The Sound of Music played on a constant loop through the “timeless” medium of VHS tapes was my childhood. That was my “High school Musical.” I loved the tomboyish nature of Sister Maria and the charming, if no doubt chaotic, way she wormed her way into the hearts of the von Trapp family. It took a couple of years before I realized that the family was escaping from German troops at the end of the film, but the cinematic experience was no less lost on me. Like so many others, I fell in love with the rolling green hills and the sound of music.
It’s no surprise that some opportunistic companies have decided to capitalize on this love for the movie. Pretty much every tour company operating in Salzburg offers some form of the Sound of Music Tour. So it might be hard to keep the sites to yourself since there will no doubt be people at these locations on the holidays. However, the interesting facts the guides offer may be worth it to paint a more accurate picture of the real life of the von Trapps. But if you do want to take on the tour yourself here were some of the destinations we hit.
- Mirabell Gardens and the Pegasus Fountain. This was seen when Maria and the children are dancing on the steps and singing “Do-Re-Mi.”
2. Nonnberg Abbey: the actual abbey where the real Sister Maria resided in when she wanted to become a nun. In the movie the interior shots were recreated sets, but the exterior shots of the abbey were shot there.
It was true that she was a tomboy like how they depicted in the movies. She would be late to mass and would instead be seen exploring the hills. However, she wasn’t as kind-hearted as Julie Andrews and was actually prone to manic rages. She did reveal in her autobiography, though, that she loved the children.
3. Leopoldskron Palace: Some of the exterior shots of the von Trapp residence were filmed here. The iconic lake will most likely jog your memories.
4. Hellbrunner Allee: The scene where Maria arrives at the house is filmed here as with the final verse of “I Have Confidence in Me” where she is twirling around with her giant hat and guitar case.
5. Schloss Hellbrunn: The greenhouse where “I am 16, going on 17” was filmed is located on the palace grounds. It isn’t as substantial as one may think and is actually quite small. No wonder the filmmakers ended up recreating the greenhouse in a studio to film. Visitors are no longer allowed to go inside since everyone inevitably tries to recreate the scene where Liesl jumps from bench to bench, and more than a few injuries have occurred.
6. Rock Riding School: Here is where the final scenes of the von Trapps performing take place. Most of the shots in the movie however come from recreated sets based on St. Peter’s Cemetery.
So yes there is a lot of movie magic involved but was that really so unexpected? The real von Trapp family simply took a train to avoid the war and didn’t have to escape over a mountain. Georg von Trapp as born in Italy and actually had legitimate claim to Italian citizenship so it actually would not have been much of a hassle. Even if they did have to escape, geographically speaking the mountain range they crossed over would have led them into Germany. But it’s still a great experience to see the locations the movie was filmed at or at least based on. So pay attention in Salzburg and look around because,“the hills are alive with the Sound of Music.”