The Sound of Music Tour, Salzburg
Panorama of Salzburg city from the top of Mönchsberg. On the right is the Salzburg fortress and on the hill on the left is the Capuchin Monastery
Only the night before we watched the epic movie The Sound of Music one more time. There were two reasons. One was to get into the mood of the movie & remember the lyrics and the second was to get an answer to my age-old question “where was The Sound of Music filmed?” and make note of various movie locations and try to track them in real life during our Sound of Music Tour.
It was several decades back when it was first released in India and it left a lasting impression, not the story but the music. (The other musical that impressed me was My Fair Lady, around the same time). Soon after, an LP record was duly acquired and played endlessly till it became scratchy.
At that age (I was just a small kid), Nazis and WW2 did not mean a thing. It was only later while reading history I could connect the dots. That was the time I promised myself that someday in my life I would go to those very places where the movie was shot.
Nisha too had had a similar desire in her childhood and so when we planned our 100+ day #NiVaEuro trip, we created an opportunity to spend some extra time in Salzburg. Yes, the city where it all happened.
The movie, as we all know, is based on the memoirs of Maria Von Trapp called The Story of the Von Trapp Family Singers and the Broadway musical The Sound of Music. Mind you, there was another movie on the subject in German in the fifties which was quite a hit in Austria and Germany. We are told that the German version inspired the Broadway musical.
So here goes The Sound of Music Tour of its Movie Locations in Salzburg and around.
Let’s start at the very beginning at Salzkammergut (Sound of Music Movie Location #1 )
The opening scenes were shot from a helicopter over the lake region of Salzburg, Salzkammergut. We found that the lake region was one of the most picturesque area near Salzburg. The shimmering blue lakes of Fuschlsee, Wolfgangsee and Mondsee were treat to eyes. We believe if one has to do a day trip then this undoubtedly makes the list. What’s more! These lakes are quite close to each other and there are many more lakes around this region.
The title song The Sound of Music was sung by Maria while cavorting on the fields and meadows of Mehleweg about 18 KM from Salzburg. It is in Germany. Maria however claims that she was in Untersberg Mountains when questioned by Mother Abbess. We were told that it was a private property and the owner almost never allowed pesky tourists. 😉
How do you solve a problem like Maria at Nonnberg Abbey
Maria is late for the evening prayers while the Mother Abbess and sisters are discussing (musically) with exasperation what to do with this flibbertigibbet. This is filmed at the Nonnberg Abbey which is in existence since early 8th century. It was burnt and built a few times. The current structure is the same as it was in the 17th century. No one except the nuns are allowed inside the abbey, so the filming was done in Hollywood sets.
We had a fleeting glimpse of Nonnberg abbey while driving. The access street to the abbey on the hill was too narrow for our coach to negotiate.
Mother Abbess sends her off as a governess to Captain Von Trapp’s seven children, Liesl, Friedrich, Louisa, Kurt, Brigitta, Marta and Gretl in the order of age, oldest to youngest.
I have confidence in confidence alone!
There is a scene where Maria coming out of the abbey looks down at the beautiful city of Salzburg. In reality, it is not possible as the abbey is located on the other side of the fortress. The scene was shot from the Humboldt terrace on top of Mönchsberg hill that is now the site of the new Museum of Modern art. We took the lift to the top of the hill and were rewarded with one the best views of Salzburg city and Festung Hohensalzburg (Salzburg Fortess). We lost track of time and ended up staying till the darkness fell.
Maria then passes through the old town arches and Residenzplatz square and splashes water from one of the most magnificent and complex fountains we saw in Salzburg called the residence fountain or Salzburg fountain. Four horses seem to jump out of the fountain while snorting water. On the rock are three giants holding up a basin with three dolphins. They are in turn holding up a smaller basin on which stands Triton, son of Neptune, blowing water into the air through his ever-present conch shell. Whew! This fountain is again seen in the scene where Maria comes to the market with the children for Do-Re-Mi and yet again when Nazi soldiers march in.
She then takes the bus to Captain’s residence. She runs down the Helbrunner Allee singing I have confidence in me. In the movie the real house of Captain Von Trapp is never shown. The gate, façade and the front yard is of Frohnburg Schloss (Schloss = palace) which has been converted to a music school nearly 200 years ago.
