.
But, I’m drawn to the Trinity Column. The statue was designed and constructed to acknowledge a grateful thanks by the people of Linz for being a bit “lucky” with the challenges that surrounded them in their early history. The Column stands in at 66 feet in height, and stone masons worked with white Untersberg marble in its design.
Our tour guide kept us moving. We walked a lot, but thanks to her expertise, we took in this section of the city with great detail and a broad lens. She even took us back in time for a quick view of some Roman ruins. But more importantly, our guide, left us with a plan for the afternoon.
After lunch on the ship, our plan was to revisit Old Town for more exploring, and to take the steepest mountain railway in Europe to Postlingberg hill and a pilgrimage church that dates back to the 18th century.
Thanks to my tour guides, Betsy and Elizabeth, we figure out how to purchase tickets at the Town Hall for the railway ride. Our timing is good for catching a rail car that will take us up 1,768 feet to our destination. There is lots to see as we cross the Danube and work our way up the hill.
In 1898, someone figured out that a rail line up Postlingberg Hill to the Pilgrimage Church was a good idea. They weren’t wrong, the train ride was worth it.
No question, the views looking down over Linz are as predicted— beautiful, and the church isn’t shabby either. We enjoyed our walk around the building and a quick self-guided tour inside. Locals also know the church as the Seven Sorrows of the Virgin Mary.
Gradually, we worked our way to the railway line to catch the train to take us back into Linz. Once across the Danube, we returned to the Old Town area for more exploring of the shops.
As I followed Betsy and Elizabeth around, I wondered if any of our footsteps today would have been paths that Hitler had taken during his childhood. And, I also wondered, how Hitler became such an evil monster.
Additionally, my mental meandering takes me back to World War II. My guess is we probably walked through sections of Linz today that had been heavily bombed. Linz was a constant target as the city was a major hub of activity for the Germans.
In Stephen Ambrose’s book, The Wild Blue, B-24 pilot George McGovern said this about flying over Linz: “It was terrible, hell can’t be any worse than that.”
Upon returning from one bombing mission over Linz in April of 1945, McGovern, in his plane, the Dakota Queen, counted 110 holes in plane’s fuselage and wings. He was amazed that the plane could stay in the air from being hit with all that flak.
Our day walking and exploring Linz had been tension and stress free. This was a significant contrast to what the citizens of Linz experienced during World War II.
Slowly, we made our way back to the ship. Before dinner, we had our first briefing about the upcoming disembarkation. Yes, we had one full day ahead of us before catching a plane back to America.
Dinner was delightful, and the chef and the servers continued to spoil us.
After dinner, we had an extra entertainment treat—the Salzburg Sound of Music Singers. Their performance affirmed why some acknowledge Linz as a leading cultural center in Upper Austria.