Monday 9 November 2015

The Hills Were Alive - Our Sound of Music Pilgrimage!

If you are a regular reader you will know that Disneyboi and I were recently on a trip to Salzburg in Austria. We had a lovely time which you can read about in my previous post.

In that post I alluded to the fact that we went to Salzburg partly because Disneyboi had a special birthday this year, which he shares with the film ‘The Sound of Music’ – let’s just say he is 'as old as the hills'! We are both fans of the movie and wanted to visit some of the locations which featured in the film. Here I want to share with you some of my 'favourite things' from the tour we went on.

One of the best ways to see the sights is by a bus tour, and Panorama Tours are the official Sound of Music Tour operators in the city. We booked with them for the Saturday morning of our visit and arrived bright and breezy with other 'Sound of Music' fans.

David was our tour guide, a cheery chap, full of interesting facts about the movie. We embarked on the pilgrimage to the first location.

First stop was to the side of a lake – looking at the rear of a building - Leopoldskron Palace, just minutes from the centre of Salzburg.  The building wasn’t too familiar, but the lake which we were in front of was. The scenes in the film overlooking the lake were filmed from the rear of this impressive building – now a hotel. But the building used as the Captain’s mansion was actually another building near Salzburg. Hollywood magic came into force here. We could just make out a small patio area from across the lake which is where the scenes were filmed (in the left-hand side of the picture above). It was very misty whilst we were there but the clouds broke not long after.

We got back on the tour bus which then took us a little further out of Salzburg to Hellbrunn Palace. If we had longer to stay in Salzburg, this is somewhere that we would have gone back to visit as it houses a zoo, water fountains and jets, secret grottos, a folklore museum and more. But our purpose was to see the gazebo which featured in the movie, most memorably from the ‘Sixteen Going On Seventeen’ song sung by Charmian Carr and Daniel Truhitte. Although the gazebo used was mostly on a soundstage in Hollywood, a replica was built in the Leopoldskron Palace grounds so it could be seen in the background of scenes.

The replica was moved to Hellbrunn Palace grounds in 1991 so fans could come to see it, as the grounds of Leopoldskron Palace are not for the general public. The gazebo was locked (apparently accidents involving dancing and feet going through panes of glass prompted this). It did look quite small and I’m sure the Hollywood one used for filming must have been a tad bigger!

We journeyed past the Captain’s house, seen in the movie which is now the Mozart Academy or Mozarteum, but unfortunately we couldn’t stop as the tour bus isn’t allowed to...

 Our next journey took us up the alps, through the hills and seemingly far away. The views on offer were stunning. We stopped by a lake which can apparently be seen in the opening sequence of the movie. The view literally took my breath away, the water in the lake was so blue and the little chalet type houses were lovely.

We got back on the bus which took us out to Mondsee, a small town which houses St. Michael’s Basilica – the church used in the wedding scene of the movie. Inside the church looked a lot smaller than it does in the movie – Hollywood trickery at play again. Stunning inside however.

In the gift shop there was a framed picture, signed by Dame Julie Andrews herself. 

 We had some time to wander in Mondsee and it was another moment when we wished we could have stayed a bit longer. 

The bus took us back into Salzburg and our final destination was Mirabell Gardens where a large part of 'Do-Re-Mi' is filmed. We saw the famous steps, the fountain, the statue of the dwarf and the trellis all seen in the movie. There was a wedding going on so things were very busy!

The tour was very good, and I would recommend it. It lasted 4 hours and the soundtrack was played on the bus so you could have a little sing song if you wished. However, due to the way Salzburg is set up, a lot isn’t accessible by tour bus, so Disneyboi and I found our own way to some other film locations by ourselves.

·         We visited the festival halls, one  of which is used in the contest at the end of the Sound of Music, where the family are singing 'So Long, Farewell' then escape the Nazi’s. The imposing stone arches built right into the Monschberg mountain are very memorable. These were outdoors at one point, but a roof has now been constructed over them.

·         We also walked up to the Nonnberg Abbey, which dates back to the mind-boggling 714AD. The abbey is featured in the movie partly inside and outside. The outside was quite recognisable from the scene where the children come to visit Maria when she returns to the abbey. Quite strange thinking the real Maria Von Trapp actually walked through these gates.

·         We took a lift up high, near the Musem of Modern Art, to Winkler Terrace, which also features sights in the movie and a stunning vista of Salzburg.

We also walked over the Mozart Bridge, which can be seen at the end of the Do-Re-Mi sequence.

·         We took the cable car up the Untersberg mountain which is a backdrop at the start of the Do-Re-Mi song. We were looking down to where the children and Maria were sitting in the film.

·    And we also went back to the Mozarteum which was Captain Von Trapp's house in the movie. Mozarteum is a university specialising in music and dramatic arts.

     Although we didn’t venture into the grounds, the outside and walk up to the house look no different to what they were like in the mid-60’s when 'The Sound of Music' was filmed.

·         And right next to the academy we saw a little herd of goats – although no lonely goatherder - a perfect way to finish off our little 'Sound of Music' pilgrimage!

·         That was how we 'do-re'-did it and if you go to Salzburg, I would thoroughly recommend Panorama Tours AND a little walking around the city on your own to find some of the hidden 'Sound of Music' gems!
      Time to say So Long, Farewell until next time...


  1. What a great trip, I'm singing along in my head. Being even older than Disneyboi I actually saw the film in the cinema when it first came out!

  2. Sounds like a fabulous trip.

    Did you know that The Sound of Music was so popular in Britain that the soundtrack was the best-selling album in Britain in 1965, 1966 and 1968? It was pipped in 1967 by some album called Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which was also the biggest-selling album of the decade. The Sound of Music was the second-biggest.

    Looking at this Wikipedia article it's surprising to see that the best-selling albums of the 1960s were largely soundtracks and Beatles albums. And taking the Top 20 best sellers as a whole, they can be broken into 4 categories: soundtracks (3 albums in the Top 20), The Beatles (10 of the Top 20), Simon & Garfunkel (3 of the Top 20) and the rest. At No.20 was The Black and White Minstrel Show. So not everything from the Sixties was cool, man!

  3. I did this tour years ago one Christmas. At the time the Mozarteum housed a Christmas market and was dressed up on the outside as an Advent calendar! Huge fun.

  4. Oh my, I used to know all the songs to the sound of music so this would have been fab for me.

  5. I remember when the film came out in the states - I loved it and it remained my favourite film for years! When I lived in Innsbruck for a couple of years we used to go to Salzburg for the weekend!

  6. I love love love this movie and am so envious of your trip. There are however two things missing.
    1. Somewhere to buy clothes made from curtains
    2. Somewhere to go and climb trees in them

    U x

  7. Such fun Stuart, I would have enjoyed it too. Excellent trip!

  8. Oh what fun. I haven't seen The Sound of Music for years, but reading this, all the songs are bouncing around my head simultaneously. I'd love to go to Austria one day, it looks absolutely stunning.


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