Salzburg is as well-known for the beautiful baroque architecture of its Altstadt, or Old Town, as it is for being the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and at times the locals are outnumbered by tourists.
But aficionados of the 1965 movie “The Sound of Music” come to see the sights connected with the Von Trapp family and the wayward Benedictine novice Maria. Many of the locations in the movie appear to be within walking distance of each other, but in reality they are spread far and wide. The easiest way to see all of these is on a Sound Of Music Tour and there are several different versions on offer, from Gray Lines’ tour with the original bus company featured in the movie to Frӓulein Maria’s Bicycle Tour.
The Mirabell Gardens, begun along with the palace in 1606, provide the backdrop for Do-Re-Mi, as Maria and the children jump up and down the stairs, and frolic around the Pegasus Fountain and through the gardens. In Spring the gardens flourish and colour abounds.
The lakeside scenes of the Von Trapp family home take place at the baroque Leopoldskron palace, in the back garden and on the patio. This majestic palace is reflected in Leopoldskron Lake, into which Maria and the children topple while in a boat when they discover that Captain Von Trapp has returned with Baroness Schroeder.
The gazebo, scene of the songs “Sixteen going on Seventeen” with Liesl and Rolfe and “Something Good”, the love song of Captain Von Trapp and Maria, was originally near the Leopoldskron Palace. It was moved to a position on the opposite shore of the lake to prevent fans of the movie trespassing. But amazingly the proprietor of the café nearby complained that the tourists were chasing his regular customers away, so the gazebo was dismantled again and placed in the Hellbrunn gardens. It’s locked – sadly you can’t copy Liesl and leap elegantly from one bench to the next while singing!
St Peter’s Abbey is the oldest monastery in the German speaking world. The beautifully kept cemetery behind the Church was the inspiration for the set built for the scenes where the family hides as the Nazi soldiers search for them. The tombs behind the wrought iron gates make for fascinating reading, while the gardens in the cemetery have an air of tranquillity away from the tourist bustle.
To see some of the other film locations it’s necessary to leave Salzburg behind and journey into the countryside. The village of Gilgen, where Mozart’s mother was born, and Lake Fuschl appear at the start of the movie. In the distance it’s just possible to make out, on the side of a mountain, the alpine meadow where Maria sings the title song.
At Mondsee a visit to the Collegiate Church of St Michael is essential as the wedding of the Captain and Maria was filmed here. Experiencing the baroque design of the Cathedral and its lavish interior is worth the journey from Salzburg.
Also at Mondsee is the avenue of trees in which the children are playing as the Captain drives to his home with Baroness Schroeder. Of course in the 52 years since the film was made these trees, which were saplings in the movie, have grown and now they make a shady boulevard in which movie fans from all over the world can sing, kick up their heels and be Maria or Georg for just a little while.