Watching The Sound of Music was part of my childhood. It was often on television around Christmastime each year and I knew the songs off by heart. When I finally got a chance to visit Salzburg and see the Austrian setting where the von Trapp family drama took place it was a dream come true. In fact it was one of those travel dreams where the reality was even better than the film.
This year Salzburg is celebrating 50 years since the world was introduced to this story via the film based on the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical. It is a wholesome tale of love and family values that has struck a chord (excuse the pun) with so many people. The 1965 film is actually one of the most successful films of all time – it was awarded 10 Oscars – and the Rodgers and Hammerstein songs still fill my head.
Of course the film did take certain liberties with the true life story. Did you know that the von Trapp family didn’t actually hike over the mountains to safety in Switzerland? It would be have been a bit far so they took the train. Georg von Trapp and Maria had several children together after their marriage. And the choral concerts the family embarked upon throughout Europe were financially necessary after the family lost its fortune during the European depression.
The family emigrated to the United States in 1938 because of the political situation and set up a Salzburg-style chalet in Vermont that they ran as a hotel. They continued to give concerts around the world and made many listeners very happy with their joyful music.
When you visit Salzburg it is impossible to miss the groups of tourists touring the city to see the sites where the Sound of Music was filmed.
The 50th anniversary of The Sound of Music was celebrated in style in 2015, with great fanfare. There is to be a grand gala in October, special tours and dinner shows, the Salzburg Marionette Theatre is putting on a special performance, and of course there will be a choir festival.
You can even take a tour of the former home of the von Trapp family. This is the only authentic Sound of Music landmark and it allows members of the public to visit every day at noon.
As for the film locations, take a look at some of the most famous places that appeared in the film and you will be booking tickets to Salzburg straight away!
The Mirabell Palace and Gardens, where Maria and the children dance and sing “Do-Re-Mi” and then run up the steps to the rose hill. Hohenwerfen Castle was another picturesque backdrop for “Do-Re-Mi” and then Maria and the children sing from the observation terrace on the Monchsberg with a view of the city in the background.
The Residenz Square which Maria crosses on her way from the convent to the Trapp Villa to take up her new job, singing “I have confidence in me.”
Nonnberg Convent where the nuns sing “How do you solve a problem like Maria”. The wedding takes place in Mondsee Church.
The Summer Riding School which acts as the festival hall and where Baron von Trapp sings “Edelweiss”.
St Peter’s Cemetery, where the family hides behind the tombstones.
The stunning lakeside Leopoldskron Palace, used as the Trapp Villa in the movie. During the ball Maria and the Baron dance on the balcony. The façade and garden gate of Frohnburg Palace are also used as parts of the Trapp Villa.
Mount Untersberg, Salzburg’s ‘town mountain’ is famously the setting for the opening scene and the final hiking scene.
Hellbrunn Palace, where Liesl and Rolf sing in the gazebo and later the Baron and Maria sing “Something Good”.
The opening scenes of Salzburg and its surrounds feature aerial shots of the moated Anif Palace, as well as lakes Mondsee and Fuschl, St Gilgen and St Wolfgang.
If you are going to Salzburg to experience the home of The Sound of Music, take a look at my posts on a walking tour of Salzburg, some tips on where to eat and drink in Salzburg, and a wonderful day hike in Salzburgerland.
Happy travels and keep singing!
By Natasha von Geldern