I was a kid when I caught ‘the Sound of Music’ fever. As a child growing up in tropical Southeast Asia, watching Julie Andrews prancing on the green plains, with castles and lakes as the backdrop, I had no clue if that was for real.
This winter it couldn’t be more real. We braved the cold, hop-skotching through East Germany, the Czech Republic and finally Austria. Salzburg is a gorgeous alpine city on the northern end of the Alps, with castles and cathedrals poised on hilltops, surrounded by the hollow mountains. Small enough to walk your way around the city, yet big enough to get lost in its labyrinth-like alleys.
Here in Salzburg, we followed the footsteps of ‘the Sound of Music’, visiting the film locations where Julie Andrews mesmerized the world.
Salzach River & Mozart Bridge
Flowing through the heart of the city, the river meanders alongside the Altstadt into its outskirts.The Altstadt, or “old town”, is clustered with baroque towers, quaint bridges and churches . Mozart Bridge is a footbridge that crosses the river, along which Maria and the children run on their way to a picnic, merrily singing ‘Do-re-mi’.
Located on the other end of the river across Old Town, Mirabell Palace’s glorious gardens are its main attraction. Maria and the children dance around the Pegasus fountain in the Mirabell Gardens, singing ’Do-Re-Mi.’ At the far end of the gardens are the statutes that the children mimicked. The Dwarf gnome with the glasses was also featured in the movie.
In the historic quarter stands the Archbishop’s Residence. In the movie, Nazi soldiers were shown marching through the square of Residenz Platz, and Maria crossed the square on the way to the fountain, singing ‘I have Confidence’.
St Peter Cemetery
These catacombs cut into the Monchsberg cliff face is a burial ground for many of Salzburg’s wealthy and aristocratic families. Although all the scenes of the von Trapp family hiding behind the grave stones were recreated back in the Hollywood Fox studio, the setting was made to mimmick this cemetery. What sets it apart from other sites: a haunting ambiance and ornate graves.
Watching over the city from high above, atop the Festungsberg hill, the massive castle doubled as a fortress in its heydays. It is the of the largest medieval castles in Europe. From its gates, you can catch a good panoramic view of the city, with the Salzach River seemingly curving its way in, as well as the surrounding mountains in the opposite direction. Although this castle was not filmed in the movie, it’s an essential part of Salzburg that shouldn’t be missed.
Beyond the City
Around the outskirts of Salzburg, there are plenty of towns and nature to explore. St Gilgen, a picturesque town at the northern end of the Wolfgang Lake, was featured in the opening scenes of the movie. Nearby, the neo-Gothic Anif Castle and the Schloss Fusch were seen in the aerial view shown at the beginning of the movie. To get off the film location trail, travelers can venture further afield and try their hand at skiing in Zell am See, just 98km from Salzburg.
Salzburg can be quite costly, even for European standards. A restaurant meal usually costs around 15euros, including drinks. It’s not easy to find an economy hotel in Salzburg if you’re looking for a central location. If you don’t mind being slightly out of town, there are several good and affordable accommodation options.
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