All the scenes inside Baron’s house were recreated in Hollywood. The real Von Trapp house address is Villa Trapp, Traunstraße 34, 5026 Salzburg and anybody can go and stay there. 🙂 It is also fondly called the Sound of Music House!
Fellows I meet may tell me I’m sweet!
While having dinner the same day, Rolf the postman brings a telegram to the Captain. The plot thickens :-)… The captain is going away to Vienna to get his “friend”, the Baroness Elsa Schraeder and Uncle Max. In the meanwhile, the eldest daughter Liesl who secretly loves Rolf, slips away from the table furtively and the young couple sing I Am Sixteen Going on Seventeen. Then there was a thunderstorm.
There is an energetic dance action within a Gazebo. We had a peek inside the gazebo. It looked too small for the action packed sequence and also considering the camera crew would have been there. The guide then explained everything. While the outside shots were of the real gazebo, it was too small for the dance sequence. So they built a much larger gazebo back in Hollywood to complete the song sequence. The original gazebo, which was in the garden of Schloss Leopoldskron, was gifted to the city of Salzburg and installed at Schloss Hellbrunn Gardens.
Captain and Maria too sang the song Something Good here before their wedding scene.
When you sing you begin with Do-Re-Mi
Maria wants some cloth material to stitch play clothes for the children. Captain refuses. She makes dresses out of drapes which was anyway going to be changed.
After Captain leaves, Maria and Children leave the house on to Helbrunner Allee. Cut to Salzburg town. While instrumental version of These are a few of my favorite things plays in the background, one can see them running and prancing around Mozartsteg, Salzburg Cathedral, Salzburg fountain, Deo Trino Statue, Karajan Square & the “Horse Pond” (Pferdeschwemme) at the base of Mönchsberg, Salzach River away from the town then to Werfen which has a beautiful castle and meadows and an Ideal spot for picnic. Maria teaches the children how to sing Do-Re-Mi to impress the Baroness. Scene cuts to the Humboldt Terrace again with Salzburg Festung (fortress) in the background. Then to Altstadt (old city) streets on a carriage.
Towards the end of the song , the group sings in the Mirabell Gardens where we can see the Pegasus Statue, Arbor tunnel, the central fountain called Vier Elemente Brunnen or the Four Elements Fountain, other statues and finally on the steps of the garden, the song ends. The biking scene is along the lake Mondsee.
We found that each one of the place is worth a visit especially the Mirabell Gardens. There is a lot to be explored in the Gardens. At this point we must caution you that not all the places mentioned here are near to each other. One would need considerable time to walk or even drive to cover all the locations.
Boating Scene at Leopoldskron lake
Captain along with the Baroness and Max returns after a few days (unannounced) and sees the children on top of trees and does not recognize them and dismisses them as “Some Urchins”. Some said these trees line the road from Mondsee town to Mondsee lake but we found that it could not have been that street.
Later when they reach home we see the back of the house which is on the banks of a lake. The back of the house scenes were of a different palace, the Schloss Leopoldskron. While we could not go up to the palace, we had a long shot of the house and the lake on which the Children were boating and fall off upon seeing the Captain near the steps. As also of the platform on which the children are introduced to the Baroness. We had a glimpse of the terrace on which they have the famous “Pink Lemonade” 🙂
The guide told us that during this shot the youngest one almost drowned. Apparently it was decided that Maria and Gretl would fall on the same side of the boat and Maria would rescue her since Gretl did not know how to swim. Unfortunately all children fell forward but Maria losing her balance fell backwards. One of the film crew then rescued her.
A lot of other songs of the Sound of Music
Most of the songs were inside the house filmed in Hollywood sets. However when we were in the tour coach, we had fun time listening to little anecdotes by the guide and also whole bus full of people sang along when the music was played. Every passenger tried their hand in yodeling at the Lonely Goatherd song. 🙂
Wedding at St Michael Church in Mondsee
One thing leads to another. Maria returns to the Abbey, Children miss her and come to visit her, Maria realizes she loves the Captain and the Children too much and comes once again to the Von Trapp house, much to the chagrin of the Baroness, who clears out soon.
As per an anecdote, the original Maria Augusta Kutschera by her own admission said that she loved the children a lot. And in a way she married the Captain because of the Children.
As per the facts the wedding was supposed to take place in Nonnberg Abbey. Filming was not allowed inside and so the wedding scenes were shot in a grand and beautiful St Michael’s Church in the quaint little town of Mondsee.
