The charm of the Getreidegasse, probably Salzburg´s most famous shopping lane, is not only generated by the high, narrow houses tightly nestled together, the enticing shops and the wrought iron guild signs, but also to the romantic passageways and courtyards. The name "Getreidegasse" underwent an interesting transformation. Initially it was known as Trabegasse, Trabgasse or Travgasse, derived from "traben" (to trot). Later it transmuted to Tragasse, Traidgasse, Getreidgasse and finally to Getreidegasse. Thus, the street originally had nothing to do with cereal (Getreide).
The row of buildings along the Judengasse and Getreidegasse developed downstream from the former merchant settlement on the Waagplatz ("weighing square"). They were prevented from further expansion by private property borders to the south and west and by the city walls and the Salzach River to the north.
Typical of these houses are the windows which become smaller from the first floor upwards and their beautiful portals, such as the portal of No. 9, Mozart´s Birthplace. The Mozart Museum is located in the rooms formerly occupied by the Mozart Family. Although the houses in the Getreidegasse appear to be very narrow they are not small, extending far back in depth on both sides of the street. In former times the space behind the row of houses was mainly used as a garden. Later the gardens gave way to workshops, storage buildings, stables and apartments for domestic servants. When the rear buildings were connected to the main buildings, the typical courtyards were formed.
During recent years the rear buildings were used by the domiciled shops to increase their selling area. The passageways became shopping passages which also serve as covered galleries.
These interconnected buildings have given Salzburg a certain architectural flair. Each courtyard is a work of art in itself: columns, vaulted passageways, chapiters, moulded cornices, reliefs, marble balustrades, engraved building names and dates. Pergolas, steep and narrow steps as well as colorful flower arrangements in the arcades create a unique atmosphere.The Schatz Haus passageway leading from Getreidegasse 3 to University Square is probably the most frequented passageway. An impressive relief portraying the Madonna with Child is located in a dark niche. A plaque also commemorates the stay of the German socialist leader, August Bebel. The courtyards, most of which are decorated with arcades, are an absolute must when visiting the city.
Today most people are attracted to the Getreidegasse because of its multitude of shops selling jewelry, "Trachten" or traditional costumes, the latest fashions, antiques, leather and paper goods, parfumes, delicatessen and just about anything one could want. Even today, the elegant and intricate guild signs of the restaurants, shops and workshops project above the visitors´ heads. Many of these elaborate "advertising signs" are the product of skilful craftsmanship.