The hills are alive with the sound of music…
Do you remember this song from the movie “The Sound of Music”?
It’s my absolute favorite!
Ever since I watched this movie (and re-watched it about a hundred times!) I made up my mind to visit the beautiful city of Salzburg, home of the Von Trapp family (based on whom the movie was made), before they fled from Austria during the Second World War. Salzburg is also the birthplace of the World famous Musician, Mozart.
The drive from our home to Salzburg took around 5 hours. Since it was Christmas time, we enjoyed beautiful vistas of snow-capped mountains throughout the journey. In Salzburg, we checked into hotel Motel one and took the public bus to Altstadt (Old Town) which is the city`s center. Public transport is pretty cheap here.
From the moment we set foot on Salzburg, I fell deeply in love with it. Located on the banks of the river Salzach, the city is filled with effortless old world charm. Walking around the old town, we admired the beautiful Baroque architecture found in many churches, museums and residential buildings.
Salzburg Cathedral is the most significant religious building in the city. This cathedral was built in honor of Saint Rupert and Saint Vergilius. Over the years, it underwent extensive damage, especially due to fire, but it has been reconstructed and enlarged ever since.
Towering over the city atop the Festungsberg hill and approaching 1,000 years of age is the “Fortress Hohensalzburg”. A visit to this fortress is a must when one is in Salzburg.
It can be reached after a strenuous 15-minute climb from the centre, or a quick ride up via the funicular railway! The fortress consists of various wings and courtyards. Some of the highlights inside the fortress include the Golden Chamber, which is richly decorated with gold-studded ceilings and walls, the Salzburg bull organ, Bedchamber, Torture room and the watchtower. The views from the watchtower are spectacular, giving us a commanding view of Salzburg and it’s surrounding mountains, villages, and foothills.
The next day, we took The Sound of Music tour. It is a bus tour taking us to the sites where the movie was shot. Our tour guide was really cool, telling us anecdotes about the movie, the story of the real Von Trapp Family and some interesting facts about Salzburg. Apparently the movie makers made a lot of changes to the story.
We visited many places like…
Palace of Leopoldskron – The part of the movie where the kids fall from the boat into the lake after the song “Do re mi”, was filmed here with the palace used as the back of the house.
Nonnberg Abbey – This was where Maria was a nun in the movie as well as in real life, but it was also where the real wedding between Maria and the Baron was held in 1927.
The Gazebo – Rolf and Liesl sang ‘Sixteen Going On Seventeen’ under this Gazebo.
St Gilden/Lake Wolfgang – This spectacular vista is seen in the opening credits of the movie. Also, on one of the mountains, the starting part of the song “do re mi” from the movie was shot. St. Gilden is a picturesque village by the Lake Wolfgang where Mozart`s mother was born.
Church of Mondsee – Located in a small town called Mondsee on the shore of lake Mondsee, this is one of the famous churches in Salzburg. This was where the wedding of Maria and the Baron was shot in the movie. The Wedding was shown as a grand affair in the movie while in reality it was a very simple occasion.
Mirabell Gardens – Finally the tour ended at this garden where the ‘Do-Re-Mi’ song was shot with Maria and the children.
While most of the scenes picturized indoors were shot in Hollywood studios, we got to see the places where the outdoor scenes were shot. We also passed the house which was used as the facade of the Von Trapp family home and the mountain Untersberg where in the beginning of the movie, Maria sings “the hills come alive..”
In the end the Von Trapp family are shown to escape over the Alps to freedom in Switzerland (while in reality they took a train to Italy). The best part of the tour was listening to the songs from the movie and singing along with “Maria” as our guide played them on the bus. I highly recommend taking this tour if you are a big fan of the movie just like I am!
Located in the old town is a small Christmas market, known in German as Christkindlmarkt. We spent some time after the tour window-shopping there before dining at one of the restaurants.
We ended the evening by having the famous Sacher torte, a Chocolate delicacy specialized in Austria, and a slice of Apple pie, at the Hotel Sacher Salzburg, where you get the original Sacher torte .
(Another Sound of Music fact- Julie Andrews, the actress who played “Maria” stayed at this luxury hotel during the shoot for the movie).
Finally, on the last day before we began our journey back home, we stopped over at Hallein salt mine. Salt is one of the most important natural resources in Austria. Salz in Salzburg means “Salt”. Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau transformed this treasure of the mountain into hard cash and had Salzburg developed into a magnificent Baroque city. This is one of the oldest mines in the world. The tour around the mine can be accomplished using mine trains, mine slides and a bit of walking.
I’m so glad we took this trip. I look forward to visiting this place again, maybe in Summer?