Owing to immense popularity of the Sound of Music Tour there was and still is a veritable queue to get married in that church. On the day we went at least 2 couples were waiting while one couple were exchanging the vows inside. 🙂
Hitler’s Nazi annexes Austria and Swastika flag (“flag with a little black spider” in the words of Gretl ) is flown all over Salzburg including the Residentzplatz square while the Captain is still on his honeymoon. Herr Zeller, the Gauleiter, goes looking for the Captain and reaches the Felsenreitschule or the Rocks Riding School converted into an auditorium of sorts. Uncle Max is rehearsing with the Children.
We tried twice to get into the auditorium but could not. Once we were late and second time it was closed (no reasons were offered). So it is a good idea to find out when it is open before going there.
The Great Escape from Nazi and Austria
Upon his homecoming the Captain is given the option of serving Nazi’s or else. Being a staunch Austrian he knew refusal would mean imminent danger to him and his family and serving Nazi was out of question. As part of the escape plan the Von Trapp Family of Singers sign up for the music festival.
The singing competition is at the same auditorium and Max has arranged their escape in a car. They sing Do-Re-Mi, Edelweiss, So long farewell as you may all remember. The family members in small groups leave the stage by the side stairs leading to Toscaninihof Courtyard and later the nuns hide them all at the Abbey.
When Nazis come looking for them, they hide in a cemetery. That cemetery scene was inspired by the cemetery which is near St. Peters Church. The Saint Peter’s Cemetery and Catacomb is worth a visit for its beautiful layout and colorful plants. We went there more than once and also climbed up the catacomb which was never used.
Finally they escape on foot across the border to Switzerland, where Untersberg is shown as Switzerland. There is a cable car that takes you to the top of mountain which is also a popular skiing spot.
We took the Sound of Music guided tour by Panorama Tours and Travels. Their Sound of Music tour is perhaps one of the most sought after coach tour in Salzburg, maybe even Austria.
Their claim to fame is that during the original shooting, the Panorama Company in its earlier avatar had provided logistic support to the actors, crew and equipment and they know exactly where what happened.
The tour covers Leopoldskron Palace at Lake Leopoldskron reflecting the palace, Hellbrunn Palace, Gazebo, passing by Nonnberg Abbey, Salzburg Lake District, passing Lake Fuschl and Lake Wolfgang, Mondsee – Wedding Chapel.
Our guide was game enough to lead us up the Mirabell garden path too… quite literally. 🙂 🙂
We explored all other places by ourselves by public transport and on foot. Bicycles are also an option.
While the movie story is changed from the real memoir, considerably at places, to make it more dramatic, I am positive that most people wouldn’t mind it 🙂
I might add that while writing this article I saw the movie once again! And we have a feeling you would too.
We would like to know how many of you watched the Sound of Music again after reading this. 🙂
Very nicely written. I did not know they have this kind of tour. It would have been overwhelming to see those places again.
Thanks Rakesh. It was indeed an enjoyable tour.
Love handy lists like this, very helpful for movie fans. The St Peter Cemetery and Catacomb looks so cool. When I saw the Sound of Music, I thought that was actually an indoor movie set, apparently it’s a real place! The Nonnberg Abbey looks like an interesting place to visit, too!
Thanks Jolina. I guess most of the indoor shots were in Hollywood sets but outdoor locations are for real. 🙂
This post was strangely nostalgic for me. I wasn’t around when it released in India, but my dad got a VCR cassette and we saw it on TV and were completely mesmerized by it. For me too, the movie was first a musical musical with a few bad guys thrown in. Of course, I now see the context better and love the movie even more…
Salzburg…I didn’t realise that the movie was based there. And of course, it’s absolutely fascinating to track down the locations of your fav movie when in town. It’s even more fun when your partner and you are on the same page 🙂 I will try and do this for a movie in India too…maybe Mumbai 🙂
Thanks Sid. In fact there are whole lot of movies I used to like then, I would like to see them again to see if they excite me still. Sound of Music definitely did! If it is Mumbai we would like to join you too. 🙂
In chasing scenes from a fictional story, it sounds like you had a fantastic time getting to know a real place! It makes sense, but I had no idea that so much of the movie couldn’t actually be filmed in the accurate places – like the gazebo and the Abbey. Side note, St. Michael Church looks absolutely astounding, even without the movie connection. Thanks for the wonderful guide!
