“Sound of Music” Tour in Salzburg

“SOUND of MUSIC” TOUR in SALZBURG, AUSTRIA: Salzburg become really famous with English-speaking people or at least those who are into English movies by the musical film “Sound of Music”. It was Julie Andrews’ one of the most famous works in her acting career. She played the role of “Maria”, a nun who was appointed to take care of seven children of an Austrian imperial navy captain. Based on a true story of a family with seven children and their father Captain Von Trapp, Christopher Plummer played the role of the captain. The setting of the story was from 1939 during the onset of WWII and the movie was shot in 1965.

I got acquitted with this film when I was very little and my mom used to sing “Do Re Mi Fa…” with much enthusiasm. She even tried to teach us that song (my mom was a professional radio singer and a music teacher) in her harmonium. I have some fond memories with this film and vividly remember my mom singing those melodious songs around the house and doing her chores.

One of the walls in our hotel, dedicated to the movie "Sound of Music", in Salzburg, Austria
One of the walls in our hotel, dedicated to the movie “Sound of Music”, in Salzburg, Austria

In our first trip to Salzburg in April of 2009, we spend all our time in the city looking around its old part and the fortress (Hohensalzburg Festung) on the hill. But this time (during Christmas break in December 2013) we decided to go on with this tour to get out of the city. Also because both of our daughters watched “Sound of Music” so many times that they memorized all the songs and most of the dialogues from it.

We booked the tour with “Panorama Tours”. They are the most popular here for this trip. You can book thru you hotel or reserve your seat online ahead of time, like us. They operate even on holidays like Christmas day! Bus leaves every day at 9:30am and 2pm and lasts for 4 hours. It is 40 euros per adult and 20 euros for children 4 – 12. We were picked up from our hotel around 9:15am and taken to their main office near Mirabell Palace. Bus was about half full because it was Christmas day. The guide was fantastic and so was the driver.

Our "Sound of Music" bus in Salzburg, Austria
Our “Sound of Music” bus in Salzburg, Austria

We were first taken to Leopoldskron Palace, just few kms away from Salzburg old town. This palace was used to only shot the “backyard” scenes of the movie. And the lake you see in the picture is where Maria (Julie Andrews) and the kids fell off the boat in one scene. It is a very scenic spot of Salzburg. We couldn’t go inside or even near the palace since it is not open to public, only saw it from the other side of the lake.

Leopoldskron Palace was used to shoot all the "backyard" scenes of Julie Andrews' "Sound of Music"
Leopoldskron Palace was used to shoot all the “backyard” scenes of Julie Andrews’ “Sound of Music”

Next stop was Hellbrunn Palace garden. This is a bit away from the city. Before entering the palace there is an unpaved and tree-shaded road. This long path was used to shoot a small portion of “I have confidence” song when Maria left her abbey, got of the bus and went to captain’s house for the first time.

The purpose of coming to Hellbrunn Palace was to visit the famous gazebo of “Sound of Music”. It was shown in the songs “I am 16, going on 17” (with Lisle and Rolf) and “Something good” (with Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews). The gazebo was originally located in Leopoldskron Palace garden during the movie but later it was moved here.

The famous gazebo from the movie "Sound of Music" where the song "I am 16, going on 17" was shot, in Schloss Hellbrunn, Salzburg, Austria
The famous gazebo from the movie “Sound of Music” where the song “I am 16, going on 17” was shot, in Schloss Hellbrunn, Salzburg, Austria

From Hellbrunn Palace, we drove by the mountains which you may have seen in the last scene of the movie when the family escape to Switzerland. Another spot we just drove by and didn’t make a stop was Frohnburg Palace. This yellow mansion was used only to show front façade of captain’s home. All the scenes inside the house were done in Hollywood.

Frohnburg Palace, they used only its front facade for captain's home in "Sound of Music"
Frohnburg Palace, they used only its front facade for captain’s home in “Sound of Music”

Third place we drove by without stopping was Nonnberg Abbey in Salzburg, within walking distance from Hohensalzburg Fortress. This abbey is from 740 A.D. and is still active. This is where the real Maria served as a nun. The movie also used the same spot to shoot Julie Andrews’ life as a nun. The abbey is not accessible to public.

From here, we took a long drive through the mountains and lake-district of Salzburg. This was a very scenic drive with breathtaking views of Alps, meadows, trees, and lakes. After passing Fushel Lake, we made a quick stop at Wolfgang Lake in St. Gilgen. This whole region was shown as an aerial view at the very beginning of the movie and the mountains here were used to shoot the infamous “Do Re Mi Fa” song of this movie. Lots of people come here during summer for many water activities, to just relax by the lake, and to enjoy Alpine beauty. By the way St. Gilgen is also the birthplace of famous composer Mozart’s mother.

Stunningly beautiful Lake Wolfgang in St. Gilgen
Stunningly beautiful Lake Wolfgang in St. Gilgen

Our last destination of the tour was the “Wedding Church” in Mondsee. This is the place where Captain Von Trapp and Maria get married in the movie (not in real life). It was a former Benedictine monastery which is now called Parish Church St. Michael or Mondsee Basilica. The original monastery was founded in 748 A.D. Inside the church is extremely gorgeous and elegant, no wonder they chose this spot for their special wedding scenes. This church was selected over the actual abbey (Nonnberg Abbey) for the wedding scene due to its elegance and beauty. Even though in the movie it was portrayed that Maria and Captain got married in Nonnberg abbey!

The "Wedding Church" where Captain and Maria got married in the movie
The “Wedding Church” where Captain and Maria got married in the movie

The small village of Mondsee is situated by stunning Mondsee Lake surrounded by the Alps. The city center where the church is located is absolutely beautiful. We didn’t have time to go by the lake, but I am assuming it must have a breathtaking view.

We were dropped off near Mirabell Palace and Garden in Salzburg at the end of the tour. Few scenes were also done in this beautiful garden. But the most remarkable statue was seen in some scenes was the statue of a Pegasus. It was moved around the city few times, I think, before it could find its final home in Mirabell Garden.

Pegasus in Mirabell Garden which was seen in the movie couple times
Pegasus in Mirabell Garden which was seen in the movie couple times

Overall, this trip is a must for the fans of “Sound of Music”. Not only you get to see some spots of the movie right in front of your eyes but also you get to experience some Austrian Alps and its lake-district. It was a wonderful experience…probably the best part of this trip was when a lady on the other aisle started singing some songs from the movie with the CD our driver was playing on our way back to the town…I felt like I am in the movie singing too. By the way, my favorite song is definitely, “Edelweiss…Edelweiss, every morning you greet me, small and white, clean and bright, you look happy to meet me.” What is your favorite song from “Sound of Music”?

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