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Mission Todd-AO: Salzburg, Austria
Location Hunting: A Visual Guide to "The Sound of Music"

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Thomas Hauerslev Date: 16.10.2012
Frohenburg Castle where Maria meets the von Trapp family while singing "I Have Confidence in Me". In the movie, the lakeside location of their house is a completely different Salzburg estate called Leopoldskron.

In mid February 2012 I went on a small trip to Salzburg, Austria, to find the locations for the Todd-AO film "The Sound of Music". It was a fun - but cold - day to walk from one location to another. A great way to see the beautiful sights of Salzburg.

I had been inspired to take up "location hunting" 20 years ago when I saw a video tape on this idea made in Salzburg and on the west coast of Ireland. I wanted to do that too and realised that isn't it marvellous that films can inspire our holidays? I later learned out that actually a lot of people do exactly that.
More in 70mm reading:

Mission Todd-AO: Salzburg, Austria - The Gallery

Mission Todd-AO: Salzburg, Austria - The Panoramas

in70mm.com Presents: You are in the Show with Todd-AO

On the trail of "Ryan's Daughter" & "Far and Away"

Internet link:

Visit Salzburg
The Sound of Music
Salzburg Bus

The Sound of Music live on stage

Schloss Leopoldskron
Schloss Frohnburg
Nonnberg Stift
Mirabell Gardens
Panorama Tours

Leopoldskron as seen from across the lake. During winter time, the lake is used for ice skating

Based in nearby Zell am See (also in Austria) for a week, it was easy to reach Salzburg by train. I departed 7:15 in the morning on a nice train direct to Salzburg. It was a cold and clear morning, and it was still dark when I left my hotel. The family was still asleep when I closed the door behind me. On the way the train passed the small village of Werfen, where "Where Eagles Dare" had been filmed a few years later.


Hohensalzburg - stift Nonnberg, where Maria leaves singing "I Have Confidence in Me". Later in the film, the von Trapp children ask to talk to Maria.

A few minutes before 9 in the morning, the train arrived in Salzburg, and I found bus number 25 and rode to the Flurweg stop, to walk the remaining distance to my first movie location, the Frohenburg Castle.

It's just outside central Salzburg, and you can easily walk the distance, but on this chilly February day, I decided to use the bus.


Skt. Peters Graveyard, the cemetery which served as inspiration for the production designers.

The landscape was all covered in fresh snow, it was a beautiful morning. I followed the narrow road, and stepped aside every time a car came in my direction. I recognized the area from a previous visit in 1996, and soon I was standing where the Todd-AO cameras once ran, photographing Julie Andrews in the afternoon sun, as she was looking through the black iron gates to her new home. Some morning joggers probably thought "...ahh, another movie worshipper". I didn't mind, said hello and took my pictures.


Originally I had planned to return to the bus stop, and take the number 25 back a little, change to number 22 at the Beethoven Strasse - or Gasse, as the Austrians say - and then proceed to König Ludwig Strasse. However, the bus had just left when I got to the bus stop, so I decided to walk to my next location, rather than waiting 20 minutes until the next bus.

Anyway, I had confidence in me, and decided to walk the 2,6 kilometers to Leopoldskron castle, which is right behind the Hohensalzburg fortress.


Some sort of red winter elf singing "I Have Confidence in Me" on top of Salzburg.

Leopoldskron castle is where the von Trapp children have their lemonade with Uncle Max and also falls into the water from a boat. I could see the castle and something that looked like the terrace from across the frozen lake. In fact I think the terrace used in the film was built specifically for the film, and later removed. Anyway, it was cold and I had to find somewhere to relieve myself before going to the next location, so I didn't stay there much longer.


The steps in Mirabell Garden made famous in the song "Do-Re-Mi".

The Stift Nonnberg is where Maria is becoming a nun in the movie. The Nonnberg is on top of a mountain, accessible by car and foot. It is a long way up along a picturesque narrow road and foot path. The view of Salzburg is staggering on this clear morning and I try to make some panoramas of the view. It is possible to get inside the church, nobody is there, except a deafening silence, and "church like" atmosphere of death and sadness which is not very cheerful.


