It’s been almost 60 years since The Sound of Music was released (1965). Everyone remembers Julie Andrews singing “The Hills Are Alive,” but not many know where the Alps behind her are. They are in Austria, along with the rest of the locations used for the movie. It was the home of the real von Trapp Family, and it’s possible to relive one of the world’s favorite family films during a tour in that European country.
Watch the Movie
The Sound of Music movie was first a Broadway musical that premiered in New York City in 1959. The original songs by Rodgers & Hammerstein and the adaptation of the book by Maria von Trapp (1949) entitled “The Story of the Trapp Family Singers” led to the show’s huge success. They were all on board to make the film and shoot in Austria.
Filming began in 1964 when director Robert Wise brought 250 actors and crew workers to Salzburg, Austria, and its surrounding cities. The decision paid off with five Academy Awards, a ranking as the highest-grossing movie, and a following that has yet to be matched by any single film.
Of course, a good part of the film’s success is owed to the casting of Julie Andrews, but the scenery was also an important character. The sites tell the story of the von Trapp Family from the beginning. It is estimated that 300,000 people now visit the film locations every year.
See the Sites
Seven sites used in the filming of The Sound of Music remain open for touring in Austria:
The Lake District in Salzburg is where you can see the gazebo used in the filming of the song “Sixteen Going on Seventeen,” in the film.
Those breathtaking Alps where Maria sings “The Hills Are Alive” can be seen from a few different spots in Austria. One of the best places to see this site is at Mondsee Lake.
The Mondsee Cathedral is where Maria and Captain von Trapp held their wedding in The Sound of Music.
The Mirabell Gardens date back to the 18th century. The gardens, especially the spot where there is a statue of Pegasus (the winged horse), was used to film the scene where Maria and the children sing “Do-Re-Mi.”
Although Leopoldskron was not the castle the von Trapp family lived in, the front of the castle was used in the film to show the family’s mansion. The lake and the terrace were used in the movie. A set was also created to copy the Venetian room at Leopoldskron Castle and use it for the ballroom scenes of The Sound of Music.
Hellbrunn Castle, which was built in the 17th century for Prince Markus Sittikus, houses the pavilion here is where one of the movie’s most popular songs, “I am 16 going on 17,” takes place.
Nonnberg Abbey is one of the oldest abbeys in Europe, dating back to 714. This is the real abbey where Maria was a novice and the place where Maria and Baron von Trapp were married (1927). The film shows Nonnberg Abbey in the opening scenes.
Take a Tour
The Sound of Music tour has been the most popular one for the past four decades. You’ll find a number of different companies offering the tour, but Salzburg Sightseeing was the original tour company for Sound of Music tours. In fact, the Albus company they use was involved in making the movie in 1964. It was their bus Maria took in the film.
You can also do the tour on your own. Visit the Salzburg Tourism website for details on how to get to each location. The site also offers information on the ability to stay at Leopoldskron Palace, used for a number of scenes in the movie.
Try a River Cruise
Another way to visit the sites and hear the story of the Sound of Music is on a river cruise. Many river cruise companies offer cruises on the Danube that take you through Austria and offer a glimpse into the scenes of the film with a tour to Salzburg with guides knowledgeable about the movie and the von Trapp family history.
If you can’t make it to Austria…
You can visit the real von Trapp family, at least their descendants, at the Trapp Family Lodge, an accommodation they own in Stowe, Vermont. The family settled there after touring the United States. Maria Agatha Franziska Gobertina von Trapp, the second-oldest daughter, was the last of the original family to survive. She died in 2014 at the age of 99.