Living my Sound of Music fantasy in the steps of Salzburg!

It’s true — in Salzburg, it seems like everywhere the hills are alive with the Sound of Music (la la la la). Salzburg is the birthplace of Mozart and the home of the Von Trapp family, who inspired the iconic 1965 Julie Andrews film. Now it’s not like Julie Andrews herself is going to run and greet you (although who knows, you may just get lucky!) but be sure to check out a few (or all!) of the must see locations. You’ll definitely hit all the right notes!!

The Mirabell Palace and Gardens – 

Once the love nest of Prince Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau, his true love and common law spouse Salome Alt and their fifteen children (archbishops were forbidden to marry), the Archbishop built the massive estate to keep their relationship hidden and secret.  In 1721, star architect Lukas von Hildebrandt (known for Vienna’s Hofburg Palace among others) was hired to significantly remodel it in his trademark lavish style.  An 1818 fire burned down much of his work, but the grand staircase and Marble Hall remain intact and accessible to the public even though the Palace is now used as municipal offices for the government.  While not used in the movie, the Marble Hall nevertheless boasts a storied history: a young Mozart and his sister Nannerl once performed here.

Several spots throughout the stunning Mirabell Gardens – open to the public by Emperor Franz Josef in 1854 – were used in the filming of “Do-Re-Mi:”

Gladiator Statues – Maria and the children emulate these statues as they sing.  Based on ancient Italian Borghese sculptures, with their arms hoisted triumphantly in the air.

Find these as you enter the garden.

Pegasus Statue Fountain – Maria and the children dance around the lip of this fountain as they belt out the song.

You’ll find it at the northwest corner of the Mirabell Palace grounds, inside the smaller garden – known as the Small Parterre

Terrace Steps  – At the end of the song, where Maria famously belts out the big final octave, she and the children jump up and down these steps as if they are a musical scale.

North of the Pegasus Statue Fountain, these steps lead to the Rose Garden.  

Gnome Park – Maria and the children pat the head of a gnome wearing eyeglasses.  While this is the only gnome featured in the film, there are nine others to enjoy.  Originally carved in 1715, each gnome was a caricatured version of a real person who lived in the court of Prince Archbishop Franz Anton Harrach.  Gnomes, part of European folklore, are thought to guard treasures and are often found in gardens throughout Austria.

Follow the other steps west of the Pegasus Fountain across a small bridge to find the Gnomes.

The Hedge Maze – Maria and the children run through this ivy-laced vine tunnel.  Absolutely gorgeous, this scenic spot could be used for romantic photo ops as well as Sound of Music reenactments.  As a bonus, during certain times of the year, you’ll find the Hedge Theater open with concerts in the park.

The Hedge Maze is right next to the Gnome Park.

The Hohensalzburg Castle – The characters may not go there, but there’s many views of this fortress in the film and during “Do Re Mi.”  Looming atop Festungsberg Hill, it is the largest, completely preserved castle in Central Europe.You can see it from a distance while you’re in the park.

Winkler Terrace –

Also part of the “Do-Re-Mi” song, prior to the Mirabell Gardens sequence.  High up on the Mönchsberg Cliffs, this terrace gives a stunning view of Salzburg and is the perfect place to hear the church bells tolling (yes, just like in Sound of Music).

Residenz Square and Fountain –

Maria sings a few beats of ‘I Have Confidence’ here and splashes a little water at one of the horses in the fountain.

Sculpted by Italian artist Tommaso di Garone, and featuring horses, giants, dolphins and even the Sea King Triton, this work-of-art is a sight to behold.  Plus, it’s fun giving the horse another splash, a la Julie Andrews.

Note: If you’re here in the winter, during the Christmas Markets, the fountain will likely be closed off (to protect the fountain from cracking). 

Horse Well (Pferdeschwemme)

Maria and the children sing a reprise of “My Favorite Things” as they walk past.  In an era where running water was nonexistent, this originally served as a type of horse bath in medieval times.  There’s a beautiful fountain with large horse murals on the wall behind it.

While visiting these iconic sites are practically a rite of passage for every major fan, be sure to stop to enjoy all the beauty of this city that the real-life von Trapp’s so dearly loved.  Whether it be finding a puppet show a la “The Lonely Goatherd,” dancing the Austrian folkdance ‘the Ländler,’ or enjoying crisp apple strudels and schnitzel with noodles.  

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