Many tourists, especially Americans, who crowd into Salzburg, come because of the 50 year-old Sound of Music, a film that presented Austria to the world.
Tuesday was our day to focus on the film locations, although yesterday we went to Mirabell Gardens, the scene of the famous Do Re Mi song. Focus on the movie locations is one great way to see a lot of the city and its surroundings.
We rented an Avis car in advance of our planned drive through some Bavarian villages on Wednesday. Besides driving to the church in Mondsee, where the movie wedding was filmed, we visited other locations that are out of the way for most tour groups.
The quietest and most contemplative spot was Nonnberg Abbey, half way up the hill to the castle that overlooks Salzburg. They get fewer visitors than most film locations; they even have donation boxes to turn on chapel and crypt lights. For those who have seen the movie, the children go to the gates of the convent to try to convince Maria to come back to their house. The black wrought iron gates seem unchanged. And, there are other recognizable spots that were filmed nearby.
In real life, the Nonnberg church, within the abbey, was the site of the actual wedding of Capt. von Trapp and Maria.
We also visited numerous other filming locations, including the film version of the von Trapp house as well as the gazebo used in one notable scene. Tour guides direct visitors with lots of misinformation about shooting locations so that they can shuttle tourists to places easy to access via bus.
We were told that the actual house used in the film was Schloss (Castle) Frohnburg. We took a long, but beautiful hike in a rural area, and found Fronburg, which needs some renovation and is currently used by students at the University of Mozart as a dormitory. Bus loads of tourists instead are taken to two castles with easier bus access. One is near the spot where the city moved the famed gazebo some years ago; and the other inspired some of the Hollywood constructed sets and is near the lakefront location that was used in the film.
We were told that many tourists, for example, arrive in the city daily on Danube river cruises from Linz, an hour and a half each way to Salzburg, and the city’s tourist officials have had to create a little of their own fiction to keep everyone happy.
It’s all big, big business for Salzburg. But ironically, we are told, few local people ever heard of the movie until recent years as its international popularity has grown.