The sound of Salzburg

April 13th, 2010 in European travel by Sarah Lee 0
The house featured in The Sound of Music, Salzburg

Strolling Salzburg’s broad boulevards it was easy to see why it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Every narrow street and passageway affords a glimpse into an age long since past.

Dominating this mountainside-huddle of a city is Festund Hohensalzburg castle, built in 1077. It’s the kind of building that dwarfs you with its feet-wide walls and envelopes visitors in a history-rich embrace, as well as providing outstanding views of the city on one side and the Austrian Alps on the other.

Salzburg is famous for a number of things – its castle being just one. The area is perhaps most famous as the setting for The Sound of Music, as it’s within its surrounding peaks and valleys that Julie Andrews sang about the hills being alive.

Even though I was not a dedicated fan of the film I had to give the Sound of Music tour a try. Beloved the world over the film, according to our guide Jurgen, wasn’t very popular in Austria: “We don’t know the film that well and just don’t see why there is so much fuss,” he said.

Some might agree, but The Sound of Music tour is the most popular in Salzburg. So I hopped on the bus with 50 other tour-goers, some of them almost yodelling with excitement.

Jurgen proved a mine of information about where various scenes were shot, offered enough set secrets to leave the real fans salivating, and took us to places like the lake to the house in Leopoldskron – on the edge of Salzburg – where Maria and the children fell into the water and the Collegiate Church at Mondsee, the setting for Maria and Captain Von Trapp’s wedding.

As we continued our journey through the Alps accompanied by the film’s soundtrack we watched the picture-perfect Austrian countryside float by. On our return to Salzburg Jurgen directed us to finish off the tour in the Mirabell Gardens, setting for one of the most famous songs in the film – Do-Re-Mi – the gardens are perfectly landscaped loveliness and I actually found myself wandering among the gnomes and standing on the famous steps quietly performing the song to myself.

The next day, going for slightly more ‘high-brow’ culture, I discovered Salzburg’s other contribution to music.  The city was the birthplace of Mozart and at Hagenauer Haus, his former home which is now a museum they displayed the tiny instruments – a violin, clavichord and fortepiano – on which this child prodigy performed his beautiful compositions.

Feeling peckish I decided it was time to discover the most traditional of Salzburg’s foodie delights. Surrounded by old-world opulence at the 19th century Sacher Hotel I sampled their renowned cake, the world famous Sacher torte.

The recipe to this delicious chocolate cake is a much-guarded secret and it’s easy to see why – you can have chocolate cake anywhere, but you can only really have Sacher torte at the Sacher Hotel.

It turned out to be the perfect end to a weekend in Salzburg – a grand city of great boulevards, surrounded by Alpine splendour.

Salzburg's Mirabell Gardens, doesn't it make you want to sing Do-Re-Mi?

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