Day 3: Sound of Music movie locations
After breakfast at the hotel, we embark on our six hour Sound of Music tour, visiting the movie locations, including the Sixteen-going-on-Seventeen and Something Good Gazebo (photo op!!), and the Mondsee and the cathedral in which the wedding scene was filmed. Our guide will treat us to insider gossip and tales of the film’s making in 1964. Relive your favorite scenes from the beloved musical on this tour from Salzburg, as we pass the iconic film locations including Nonnberg Abbey when the postulant Maria Kutschera began her training as a Benedictine nun, Schloss Leopoldskron – the von Trapp villa in the film – and the Mirabell Gardens where the film Maria and the children sang Do Re Mi.
The gazebo for the Sixteen Going on Seventeen scene of the film has been moved numerous times but has been at Hellbrunn since 1997. It’s now locked after too many visitors injured themselves trying to leap from seat to seat as Liesl does in the film.
We complete our exciting day with a visit to the Villa Trapp, the home of the von Trapp family and a real gem in our visit to the Sound of Music locations. The villa was the center of the family’s life between 1923 and their flight from fascism in 1938. Our visit includes a guided tour of the villa and grounds, as well as a screening with the last interview Maria Franziska von Trapp gave in public.
“After they left, Heinrich Himmler moved in here,” Villa Trapp building manager Christopher Unterkofler explained. “He even built an underground bunker.”
After all, we’re at Villa Trapp in Salzburg, the former home of one of Austria’s most famous families whose story was turned into one of the biggest Hollywood musicals of all time. This is normally a place that appeals to music lovers, not World War II buffs.
After the war, a religious group, the Catholic Missionaries of the Precious Blood, bought the property from the von Trapps, who had their ownership restored after the Nazis were defeated.
While he lived there, Himmler used the home as his summer residence, converting one of the children’s rooms to his office and installing a barracks for SS officers on the grounds.
Although the Nazi leader died in Germany, the priests that moved in after the war claimed that they could hear the creaking of the boots of Himmler’s ghost on the floorboards at night. They performed three exorcisms to get rid of his presence, but none was successful. In the end, the “ghost” was finally driven away after a carpenter fixed the boards.
The priests rented out the property in the 1990s and it became a hotel in 2008.
Villa Trapp, home to the real von Trapp family, is not as grand or luxurious as the property used for the film, the Hotel Schloss Leopoldskron – an enormous 300-year-old palace that became the home of theatre director Max Reinhardt (a founder of the world-famous Salzburg Festival).
While The Sound of Music seems to be present in every corner of the city, the locals of Salzburg have little interest in the film except as a phenomenal tourist attraction. Over 300,000 Sound of Music fans descend upon Salzburg each year! In fact, few have seen the film. Although it has been a staple of television in the English-speaking world, it had little exposure in the country where it was set.
Having had a taste of the real story behind the film, it’s easier to understand why Austrians might not be that interested in the fictionalized version of the story. When put in the context of the true wartime history of the family and the aftermath, Himmler’s ghost included, it’s hard for Hollywood to compete with reality.