If you have heard of the 1965 blockbuster movie Sound of Music, you would know that it is set in the quaint town of Salzburg. Why not take the chance to visit if you’re ever travelling around Austria?
The movie captured the world by storm on release in 1959, winning five Academy Awards and two Golden Globes, including Best Picture, Best Music and Best Director. It’s certainly a musical that I clearly remember watching as a young toddler. With its enrapturing music and gripping scenes, this story explores the themes of love for family and of music.
Did you know that Sound of Music was actually based on a true story?
- Sound of Music Summary
- Salzburg Sound of Music Tour
- Salzburg Sound of Music locations
- Best Sound of Music tour Salzburg
- Getting to Salzburg, Austria – Distance from Munich to Salzburg
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Sound of Music Summary
The movie is largely based off the autobiography The Story of the Von Trapp Family Singers, written by Maria von Trapp. It follows the story of a free-spirited Austrian woman, Maria, studying to be a nun in Salzburg.
She was sent to a villa owned by a naval Captain who recently became a widower, and took up the role of a governess, watching over seven children. Always responding with patience and kindness, she eventually wins over the trust of the children, and at one point starts teaching them how to sing.
Maria eventually melts the ice within the widower’s heart, and the Captain eventually breaks off his engagement to marry her. At the same time, the children enter a singing competition at the Salzburg Festival.
Unfortunately, Austria then was on the cusp of World War II. The family’s plans are interrupted by news of annexation by Hitler’s Nazi Regime, forcing them to flee for their own safety. The complications arise when family friends, sympathetic to the Nazi Regime, almost capture them – luckily, the Von Trapps manage to sneak away to the Swiss border where they find their freedom.
Salzburg Sound of Music Tour
Going on a Salzburg Austria Sound of Music tour is an absolute MUST. You cannot fully experience the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (yes, it’s a legitimate word, made popular by the movie Mary Poppins, whose eponymous character was coincidentally played by Julie Andrews, who also played as Maria in the Sound of Music – I digress) beauty of Salzburg if you miss out on this tour.
When I was in Salzburg, The Sound of Music tour that I went on took me to all the filming locations of the movie, including some behind-the-scenes shots. It also highlighted how the movie plot was modified from the historical account of the Von Trapp family.
Salzburg Sound of Music locations
Here are some of the landmarks that you will visit on the Sound of Music tour. Not only will you get the opportunity to explore the Baroque city of Salzburg, you will also visit the picturesque Lake District.
1. Mirabell Gardens
Mirabell Palace was completed in 1606 for the then Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich Raitenau’s mistress. The gardens were later built in 1715.
The palace gardens were featured in the song “Do-Re-Mi”, and this is where the tour both starts and concludes.
You can almost see the children skipping, dancing and jumping around the gnome-filled garden, as well as the iconic Pegasus fountain that they leap off at the end of the song.
Did you also know that Mirabell Palace was also where the musical prodigy Mozart would play as a child? Talk about a place steeped in musical history!
2. Leopoldskron Palace
Leopoldskron Palace has been considered the “Sound of Music” palace because of the number of scenes set here: the Venetian Room on the first floor, was replicated to be used as a film set.
The grand, handcrafted gold wall panels and magnificent mirrors inspired the ballroom scene in the film. It was also the backdrop for the private marionette theater performance.
The lake situated within the palace grounds was also made famous by the boating scene held in the Captain’s backyard during the movie.
Today, the Leopoldskron Palace has been refurbished and turned into a hotel, allowing guests to literally live within the set of Sound of Music.
3. Hellbrunn Palace Gazebo
The white musical gazebo, initially featured in the song “Sixteen Going On Seventeen”, was actually situated within the Leopoldskron Palace during filming.
Due to the volume of tourists visiting this gazebo though (every year, over 300,000 tourists flock to Salzburg from all over the world!), it was taken down and rebuilt at its current home in Hellbrunn Palace for fans of the movie to enjoy.
Boasting artistically landscaped gardens, meadows, ponds and a unique mountain panorama, there is no surprise that the Hellbrunn Palace Gazebo is considered an exceedingly romantic place. If you’re lucky, you can even catch people getting married here!
4. Nonnberg Abbey
Nonnberg Abbey has been in continual existence since 714, and is considered the oldest all-female convent north of the Alps. It has been marred by fire over the course of its long history, but has always been rebuilt. The active convent building today has been standing since the 16th century!
The Abbey is significant in both the movie Sound of Music as well as in the real life sotry of Maria Von Trapp. Not only does Maria travel here in preparation to become a nun, she later gets married to the Captain within the Abbey Church. The final, climatic escape scene of the movie was also shot at the carpark here.
Being respectful of its religious significance, the Abbey currently does not allow visits, but you can visit their Gothic church or attend their church services.
5. Salzburg Lake District
This is my favourite part of Salzburg – passing by, I was enthralled by an expansive and unobstructed panorama of rolling grass meadows, framed by Lake Fuschl and Lake Wolfgang.
The Lake District is also geographically unique, as a countryside shared by three Austrian provinces of Salzburg, Styria and Upper Austria. That’s fair, I guess – good things need to be shared!
You can make your visit to the Lake District extra worth it if you drop by the charming village of St Gilgen. Mozart’s mother, Anna Pertl, was born here, which explains why there is a little Mozart museum set up at the town centre if you’re interested in dropping by.
I also visited this village, where the St Michael Basilica dominates the village centre. The movie’s wedding scene was filmed here, where Maria, led by Liesl, walked down the aisle.
When you’re here, be sure to try out their apple strudel, which they claim to be famous for!
7. Mozart Bridge
The Mozart Bridge spans the Salzach River, which meanders through the Altstadt, or Old Town, of Salzburg. Set against a backdrop of baroque towers, labyrinthe streets and quaint churches, the Von Trapp children ran across this footbridge in the movie, singing “Do-Re-Mi”.
Seeing the Mozart Bridge with my own eyes removed any residual skepticism about me not being a fan of Sound of Music. In my mind, I could replay the scenes where the children would peek over the bridge and peer onto the river.
Throughout the bus ride, my memories of watching the movie as a child was jogged as I visited the various sites where the movie was filmed.
Watching Salzburg pass me by through the window, while listening to the melodious film soundtrack was an incredibly emotional experience for me. It’s one of those intimate and introspective moments where I felt extremely lucky to be able to relive my childhood.
Best Sound of Music tour Salzburg
Given the massive popularity of the movie, and the immense volume of visitors that flock to the city annually to relive it, there are quite a few operators running Sound of Music tours around Salzburg, Austria.
You could choose to explore the city on your own by bike, foot or bus, but here, we round up a few convenient tour options for you:
The cheapest one, which was the one I personally went for, only cost €40 for adults and €20 for children, and lasted 4 hours. Make sure you bring water and a snack as it’s a pretty long tour, especially if you’re travelling with young children.
If you’re visiting Salzburg, I highly, highly recommend going on a tour if you’re a Sound of Music fan. If you don’t know anything about this musical, GO WATCH IT!
Getting to Salzburg, Austria – Distance from Munich to Salzburg
Salzburg is relatively close to the Bavarian capital of Munich. Approximately 145 km (or a 2 hour drive) away via the A8 Autobahn, you can also opt to hop on the 23 trains running between the two cities daily.
These tickets can get as low as €6.40 if you book it in advance, allowing you to travel to the setting of Sound of Music in as little as 2 hours! This helps especially if you’re running on a tight budget.19 June 2015, Friday