The overwhelming success of Robert Wise’s 1965 movie masterpiece has given form to a whole new breed of movie fans. Those who love the film know every lyric, dance step and subtle nuance of humor delivered by the films’ stars and have no qualms planning an entire family vacation around the story’s points of interest. For those looking to upgrade their Sound of Music fan game, here are 10 places in Salzburg to visit on your next Austrian vacation.
10. Mirabell Palace and Gardens
You Sound of Music fans will recognize this as the place where Maria and the children sang the ending of “Do-Re-Mi”, but there’s so much more to do here than just re-create the iconic musical number. Steeped in history dating back to the 1600s, the building is home to the famed Marble Hall, once a concert venue for Leopold Mozart and his children and now a highly sought after special events venue. The premises also currently house the Salzburg Mayoral and Municipal Council offices, as well as maintain the renowned Mirabell Garden grounds. Access to both the gardens and the Marble Hall are free of charge, so here you can put your wallets away, hum the tune of the iconic song and bask in the history and beauty that surrounds you.
9. Schloss Leopoldskron
Now a hotel, which you can stay at for the bargain price of $350 USD per night, this palace is a must-see for anyone visiting Salzburg. For lovers of the film, the hotel’s lakeside grounds are the location of all of the waterside scenes of the Von Trapp residence, including Maria’s extremely memorable verbal smack-down with the Captain. The intricate architecture and décor of the building are also worth checking out, particularly the Venetian Room, which is the inspiration for the gilded ballroom in the film.
8. Frohnburg Palace
Though not technically a tourist attraction, (okay not at all, it’s actually a private dorm and concert venue for a Salzburg educational institution) the Frohnburg Palace is on a public street accessible to anyone who wants to catch a glimpse of the Von Trapp residence as depicted in the movie. It was the front courtyard and outer facades of this building that were used as the external shots of the family home. If you’re feeling extra motivated, you can even walk up the property’s surrounding wall like Maria during “Confidence in Me” and re-create her shocked expression in seeing the house for the first time.
7. Nonnberg Convent
The Nonnberg Convent, known in Salzburg as Stift Nonnberg, is the world’s oldest undisturbed convent, with a history dating back to around 713. For Sound of Music fans, this is where many of the film’s abbey scenes were filmed, including the nun’s “Maria” and the children’s gate-side conversation with Sister Margareta. The historical nature of the site also offers tons to see for those who have no interest in the film whatsoever, since the property offers tours of the convent’s Gothic-style church of St. Maria Himmelfahrt, the cloisters, the nuns’ cells, St. John’s Chapel, the Pieta Chapel and a number of smaller buildings.
This performance venue located in the heart of Salzburg in the setting for the film’s Von Trapps’ final farewell to Austria. In one of the most emotionally charged vocal performances of the movie, it’s on this historic stage that the family sings renditions of “Do-Re-Mi”, “Edelweiss” and “So Long, Farewell”. Visitors are able to check out the property as well as get a guided tour; however, this is heavily dependent on the site’s performance calendar since it remains a functioning concert venue.
5. St. Peter’s Cemetery
Though no actual filming was done here, it was this cemetery next to St. Peter’s Church that was the inspiration for the setting of the dramatic graveyard hideaway (and subsequent discovery) of the Von Trapps in the film. While not a typical tourist destination, the cemetery is a surprisingly serene place to visit, with beautifully maintained graves surrounded by Baroque-style open chapels enclosed with wrought-iron gates—the exact model for the family’s hiding place in the movie. Also of interest here (not just for fans of the film) are the carved in catacombs, which include several rooms with altars, murals and inscriptions.
4. Residenz Square and Fountain
Located right in the centre of Old City Salzburg, in front of the Salzburg Cathedral, the Residenzplatz was featured in several of the film’s city scenes. We see Maria cross the square en route to the Von Trapp villa singing “I Have Confidence” and stop at the fountain to splash her fast. It is also used later in the film as the set depicting the changed political situation in the city, as Nazi troops are seen marching menacingly through the center of the square.
3. The Sound of Music Pavilion
This glass gazebo is one of the more iconic settings of the film, where the majority of romantic scenes take place. The external shots of the gazebo were all filmed with the real thing, but due to size (and safety) constraints, the amazing dance number of “16 Going on 17” was filmed in a larger replica of the gazebo at Fox Studios. Originally located on the grounds of Schloss Leopoldskron, the gazebo was later relocated to Hellbrunn Palace Park to be more accessible to tourists. Unfortunately, if you had hopes of grabbing a buddy and re-creating the iconic dance number, you’re a little late to the party—the interior of the gazebo is now locked to the public, apparently due to a high volume of dancing-related injuries among foreign tourists.
2. St. Michael’s Basilica, Mondsee
Located about 30 km away from Salzburg, this church is the stunning filming location for the wedding of Maria and Captain Von Trapp. Found in the beautiful town of Mondsee, the church is a former Gothic monastery, built in the mid-15th century. The film’s overwhelming popularity brought international attention to the property which now attracts over 200,000 annual visitors. Both the site and the town are a must-visit for both Sound of Music fans as well as lovers of history and architecture.
1. The Hills (Mehlweg Valley)
The best reason to visit them is, well, because they’re alive with the sound of music. The hills in the opening sequence of the film are not Austrian at all, and are found in the Mehlweg area, about 17 km from Salzburg and just across the German border. Previous travelers have reported being able to visit the site without much hassle, but before you tie on your apron and twirl your heart out, remember that this specific meadow is private property and it might be a good idea to seek out the owner first (or alternatively, twirl in a nearby location, and get close-to-the-same feeling).