Thanks Meagan.The movie is not fictional but based on the real life story of Maria Von Trapp and her family. You might want to read the original book too. https://www.amazon.in/Story-Trapp-Family-Singers/dp/0060005777/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1513832543&sr=1-1&keywords=von+trapp
Hey Nisha! I don’t know many times I have seen the Sound of Music. I really loved that movie! I am so envious you got to visit the locations. I would be so awed if I had that chance. This is a great post, I can’t believe you did almost a scene by scene review haha
Ha Ha Aleah. Thanks a lot. I am sure one day you will be Salzburg doing this.
As a massive Sound of Music fan, I approve of this post 😀 ! I was visiting Vienna a couple of years ago and made sure I had a day out of my itinerary for a trip down to Salzburg. I downloaded the soundtrack on my ipad and had it blasting through my head phones! Mirabelle Gardens was my favorite – in having researched this quite extensively, I’ll give you credit for this being the most comprehensive sound of music filming locations post I’ve read to date!
Thanks Megan, for your kind words. It was great fun singing all the songs with 40 other strangers in the coach. 🙂 Mirabelle was our favorite too.
It’s so lovely that you visited the locations where Sound of Music was filmed. Salzburg looks gorgeous, your pictures really bring out the best in the city. I haven’t been there yet but I am going in a week to experience the Christmas markets. I’m sure it’ll look very different then but it’ll be gorgeous nevertheless. Thanks for sharing this post!
Thanks Medha. Good to know you will be there during Christmas. Will wait for your updates 🙂
Honestly, I haven’t seen Sound of Music movie until the day. But after reading your post and seeing the pictures, I feel that I have missed something really interesting and should now check it out at earliest.
Hopping over to the places where your favorite movie was shooted will be so much fun. Loved the way you have written this guide. It is going to be super helpful to people who are planning to take a trip to Sound of Music movie location in Salzburg.
Thanks Suruchi. I think you won’t be disappointed by the movie. Just a caution, it is about 3 hours long!
First of all GORGEOUS. I would love to see this in person. This makes me want to watch the Sound of Music. The bus looks pretty cool too. Great how you were able to match up all the places with the exact scenes from the movie.
Thanks Holly. The tour helped us start planning and all other nook and corners we could then cover on our own.
So jealous of this tour! I was supposed to do it few years ago but had to skip Salzburg and Lake Bled to go to Croatia. I love this movie and this was the sole reason I wanted to do Salzburg.
Wow! I am sure time will come and you will be in Salzburg. Good Luck!
I must admit, I’ve never seen any of the Sound of Music films (and I’m German ;-)). But even without any of that knowledge, it was lovely to join you on your journey through Austria. Your photos are gorgeous!
Happy continued travels!
I visited most of these places! It is indeed such a beautiful place. Great article!
Stunning post and gorgeous shots
That’s amazing. Sound of Music is one of my favs and I watched it again with my wife just the other day. This post is fantastic.
Great post and lovely pictures
How cool is this?! What a great portrayal of all the places in this movie. We recently enjoyed some time at the von Trapp family lodge in Vermont, so really enjoyed the timing and information in your post!
This is amazing! It was one of my favourite movies as a child! It makes me want to watch it again seeing all these photos! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Wow that was just awesome thanks for the tour through the sound of music locations and with Such stunning pics.
Honestly, I haven’t seen those movies ever. But even though I don’t know about the movies, the way you wrote them in detail makes it really exciting for me like I am watching a movie right now.
It is such an interesting read and the place is majestic. The architecture, garden design, the nature and everything!
The Sound of Music is one of my favorite movies of all time. I was just in Vienna this past November and wanted to day trip to Salzburg and see this for myself. However, it was not possible. I am so loving the Arbor tunnel. How cool is that to experience all of the this?
gosh that’s a film from my past. I really didn’t realise all the locations were still there – and some of them I remember quite vividly from the film (like the ‘I am 16’ arbour). What a great post.
This post makes me smile! I was a little kid when this movie came out and now I DO want to see it again. Especially now after seeing your photos. I can’t remember the last time I saw it, but I’m sure it was a very long time ago.
I love The Sound of Music! I vaguely remembered watching the animated cartoon, ‘The Trapp Family Singer’ when I was a little girl, too.. So glad to see that tours like this are available, especially for a classic movie such as ‘The Sound of Music’.. It’s so nice to see the movie locations through your photos.. Your post definitely brought back memories of younger years! 🙂
This tour sounds like such a lovely experience. I have not watched the movie in years, but now you have put me in the mood to, especially after seeing your photos so then I can match them up!
