Last Updated on December 27, 2022

It was a crisp winter day with snowflakes beginning to swirl around as we walked into the picturesque town square of Mondsee in Upper Austria. My husband and I were with a local guide to visit this charming lake town and see one of the top sights from the beloved Academy Award winning film, “The Sound of Music” before heading to Salzburg, 30 minutes away. When looking for the Sound of Music location for filming, don’t forget this one.

Though this heartwarming and unforgettable classic is filled with love, laughter and music, we should remember that the harrowing tale of the von Trapp family’s escape from Nazi-occupied Austria is a true one, a story well told, and one to remember.

St Michael Basilica Mondsee

One of the most famous scenes in “The Sound of Music” took place in the Basilica of St. Michael in Mondsee. The former Benedictine monastery constructed in the 15th century achieved international stardom because of the wedding scene with Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer filmed inside the stunningly beautiful church. It’s the reason more than 200,000 people visit this site each year making it one of the most photographed churches in the world.

Most of the movie, however, was filmed in Salzburg, also known as the City of Mozart, and home to the famous Salzburg Festival. The Sound of Music location is an absolute must-see and it’s of no surprise most of the movie was filmed here given its history and spectacular settings.

Interior of Basilica St. Michael- site of the von Trapp wedding- photo by Noreen Kompanik
Interior of Basilica St. Michael- site of the von Trapp wedding- photo by Noreen Kompanik

Mirabell Gardens Austria

Even in winter, this baroque style garden is stunning. The meticulously landscaped grounds are filled with gorgeous flower designs, marble statues and fountains. The iconic song ‘Do, Re, Mi’ was partially filmed here, as was the scene of Maria and the von Trapp children dancing around the Pegasus Fountain and through the hedge maze tunnel with views of the Hohensalzburg Fortress in the distance.

There is no charge for visiting the Salzburg garden and it’s definitely worth a stop.

Nonnberg Abbey

As the oldest female convent north of the Alps, this Gothic abbey in Salzburg is where the real-life Maria was training to become a nun. Four scenes of the movie were filmed here: the nuns singing “Maria” in the courtyard, Maria leaving the abbey to become a governess to the von Trapp children, the children trying to visit her in the abbey and the Nazi’s attempting to find the escaping von Trapps.

Each morning, resident nuns here still sing their Gregorian chants in Latin.

Residence Square & Fountain

In the center of Old Town Salzburg, a 45-foot-tall Baroque fountain was the site of Maria’s song “I Have Confidence in Me” as she happily splashes water in the fountain. But it’s poignant to also realize the dark historical moments in the film as Nazi soldiers marched through this picturesque square later in the movie and hung their flag over the entrance to the old Residence Palace.

Frohnburg Palace

This is one of two locations for the von Trapp villa, but it’s the outside of the gate and building where Maria first set her eyes on the massive von Trapp mansion. This is also where, after returning from his Paris honeymoon with Maria, CAPT von Trapp ripped the Nazi flag from the mansion’s doorway. Later during the family’s attempt to escape the Nazis, they pushed their car silently through the Frohnburg Palace gate. It is located in Salzburg.

Hellbrunn Palace

Located just outside the Salzburg city center, Hellbrunn Palace is home to the Sound of Music location gazebo where the oldest von Trapp daughter Liesl experiences her first kiss and CAPT von Trapp and Maria finally admit their love for one another.

Palace of Leopoldskron

Lake Fronting Leopoldskron Palace- photo by Karen Bassing
Lake Fronting Leopoldskron Palace- photo by Karen Bassing

This is one of the most important filming locations as the idyllic palace and lake views provide the perfect backdrop for all the lake terrace scenes of the von Trapp family home. This is where Maria and the children fall off the boat and into the lake. And though the palace’s gold Venetian foyer and ballroom were not used for the interior house scenes, they were rebuilt in Hollywood in all their magnificent splendor. It is located in the southern district of Salzburg.

St. Peter’s Cemetery & Catacombs

This small, but unique cemetery is one of Salzburg’s oldest and among the most beautiful cemeteries in the world. The catacombs here were carved out of the rocks of Mönchsberg, providing a stunning view over the graveyard site.

The cemetery served as the inspiration for “The Sound of Music’s” nail-biting scene in which the von Trapp family hid from the pursuing Nazis. In reality, it is the final resting place for both Mozart’s sister Nannerl, and Max Detweiler, the real-life figure affectionately known to the von Tapp children as ‘Uncle Max,’ and depicted in the film.

If the towns of Mondsee and Salzburg weren’t beautiful enough on their own, it was an absolute joy visiting many of the filming destinations of one of our favorite movies of all time.

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