Salzburg - A favourite thing
‘The Sound of Music’ might be 50 years old, but the film is still much
loved by millions of people around the world and the star of the show,
Salzburg, is more beautiful than ever, writes Helen Hayes.
Awidowed naval captain with
seven children hires a nun from
the Nonnberg Abbey in Salzburg
to look after his children. They fall
in love, are married and then
escape their beloved Austria when the Nazis
take over. It is a great story – a love story – and
from the moment it premiered in New York City
on 2 March 1965, it changed the lives of the
Von Trapps, the actors that played them and
the city of Salzburg, for ever more.
Salzburg already had serious musical clout,
being the home of one Wolfgang Amadeus
Mozart, but now most visitors go to Salzburg to
see the sights made famous in ‘The Sound of
Music’. The easy way to do it is with the Original
Sound of Music Tour with Panorama Tours.
The four-hour trip will take you and the kids to
several of the locations, and the commentary
along the way will no doubt increase your
knowledge of all things Sound of Music. Yes,
there will be singing. On our bus it was the
Australians who sang the loudest... and best.
Do Re Mi
In Salzburg, the first stop is Mirabell Gardens
where Maria and the children sang and danced
to ‘Do Re Mi’. The gardens are absolutely
spectacular and well worth a separate visit while
you’re taking in this picture-perfect city. From
here the tour heads to Leopoldskron Palace, a
magnificent building situated on a pretty lake.
The back of the house and the lake itself was
used when the kids and Maria were in a rowboat
before they all fell in. Apparently the water was
freezing on the day it was filmed and Kym
Karath, the actress who played Gretel, couldn’t
swim. The tour also drives past the Frohnburg
Palace which was used as the family home
in the movie.
Next stop is Hellbrunn Palace which is now
home to the famous gazebo of ‘I Am 16 Going
On 17’ fame, and where the Captain and Maria
fell into each other’s arms in ‘Something Good’.
The tour doesn’t visit the wicked gardens with
its trick fountains, so you will need to go back
another day. The kids will love them and there
is a small chance you will get wet!
After a quick stop to look up at Nonnberg
Abbey, where the real Maria lived as a nun, the
tour moves out of town into the Lakes District
past beautiful Lake Fuschl – you will see the
global headquarters of Red Bull here – and
Lake Wolfgang, before stopping at Mondsee
and going into St Michael’s Basilica, where the
wedding scene was filmed. In real life the
Captain and Maria married in Nonnberg Abbey,
but the producers were not given permission to
film in there so St Michael’s was a wonderful
replacement. The little gift shop has postcards showing the cast and crew on site and sells the
book that started this global phenomenon:
‘The Story of the Trapp Family Singers’, written
by Maria Augusta Trapp in 1949.
I have confidence in me
Back in town, stroll around the UNESCO World
Heritage-listed Old Town, past Mozart’s
birthplace in the charming Getreidegasse with
its designer shops and cobblestones, into the
Salzburg Cathedral and onto Residenz Square,
where Maria strutted her stuff singing ‘I Have
Confidence in Me’. You can also take the kids
on a fiaker (a horse-drawn carriage ride) from
here, trotting around the city in style before
spending a couple of hours at one of the
coolest forts your children are likely to see.
Hohensalzburg Fortress was built in 1077
and remarkably its walls were never breached.
These days it is accessed by funicular and has
incredible views over the city. Do an audio tour
and visit the Fort’s Museum, as well as the
Marionette Museum and the kids will be
walking through history.
When you get off the funicular at the bottom,
take a sharp left into St Peter’s cemetery, the
inspiration for the scene in the movie where the
family hides from the Nazis behind headstones.
Established in 1627, the cemetery is tucked up
against, and even in, the sheer rock of the
Mönschberg, with the well-to-do of Salzburg
buried here – including relatives of Mozart and
the composer Haydn. Make sure you go into
the catacombs; the kids will feel like they are in
a Harry Potter movie, with stairways in the rock
leading to old crypts and altars.
The rock of the Mönschberg also features at
the Felsenreitschule (Summer Riding School)
which was shown in the escape scene after the
family performed at the Salzburg Festival. It was
carved into the rock in 1693 and is still one of
the main venues for the Salzburg Festival. The
real Von Trapps actually did perform here
during the Salzburg Festival and won.
To cap off your Sound of Music
extravaganza, book in for the Sound of Music
Dinner Show at Gasthaus Sternbräu where the
kids might be invited up on stage; see the
musical live at the Landestheater, the first
production ever of ‘The Sound of Music’ in
Austria; visit the famous Marionette Theatre
immortalised in the song ‘The Lonely
Goatherd’; and be one of the first to walk the
Sound of Music Trail in Werfen, ending at the
very spot where Maria and the kids picnicked
on the lush green grass during ‘Do Re Mi’,
Hohenwerfen Castle visible in the distance.
Take it from me; the hills of Salzburg are
most definitely still alive with the sound of
music, and much more.