Hellbrunn – A Palace For Fun

Water gardens at Hellbrunn Palace, Salzburg

All you read about these days is news of escalating strife, looming recession, and violation of human rights.

Our world has grown serious.  

We’ve forgotten how to have fun!

This sentiment isn’t new.  

In fact, it is centuries old.  Even back in 1786, Salzburg’s Prince Archbishop Markus Sittikus felt that way.

And he decided to do something about itat his castle in Hellbrunn, Salzburg!

The Trick Fountains at Hellbrunn Palace have been an attraction for over 400 years.  Archbishop Sittikus would invite his special friends and host lavish parties in the spacious garden.  He had special dinner tables like this one built.

Archbishop Markus Sitticus at Hellbrunn Schloss

Archbishop Markus Sitticus at Hellbrunn Schloss

The Archbishop sat at the head of the table, his invitees on either side.  The trough in the center was the fridge, filled with ice-cold water to keep the guests’ drinks cold.

Table with in-built 'refrigerator' - Hellbrunn Palace, Salzburg

Table with in-built ‘refrigerator’ – Hellbrunn Palace, Salzburg

All ate, drank and made merry… and when spirits rose (or conscious levels dropped) to a certain point, the host gave a signal to liven things up!

At the pull of a lever, hidden pipes released jets of cold water in interesting directionsincluding one right in the seats of their pants.

Cold, refreshing jets for guests at Markus Sitticus' table

Cold, refreshing jets for guests at Markus Sitticus’ table

(Note, though, that the host’s seat was spared!)

“It’s to wake them up, so they can enjoy more of the feast,” the Archbishop probably joked.

Water was the central theme in Hellbrunn palace’s design.  The vast grounds are dotted with lakes and pools, mini-waterfalls and fountains.  The elaborate grottos and simple toy-like adornments that are scattered all over the garden have one theme in common – irreverence and fun.

Hellbrunn Palace, Salzburg, Austria

Water Garden, Hellbrunn Palace, Salzburg, Austria

His critics in the church chastised the Archbishop for not being “serious enough”… and he replied by adding even more outrageous gadgets that drenched the unwary passerby (water streamed from the tips of the deer’s antlers, in every which direction)

Water jets from the deer's antlers, drenching hapless passersby

Water jets from the deer’s antlers, drenching hapless passersby

Or stuck their tongues out at viewers (a water-driven mechanism that required advanced technical skill) …

Grotto (man-made) at Schloss Hellbrunn, Austria or just exhibited sheer uninhibited, childish joy.

Grotto (man-made) at Schloss Hellbrunn, Austria

Or just exhibited sheer uninhibited, childish joy. 

Animated water puppet show, Trick Fountain, Hellbrunn Schloss

Animated water puppet show, Trick Fountain, Hellbrunn Schloss

This elaborate animated show depicts a village scene, with 139 little figurines. At the flip of a lever, each one starts moving about and doing their daily chores… an amazing accomplishment of engineering and knowhow for 200 years ago.  

In fact, the Archbishop didn’t like the grinding noise of the machinery and asked for music to drown it out – so his team set up a water-organ that played tunes based on water streams dripping through a series of pipes.  

It’s to be seen to be believed – and I’ve posted a short video for you here…

Steve Jobs and Walt Disney, step aside.  This was the animation studio of the 18th century!

There’s a lot more fun stuff involving water at Hellbrunn.

Like this contraption where a crown weighing half a kilogram is lifted nearly 10 feet into the air by a jet of water – where it then revolves (always in a clockwise direction, can you tell why?)

Gravity defying water jet, at Hellbrunn Palace, Salzburg

Gravity defying water jet, at Hellbrunn Palace, Salzburg

And this “water tunnel” you can walk through – without an umbrella!

Water tunnel, garden of Hellbrunn Palace

Water tunnel, garden of Hellbrunn Palace

Water tunnel, garden of Hellbrunn Palace

Walking through the water tunnel, garden of Hellbrunn Palace

The guidebooks say:  “If you don’t like the idea of getting drenched, skip the Trick Fountains at Hellbrunn Palace”.

That’s crazy.

I say: “Just wear a raincoat!” – but GO!

Raincoat in Salzburg Austria

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