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Schloss Hellbrunn, Salzburg

37 Fürstenweg
Tel: 43 66282 03720's insider take:

This 17th-century summer palace on the outskirts of town, commissioned by Archbishop Markus Sittikus, features some lovely frescoes, but it is the surrounding garden that puts the pleasure (and a little pain) back in the notion of a pleasure palace. Conceived as an elaborate plein air joy buzzer by Sittikus, who loved a good party prank, the fun-house gardens incorporate references to alchemy and the occult and feature an extravagant layout of water cascades, follies, neoclassical statuary, trick fountains that may leave you dripping, a mechanical theater with 200 water-driven figures hammering and sawing in a tiny Baroque city, and a birdcall grotto that simulates the twittering of songbirds. It's the Neptune Grotto's water-powered centerpiece satyr, though, whose eyes roll back in his head as his tongue shoots out at you, that may be the Archbishop's final word, and truest doppelgänger.

Open daily 9 am to 4:30 pm, April and October; 9 am to 5:30 pm, May, June, and September; 9 am to 10 pm, July and August.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.