When I first saw a photo of the Kapitelschwemme, I knew it was a sight I had to see in Salzburg.
I found it, and wasn't disappointed!
It was a luxurious pond, where the watering and washing of horses took place. The pond dates to 1732, when a new fountain was built. The ramp used by the horses to access the pond, leads straight up to the group of figures which include Neptune, God of the sea which is holding a trident and crown whilst mounted on a seahorse spurting water.
The Pferdeschwemme (Horse Wash) is one of my favourite places in Salzburg, I find it so beautiful and I stayed there for ages just looking at it. Ok, this is probably also due to the fact that I love horses and they are so beautifully depicted :-)
This wash is also called "Hofmarstallschwemme" (Royal Stable's Wash). There is another wash at the other end of town, so don't confuse the two!
The Horse Wash was constructed in 1695 by architect Johann Fischer von Erlach and originally connected to the buildings of the Royal Stable's, but in 1732, it was parted and restored to what it looks like today, standing on its own and being enclosed by a balustrade.
The paintings are to depict the different breeds of horses and their temperaments. The monument in the front is called "Rossbändiger" (horse tamer) and symbolizes the monarch as the tamer of the state and its people. The painting in the middle of the wash shows a story of Greek mythology: It's Bellorophontes who tries to reach Mount Olympus on the back of the horse Pegasus and of course fails.
The Wash is located at Karajanplatz, named after the famous conductor.
Kapitelschwemme is the second Horse Wash in Salzburg (after Pferdeschwemme or Hofmarstallschwemme) and it is less visited. It is not as beautiful as the other one, but still beautiful and worth a look if you are near Kapitelplatz. It was built in 1732, its style much influenced by Roman fountains. It looks very elegant indeed. At the end of it there is a baroque monument of Neptun and his horse, symbolizing the power of the monarch.
Kapitelplatz is located next to the cathedral and St.Peter's Church, this is where the quarter of the canons starts. You will probably cross it when walking to the Fortress or to the funicular.
The rather pretty horse wash is located at Herbert von Karajan Platz and is one of two still operational in Salzburg. The other is further up near the Dom. Right around the corner is Toscanini Hof where outdoor music festivals are held in the summer. This is another "Sound of Music" setting. Unusual to see a central car park built into the cliff.
I am always amazed at the beauty of the horse wash. The "Pferdeschwemme" ( horse wash ) is located at the base of the Monchsberg cliffs. It was built about 320 years ago as a place where travelers could was their horses before they could enter the city.
The horse wash typifies the elegance of the city of Salzburg. If horses can wash and bath in these grand surroundings just imagine how the living areas and places of worship used to look like for thier owners.
Still along Monchberg, you'll find the Pferdeschwemme or Horse Pond built in 1693 by Fischer von Erlach. This is one of the two remaining horse ponds in Salzburg (remember the other one in Kapitelplatz?) and is the grandest. This is where the prized horses from the archbishop's royal stables are washed back then.
Today it has no specific use other than being a beautiful relic of the glorious days of the prince archbishops and a testimony of the importance of horses in the Barouque period. The stables however is more significant to the present Salzburg as they host visitors during the famous Salzburg Festival.
The statue dominating the pond called "The Horse Tamer" by Michael Bernhard Mandl was originally in a different direction. In 1732 Prince Archbishop Firmian commisioned to renovate the horse pond and so the statue was repositioned (turned 90 degrees) and elevated a bit. Josef Ebner painted the horse frescoes on the rear wall.
I've learned that some people like to drop coins in the fountain just like what they do in Rome's Trevi Fountain. But it doesn't have that same "effect" no matter how you try to imagine it.
More tip: Between the horse pond and the Festival Halls is a tunnel through Monchsberg called Siegmundstor (built between 1764 and 1767) or Neutor (preffered name by locals). This tunnel connects the Old town with the city districts of Riedenburg, Maxglan and Leopoldskron. On my visit to Salzburg, I only ignored this tunnel and never thought of crossing it and see what's on the other side. It's only now that I realized I've missed something - I've learned (from fellow VTer WrigleyTodd ) that it's got more nice cafes and shops and a little public walking path over Rainberg while on the other side is a nice little village with a street that takes you to Leopoldskron Castle. Hopefully on my next visit (if ever) I will have the chance to check this tunnel out.
So if you're in Salzburg, don't miss it like I did.
If you're going back to the Kapitelplatz you probably must have browsed through the shops for souvenirs, but now do the first stop - visit Neptune's Fountain, found somewhere in the corner of the square. To me this fountain is not that grand but nevertheless interesting and it is actually built as a horse pond where the horses near the cathedral are are washed (This is one of the two horse ponds left in Salzburg).
It was built in 1732 by the sculptor Anton Pfaffinger. This fountain reminds me of the the Trevi Fountain in Rome, only that it's a more modest version.
Also in Kapitelplatz, just near the Dom is the giant Chess - your next stop. Locals actually play with the giant chess pieces and its very fun to look at them carrying those giant pawns or bishops or looking at them standing and thinking about their next move.
The Pferdeschwemme ( horse wash ) is located almost directly at the base of the impressive Monchsberg cliffs. It was built about 320 years ago as a place where the horses of travellers could be washed prior to entering the city. Amazing that the people of the day all reeked of filth but the horses had to be clean. Not hard to imagine where Jonathan Swift got his ideas for his Baroque era satire of " Gulliver among the Hwyneums " ( sp ).
Pictured here is an excellent example of 250 year old horse art etched into marble slabs. Pretty good art, but it is amazing how people who spent so much of their time around horses did not seem to know what these magnificent animals really looked like. It took another 100 years or so before Frederick Remington showed the world of art what a horse really looks like. I will show you this later on my Oklahoma City Cowboy hall of fame page.
Bull Washers is the popular nickname for the Salzburg citizens (it is not valid for the people living in the rest of the state of Salzburg - these rural people used their animals in an other way and so they never did care much about washing them) In the city you find the most luxurious baroque facilities to wash the horses. Originally was here a quarry which later was transformed to this horsewash. I guess that not all Salzburg horses could enjoy the privilege of a bath in he "Pferdeschwemme" as this horses bath is called. And it is probably strictly forbidden to wash the horses there nowadays.
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