Is just about everywhere.
In fact, one of the things that Salzburg is famous for is being the home of composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and, as you wander the city, you are bound to run into his image as well as places he grew up. As one of the major draws, these locals get busy during travel season and they do charge admission.
Mozart, however, did not compose the melodies that dragged the Gallagher Girls to this great and historical city.
No, it was Rodgers and Hammerstein and the “Sound of Music,” the heroic tale of love, music, and trials based on the lives and goings on of the Family Trapp who resided here.
Salzburg is a beautiful city and, the truth of the matter is, you can’t wander through the city proper without running into an area that was glimpsed in the film, especially in the overview of the city and jump scenes during “Do-Re-Mi.” But we’ll hit more of that later.
While Salzburg proper houses many locations to peruse, to hit many of the main hubs, you really have to get out of the city—like hours outside. But fear not! Tours from many companies will take you to these scattered locations so there are plenty of options for you to shop around with.
We used the same company as we had the day before (Viator’s Super Saver) and, just like that tour, I could really recommend this one.
Where we didn’t hit as many sights as I had thought we would—this is a half day tour—we hit the big stops that we could, were highly entertained between stops (beware there are long periods spent on the coach!), and very educated on both the film, issues of adaptation, and the true history behind the Trapp’s story.
WARNING (this is one of the things we were told on the tour as well): there are a lot of people who are hung up on the idea that the events of this musical are facts, or at least, close enough to fact to accept them as life affirming truths. If you think I’m exaggerating, the tour guide explained that he has been told on multiple accounts that he had “ruined” people’s lives by talking about these changes, so again, be warned.
If you realized that the story changed (after all, this is Hollywood and based on an extravagant musical—neither of these forms take accuracy over flash and story potential, nor should they necessarily!). But alas, to the tour.
There are three major stops on this tour as well as an optional quick stop after the drop off if you are so inclined, and going back by yourself is an option I wish we’d had time to consider.
Our first stop—in the rain, obviously, was the backyard of the von Trap house where many scenes were shot, but, most famously, the capsized boat scene and, just down the road, the children playing in trees. This stop is actually not at the house—buses and the like aren’t allowed in, however, you can apparently walk or bike in and take a look around—but across the water from it. This gives you a great look at this famous spot and is great for photos if only show how beautiful it is, if not for cinematic reasons.
But now onto some Hollywood trickery: this house is the backyard and river front of the house, however, that’s all it is. A different house is used for the actual house front and back (you can imagine how many scenes had to be done over and over in multiple locations!) because they couldn’t get permissions in time to use any of the actual house. But you’d never know watching the film, would you? Oh, the magic of Hollywood!
After this stop, you clamber back on the bus to head out to Schloss Hellbrunn which was built as the summer day palace of Markus Sittikus von Hohenems, Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg. We had visited this site earlier in the trip and, Sound of Music fan or not, it’s a spot you can’t miss and will have to stop back at.
The major draw of this sight is the water gardens. You see, the archbishop was a tricky fellow with a very interesting sense of humor. He’d have high class friends come over for food or events in all their finery and the turn up the taps in these trick fountains. This is really notable in the chairs set up around the outdoor table all of which (except the Dukes, of course) have water capabilities which shoot out the middle of the chairs seat. And, remember, you couldn’t stand if the Duke wasn’t standing, so you can imagine that party…
All in all, take a tour of the gardens when you go back without the tour, but stay alert and be prepared to get a little bit wet!
But the reason we mention this stop on the “Sound of Music” Tour is this is the current location of the official gazebo replica featured in both “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” and “Something Good.” The fact is, you can’t see the original—it’s gone—so this is a great substitute. Unfortunately, after an incident with a woman in her 80s trying to recreate “sixteen”’s more challenging dance steps which ended in injury, you can no longer go inside the gazebo, but seeing the size of it is worth it for a fan of the film.
One other extra, if you take the bus to the end of the line away from Salzburg from this point, you’ll be able to take a cable car up to Untersbergbahn which is the mountain that Maria claims to have grown up on and, therefore, where she could never get lost. The views are great (when it’s clear!) from the top and, if it’s a little gloomy, the views from the cable car will help rectify that loss. This isn’t the mountain where the scene is filmed—you can apparently take private tours to that location and run around singing, however—but another bit of Hollywood magic happens here which isn’t hard to track: Maria really couldn’t have heard the bells and run from the mountain tops to the abbey in Salzburg in the course of the song—in my judgement, that would have been almost a day’s trek, but, for cinematic and tonal reasons, this all make sense.
The last major stop is to Saint Michael’s church where Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer “married” in the film. This, however, is not the real location of the Abbey or where Maria and the Captain were wed. Once again, the Hollywood crew was not given permission for those locations, so the movie simply made do. The strange thing about this location was the sense of size. To me, the church and the central aisle felt so much smaller than it appeared in the movie which was disorienting. Still, this is a lovely location and you can take pictures inside of the church at least when service is not ongoing.
Once you are dropped off, you have the option of going across the street with the tour guide to Mirabell Gardens where much of “Do-Re-Mi” sequence was filmed from the ivy archway to dwarf statue to the stairs where the song finishes. But beyond the park, there are many view and filming spots to be accounted for just wandering the city, but to give you a better idea of what to look for here is a list of locations.
If you love the Sound of Music and want to learn more of its history and stories around the adaptation process, this is a great tour. But one last warning, you will have this soundtrack stuck in your head for days to come, so make sure you can live with that!
This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.