Where Was Sound Of Music Filmed?

The Sound of Music is one of Julie Andrews’ most famous movies, and most certainly made her a household name.

Especially among those who love musicals! The Sound of Music was based on the musical of the same name by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, which was in turn inspired by the real-life Maria’s memoir. 

Not only does it feature the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical numbers, but there are also several different beautiful locations to inspire wanderlust in even the most reluctant traveler. This of course prompts the question - where was The Sound of Music filmed?

Most of the movie was filmed in and around Salzburg, Austria, as well as in the Hollywood studios. We’ll take a look at some of the iconic locations that you can even go and visit for yourself, as well as other places of interest to The Sound of Music.

The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music

The opening scene where Maria twirls on the mountaintop singing the iconic Sound of Music number was actually filmed about 30 minutes away from Salzburg, in Germany, on Mehlweg. 

It actually took around a week to film, as the crew waited to get the right amount of sunshine for the shot. They had to battle against the weather as the sun only came out for around 20 minutes on the final day of shooting.

The birch trees and babbling brook that can be seen in the opening scenes are actually fake. They were put in place for the sake of the movie and were removed once filming had finished.

It may be tricky to get a glimpse of the hilltop itself if you fancied treading in Julie Andrews’ footsteps as it’s now privately owned land.

Nonnberg Abbey

Some of the scenes and iconic songs were actually filmed on location at Nonnberg Abbey - the actual abbey where the real-life Maria became a novice nun.

The outside of the building and the courtyard featured in the film, such as when the nuns sing Maria and the von Trapp children come to visit Maria after she returns to the abbey.

Interestingly, the exterior of Nonnberg abbey doesn’t actually overlook the picturesque city of Salzburg as was depicted in one scene when Maria exits the building. This was instead filmed on the opposite side of Salzburg on Humboldt Terrace, in front of the Museum of Modern Art.

Visitors to the Nonnberg abbey can hear the nuns singing early in the morning.

Collegiate Church in Mondsee

While the outside of the abbey did indeed feature in the film, the crew weren’t given permission to film inside it. So the wedding scene was actually filmed in the Collegiate church in Mondsee.

It was one of the first scenes that was filmed while in Austria and was filmed in a single day. This was one of the only major indoor scenes that was actually filmed on location in Austria rather than in the Hollywood studio.

Residence Square and Fountain

The Residence Square with its iconic fountain feature in one of Maria’s first songs, I Have Confidence in Me. The square is located in the center of the Old Town Salzburg and sports one of the largest Baroque fountains outside of Italy.

Later in the movie, Nazis can be seen marching through the same square.

Frohnburg Palace

The Villa von Trapp that we see in the movie was actually two different locations put together to create the home of the von Trapps. Frohnburg Palace was used to create the front of the home that we see towards the start of the film when Maria arrives as a governess, singing I Have Confidence.

It is also used in some of the later scenes when Georg returns home and tears down the Nazi flag, as well as when the von Trapp family are trying to sneak away to avoid performing at the festival.

The 17th century building is currently the Mozarteum Music Academy, named after Salzburg’s other famous musician: Mozart.

Leopoldskron Palace

The Leopoldskron Palace features some of the more iconic scenes from the movie. This is where we see the characters sipping on pink lemonade; where Georg von Trapp first hears his children singing; where the children and Maria can be seen stumbling from the water of the lake.

The picturesque building and surrounding grounds lent itself well to the atmospheric movie.

The beautiful Venetian ballroom that we see in the movie was actually a replica that was built in the Hollywood studios in Los Angeles.

Leopoldskron Palace is currently a hotel that you can visit for yourself. The real Villa von Trapp where the actual von Trapp family lived is also a hotel which you can visit.

The Gazebo 

While Hellbrunn Palace wasn’t one of the locations used in the film, it is the current location of the famous gazebo.

The gazebo used to be on the grounds of Leopoldskron Palace back when it was a private residence, but after so many people attempted to trespass just to see the building, it was moved to a more accessible location.

Visitors can’t get inside the gazebo, but they can take as many photos as they want to outside it. A larger replica was built in the Hollywood studios so that the crew could film the interior shots that we see in Sixteen Going on Seventeen and Something Good.

Horse Pond

The horse pond features briefly during the song My Favorite Things, where the children and Maria can be seen splashing around in the water. 

The horse pond itself can be found below Mönchsberg Hill and was built in 1695 by the Austrian architect Fischer von Erlach.

It features a mural backdrop as well as a horse statue and would have been used in the middle ages for travelers to wash their horses. It is located next to the Festival Complex of the Rock Riding School.

A few other scenic shots were filmed here but ended up being cut from the movie.

Picnic Meadow in Werfen

The iconic picnic meadow which features at the start of Do Re Mi is located near Werfen. It’s possible to complete the hike to the Gschwandtanger meadow in half an hour, where you can enjoy a picnic overlooking stunning views - including the Hohenwerfen Fortress.

The Fortress is actually the twin to the Old Town Salzburg’s Hohensalzburg Castle. 

Mirabell Palace and Gardens

The Mirabell Palace and gardens were partially used for filming the Do Re Mi number, with Maria and the children skipping around the pegasus fountain, as well as the steps to the north side of the property. This is one location that you can still visit for free, too!

Interestingly, the palace was used by Mozart when he gave private concerts as a child.

Rock Riding School

The Rock Riding School was the second of two interior scenes that were filmed on location in Austria. The impressive theatre is actually built into the Mönchsberg mountain and features in one of the key final scenes in the movie where the von Trapps perform in the music festival. Both Edelweiss and So Long, Farewell feature in this beautiful location.

Interestingly, the lyrics of Edelweiss were the last words written by Oscar Hammerstein II when he was adapting Maria’s memoir for the original musical. He shortly died from cancer after writing them. The words to Edelweiss were taught to hundreds of local extras on set so that they could join in with singing the song while filming.

The theatre itself has a complex and fascinating history. The cliffside was used to excavate the rock used to build many churches around Salzburg. It was then intended to be transformed into a cathedral, but instead got repurposed as a riding school where tournaments were held in 1693.

The riding school became important to Salzburg just like the famous Spanish riding school is important to Vienna.

During the annual Salzburg music festival in 1925, the Rock Riding School was one of three spaces in the complex that were transformed into theatres for the performances. The real von Trapps won the Salzburg music festival in 1936.

Saint Peter’s Cemetery and Catacombs

One of the final scenes is where the von Trapps hide among the tombstones and they have a confrontation with Rolf. While this was another scene that was actually filmed on set in Hollywood, it was actually inspired by the real Saint Peter’s Cemetery and Catacombs. 

The cemetery itself is relatively small and is ringed by large crypts reserved for local wealthy families. Some of the cemetery’s residents include Maria Anna, Mozart’s sister, as well as Franz Wasner, who was the real-life Max Detweiler.

It is curious to note that you can’t buy a plot at the cemetery. Families are expected to rent the land instead and maintain it regularly in order to keep their relatives in residence.

Mount Untersberg

The stunning Mount Untersberg features at the start of the movie, as well as for the final musical number Climb Every Mountain when the von Trapps are making their escape.

It can easily be accessed via bus or cable car, or the more adventurous traveler can access it after a 2 hour hike.