Another entrance to Mirabell Garden

Happy with my new photographic acquisitions, I left the Nonnberg, and walked around the castle and followed the steep road down to the Skt. Peters Graveyard, which served as inspiration for the production designers in the film. In the scenes towards the end of the film, the Von Trapps hide from the Nazis in a cemetery, which looks like the Skt. Peters Graveyard. Next to Skt. Peters is the Mönchsberg Festspielhaus which is where the Von Trapp Family Singers performed in the film for their fellow Austrians. Unfortunately I could not get in to see it. It didn't matter, as I already had seen a lot, and ahead of me were still some interesting and recognizable places, like the old place of Cafe Winkler on Mönchsberg, the Mirabell Gardens and the Mozart Brügge.


This is a bit off-topic, but since I am the editor, I have extra privileges here. This is the former Todd-AO cinema of Salzburg. Originally equipped with the DP70 - the official Todd-AO projector. Now a cafe, and the machines are long gone.

The view of Salzburg from the Mönchsberg terasse was staggering, and I imagined Robert Wise and the Todd-AO cameras filming the intimate scenes with Julie Andrews and the children on this very spot nearly 50 years ago. Then down the lift, sending a smile towards the old "Stadt Kino" Todd-AO cinema across the street, which is now a respectable cafe. I wonder if "The Sound of Music" was ever shown there.

Further on foot across the Salzach river and into the Mirabell Gardens to find the steps and sandstone statues so prominently seen in the film. Outside the Mirabell Gardens is the ticket office of the Salzburg bus tour and they use a big plastic cow painted in "The Sound of Music" colors as an attention getter - Todd-AO is everywhere.


The Mozart brügge crossing the Salzach River. Can you hear it "Do-Re-Mi"?

I was getting tired, hungry and cold, and I still had a few things to do before returning home. On my way to the Mozartbrügge I looked for the hotel where the movie stars were living during filming, but it appeared the be closed for renovation. I recalled from a previous visit they had autographed stills on display in the foyer, however, I didn't see them on this Todd-AO mission. Central Salzburg is not a big city, so everything "Music" is with in walking distance of each other. My water bottle was partly frozen by now, but I kept on in the interest of the whole idea. While humming quietly "I have Confidence in Me" I walked along the Salzach River until I found the Mozart brügge. A beautiful small iron pedestrians foot bridge.

I finished my Todd-AO mission by walking across the bridge and took the final pictures on Residentzplatz, the big square seen early in the film. The horse pond in the middle of the square was closed for the winter. I had completed what I came to see and went back to the central station to find my train.


Residentzplatz. The Horse Pond was covered for the winter

To this day "The Sound of Music" is still a major attraction for the city, and you can find all sorts of movie memorabilia all over town in the form of DVDs, books, guided tours, postcards, refrigerator magnets and t-shirts. The film itself is probably the best souvenir, as it shows the beautiful city in all it's glory on hot summer days.

One thing I don't understand, however, is why the film isn't shown in a proper cinema in Salzburg. It seems to me it would be the "perfect show in Todd-AO" to show it, say, once a day in a Salzburg cinema. Especially now, when it is available in 4K resolution closely matching the quality of the original shows in 70mm. It's so easy and obvious to do. The tourists would love it, and they can sell Mozartkugelen by the dozens.

I was there in February 2012, and it was so cold that even the water in my bottle froze to slush-ice during the day. My location hunting had come to an end. Around 14:00 in the afternoon I boarded a train for Zell am See and two hours later I was back, just in time to join my family and enjoy a glass of hot glühwein. A very memorable day in "The Sound of Music" land had come an end.

Mission Todd-AO: Salzburg, Austria - The Gallery

Mission Todd-AO: Salzburg, Austria - The Panoramas

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Updated 30-06-22