The Hellbrunn Castle is actually a villa of colossal dimensions which had been erected in the first decades of the 17th century (1613-1619) by the order of Markus Sittikus von Hohenems, the one who held the position of Prince-Archbishop in Salzburg at that time. The construction was not created with the purpose of accommodating the Archbishop, and for that reason, there are no bedrooms in the castle.
The Archbishop was a man with a fondness for comedy and for that reason it had come with an innovative idea to create several mechanisms through which to amuse himself and his fellow guests. The castle is renowned for its water-games. There are several machines which sprinkle water when activated and the target of their ‘attack’ was usually one of the guests of the Archbishop. But even today, these water systems are functional and tourists can get to experience on themselves how the water games work. In mid-18th century, other inventive ideas were put into practice.
For instance, a mechanical, water-operated and music-playing theater was established, as well as an apparatus through which the imminent shift in power is emphasized. This consists of a crown which is situated under a water sprinkle and which moves up and down according to the movement of the water. This is a clear illustration of the rise and fall of those who rule over specific regions.
There is something worth noting and that is that the Archbishop was never subject to a practical joke because the place designated to him was not part of the water-games web so he never got wet, unlike the rest of the guests. At present, the place that was once occupied by the Prince is attributed to the tour guide.
The surrounding area of the Hellbrunn is actually an immense park which is adjacent to a zoo, a theater built out of stone and a small edifice which goes by the name of ‘little month palace.’ The name conveyed to the building is tightly connected to the history of its construction. Apparently one of the Archbishop’s guests had suggested that the view one sees out the windows of the castle would greatly improve if the landscape offered to the viewer consisted of a building on a hill. Markus Sittikus had taken this piece of advice seriously and had given order for a small building to be erected on the neighboring hill. One month later, when the same person came for another visit at the Hellbrunn Castle, the Archbishop presented him with the improved view from the window.
The construction had survived throughout time and at present is a part of the Carolina Augusteum Museum of Salzburg. The items on display are representative for the cultural past of Salzburg, thus the ‘small building on a hill’ is the subdivision of the museum dedicated to ethnography.
The main building of the castle is rectangular in shape and comprises two pavilions in the front part. The edifice is made out of three storeys which are delineated at the exterior by means of specific decorative works. The first floor of the edifice comprised the rooms of the archbishop and the entire section bears the mark of the Italian painter Arsenio Mascagni. He had adorned the walls of the chambers at the beginning of the 17th century (1615), when he had painted both the walls and the ceiling with various scenes, some depicted from the famous series of autobiographies entitled the ‘Twelve Caesars’.
Hellbrunn is situated outside Salzburg, but the two points are connected by means of a long alley. Upon arriving at the palace, tourists will first enter in the ‘courtyard of honor’, the Ehrenhof, a courtyard that broadens as one gets closer and closer to the castle. Behind the Hellbrunn Palace lies a 17th century garden which comprises beautiful flower arrangements and a pond that reigns in the center of the garden and in which a small quadrilateral isle is located.
The initial design was conveyed according to the Baroque style, but this was later changed in accordance to the trends that were in fashion in particular timeframes. There are only two markers of the original plan (from 1730) and these are the two obelisks that are located in the western part of the gardens.
Due to the gardens and the mechanisms which are incorporated within the setting, especially the water games, the Hellbrunn Castle can be regarded as some sort of Disneyland, whose sole purpose was to entertain the Archbishop and his guests.