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.
Table of Contents
- 1 The Sound of Music Tour, Salzburg
- 1.1 Let’s start at the very beginning at Salzkammergut (Sound of Music Movie Location #1 )
- 1.2 How do you solve a problem like Maria at Nonnberg Abbey
- 1.3 I have confidence in confidence alone!
- 1.4 Fellows I meet may tell me I’m sweet!
- 1.5 When you sing you begin with Do-Re-Mi
- 1.6 Boating Scene at Leopoldskron lake
- 1.7 A lot of other songs of the Sound of Music
- 1.8 Wedding at St Michael Church in Mondsee
- 1.9 Anschluss Österreich
- 1.10 The Great Escape from Nazi and Austria
- 1.11 General Information
- 1.12 Liked it? Pin it.
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. 🙂