POINTS OF INTEREST
In the Middle Ages, the ruling Babenberg family built its castle on what is today's Vienna's oldest square, the Am Hof (which means "at court"). The grand residence hosted such luminaries as Barbarossa and Walter von der Vogelweide, the minnesinger who stars in Wagner's Tannhäuser. The baroque Column of Our Lady in the center dates from 1667, marking the Catholic victory over the Swedish Protestants in the Thirty Years' War (1618–48). The onetime Civic Armory at the northwest corner has been used as a fire station since 1685 (the high-spirited facade, with its Habsburg eagle, was "baroqued" in 1731). The complex includes a firefighting museum that's open on Sunday mornings. Presiding over the east side of the square is the noted Kirche Am Hof ("kirche" means church), adjacent to the newly-opened Park Hyatt, which took over the former grand headquarters of a bank. At No.13 is the fairly stolid 17th-century Palais Collalto, famous as the setting for Mozart's first public engagement at the age of six. This was but the first showing of the child prodigy in Vienna, for his father had him perform for three Viennese princes, four dukes, and five counts in the space of a few weeks. This new arrival from Salzburg set Vienna on its ear, and he was showered with money and gifts, including opulent children's clothing from Empress Maria Theresa. In Bognergasse, to the right of the church, is the Engel Apotheke (pharmacy) at No. 9, with a Jugendstil mosaic depicting winged women collecting the elixir of life in outstretched chalices. At the turn of the 20th century, the inner city was dotted with storefronts decorated in a similar manner; today this is the sole survivor. Around the bend from the Naglergasse is the picturesque Freyung square. Am Hof hosts one of Vienna's celebrated Christmas markets.