Prince Archbishop Johann Ernst Graf von Thun (1687 - 1709) had the famous Mirabell Gardens remodelled in 1690 according to plans by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach. They were redesigned around 1730 by Franz Anton Danreiter.
The Pegasus, designed by Kaspar Gras from Innsbruck (1661), was placed here in 1913 after having stood on Chapter Square, Mirabell Square, Makart Square and even in a museum (under a staircase). The 4 groups of figures around the fountain were sculpted by Ottavio Mosto (1690) and symbolize the 4 elements: Fire (Aeneas` flight from Troy), Air (Hercules` battle with Antaeus), Earth (Pluto, lord of the Underworld abducting Zeus` daughter Persephone) and Water (Paris carrying off Helen, precipitating the Trojan War).
The mythical figures on the balustrade are the work of Bartholomäus van Opstal and Johann Fröhlich. The copies of the famous "Borghese Fencer" are attributed to Andreas Götzinger (the inner pair) and Michael Bernhard Mandl (the outer, artistically more valuable pair). The pedestals bear the coat of arms of Salzburg`s Archbishop Johann Ernst Graf Thun (1687 - 1709). The elaborately decorated vases on the balustrade were built after plans by Fischer von Erlach.
The Heckentheater (Hedge Theater) is located on the west side of the Gardens. Built between 1704 and 1718, it is one of the oldest hedge theaters north of the Alps.
The Zwerglgarten (Dwarf Garden) dates back to Archbishop Franz Anton Graf Harrach, who had a dwarf theater with 28 dwarves set up southwest of the palace. Unfortunately, nothing is known of the creator of these "mysterious figures". These pitiful, misshapen beings, attached to almost all of the Baroque European courts for entertainment purposes, were highly respected and well-treated because of their integrity and loyalty. The dwarves in the Mirabell Gardens, made of Untersberg marble, are representative of these grotesque characters.
In concern for his wife and their unborn child, Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria had the disfigured creatures with their goitres and hunchbacks removed from the Dwarf Garden (they were to be destroyed). Fortunately, they were only auctioned off and the dwarves were forgotten for over one hundred years. Not until 1921 did the Salzburg Society for the Preservation of Local Amenities recall this part of Salzburg`s cultural heritage to mind and convince the city councillors to place the nine dwarves then in the city`s possession in their historical positions. Today the carefully restored dwarves are set up in the Bastion Garden and the hope remains that all of the dwarves still preserved will be retrieved and reunited in their historically innate location.
In 1854 Emperor Franz Joseph opened the Mirabell Gardens to the public. It has remained a jewel of horticultural architecture to this day.