Let’s start at the very beginning. More people visit Salzburg because of The Sound of Music than for Mozart. But whatever your reason for going, there’s no doubt that the city itself is the real star.
From the very first screening of The Sound of Music, it was a phenomenon. As Nicholas Hammond, who played Friedrich in the movie, said to his on-screen brothers and sisters dunng the interval in its very first showing on 2 March 1965 in New York, “Our lives will never be the same from now on.” He was right. This on-screen love story stemmed from the book that started this global phenomenon – The Story of the Trapp Family Singers written by Maria Augusta Trapp in 1949. Maria was a nun. She was at Nonnberg Abbey before going to work with the Captain. She did teach the children to sing and she did marry the Captain. So when you wander around Salzburg. you’ll be stepping in the footsteps of the real Von Trapps, as well as the actors that brought the story to life.
My favourite things
Mirabell Gardens is where Maria and the children sang and danced in Do Re Mi, strutting around the pond and jumping up the stairs. The Gardens are absolutely spectacular and well worth a couple of hours. From here you can see the Hohensalzburg fortress, which was built in 1077 and, thankfully, has a funicular for better access. Its one of the best castles you’ll ever visit – make sure you call in to the marionette museum on site, which has some of the puppets that appeared in “The Lonely Goatherd” scene.
Nearby, you can walk past the gates of Nonnberg where the real Maria was a postulant. Go for an early morning stroll and you might even hear the nuns singing. You can also see the striking Salzburg der Moderne from the castle, the modern art museum sitting pretty on the edge of the Mönschberg. The narrow, cobbled streets of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Town are home to many treasures, including Mozart’s birthplace in the gorgeous, stylish Getreidegasse; historic Salzburg Cathedral; Residenz Square (where Julie Andrews hurried through, belting out “I Have Confidence In Me’’); and the lovely Kapitel Square, with its modern art installation Sphaera – a statue of a man on a golden globe and a chess set for people to play. Not far away you can also do one of Salzburg’s most romantic rides, in a fiaker (horse-drawn carriage). A visit to St Peter’s Cemetery, cut into the sheer rock face of the Mönschberg, is fascinating – make sure you go up into the catacombs.
The rock of the Mönschberg also houses the Felsenreitschule (Summer Riding School), which hosts the choral festival of the famous Salzburg Festival; the real Von Trapps did win this festival, as portrayed in the movie.