Oh my my. I’ve not heard of Salzburg but I’m so taken breathtakingly at this beautiful scenery. The evening view from Moenchsberg is the highlight for me. I love both lakes too. This place is a dreamland outta the film. I’d also love a wedding here
This would be my dream! I love Sound of Music. Oh! The Gazebo! I had such a crush on Rolf when I was growing up. Salzburg is such a picturesque destination. Now I gotta rewatch Sound of Music!
Salzburg seems like paradise on Earth, Vasu. The film crew definitely chose a perfect location. I will have to add it to my bucket list now after reading your post, both the film and the location. 😉
After reading this, I really need to go back and watch the movie, I was a kid! Love the theme of this blog and who knew you don’t even need to scout out the locations yourself there is a tour that can show it all. Thanks for the informative post, beautiful pictures!
I watched the film a couple of times when I was a kind but everything (songs included) was translated into Spanish so it was difficult to follow your descriptions sometimes. It looks like a popular tour this one and even if you are not a fan of Sound of Music I think it is really worth it because the locations are spectacular. A pity that we cannot visit the abbey.
I loved the Sound of Music as a child and for the most part thought it was mostly fictional. It’s really interesting to read about your tour experience and seeing the actual photos of the place. What a lovely experience. Reading this makes me want to watch the movie all over again! Great post!
You have captured every scene and every moment of this classic film! It’s amazing that you saw the actual places which were featured in the film. I have seen Sound of Music countless times and I can recite every song and dialogue from the film 🙂 And I wouldn’t mind watching it again and again.
The Sound of Music Tour! So cool.
The whole movie just through my mind, thanks to your pictures and post.
Now I want to go watch that classic once again.
Lovely pictures, lovely post, guys. 🙂
I was just thinking about the Sound of Music because it turns out their real descendants live just north of me in Vermont! I had no idea where all of these locations were, and the bus tour seems ideal for seeing them all. They look lovely!
What a wonderful post on the iconic film. Honestly, I never knew that the film was shot in Salzburg. Vasu – what a lovely way to take us location by location. Now, I need to go back and watch the film again.
This is one of my favourite films from my childhood and I, now definitely planning to go home and watch it. I had no idea it was based on a true story though?
Great write up! Salzburg was my favourite in Austria – it (as you have very nicely photographed!!) is just so gorgeous!
Thank you very much.
No doubt about that, Salzburg is just so beautiful.
The strings of Do Re Mi ring in my ears as I read your post. You have brought alive the sounds of the Sound of Music in vivid colour and melody. Salzburg is a real gem and definitely the locations of the iconic movie are a must visit. We have been planning an east europe itinerary for some time now with of course Salzburg included, but it has still not seen the light of day. BTW a great idea to watch the movie before heading there.
Yes, we also thought it was a great idea to watch the movie once again just before we took this tour. It reminded us of a few things which otherwise we would have forgotten. 🙂
Let’s know when you plan the East Europe trip.
I love the Sound of Music. It’s my childhood right there and it’s amazing you go to these places and associate it with the scenes. The sights are absolutely beautiful and I hope I can go someday.
I’ve never actually seen the sound of music, but I’d still like to go to Salzburg and explore the area anyway. Those lakes look stunning, what a picturesque place!
Such an elaborate and heartfelt post, Nisha. Brought back my childhood and first visit memories. Sound of music is one of my all-time favourite movie and was the main reason why I visited Salzburg. It’s so wonderful to know that you actually matched each and every location with the movie.
The reason I want to visit Salzburg is exactly this! I am a huge Sound of Music fan, so this post is super useful to me. The gazebo at the Hellbrun Schloss Garden is absolutely iconic with the song I am Sixteen, I really want to stand there and pretend I am Liesl! The view of Salzburg from Moenchsberg is breathtaking.
I have distinct memories of sitting on a boat on the lake singing at the top of my voice rather badly, what I think was the entire sound track of the Sound of Music. I’m pretty sure everyone else was too!
The cemetery scenes were filmed in Hollywood but the set was based on St Peter Friedhof (cemetery). I am going to Salzburg next week and seeking out the Humbold Terrace. It is a wonderful city and surrounding countryside.