Meet Mondsee, a village just outside Salzburg Austria in the Vöcklabruck District. As quaint as it is, the main reason it is known among tourists, particularly music lovers and romantics among you, is because of the town houses St. Michael’s Church where Maria and Captain Von Trapp married in the original movie, The Sound of Music. Located along Kirchengasse in the town’s central square, there are also beautiful trees throughout and surrounding the town. (below is taken within a five minute walk of the church).
Mondsee is located on the shore of the Lake Mondsee and is home to the historic medieval Mondsee Abbey. The cloister church was used for the site of the wedding — below.
The Abbey itself dates back to 748, and no I didn’t miss the number 1. It was founded by Odilo, Duke of Bavaria. The abbey tradition was that the first monks came from Monte Cassino in Italy. In 788, after the fall of Duke Tassilo III, Mondsee became an Imperial abbey and over the centuries acquired extensive property. Around 800, the Codex Millenarius, an illustrated Latin book of the Gospels was written at the abbey. In 831, King Louis the Pious gave the monastery to Regensburg Cathedral. What a fascinating history…
It was great to have the opportunity to circle around the church and take in her beauty, especially as it was one of the few clear blue skied days we had during our week in Salzburgerland. Ahhh yes, let her glory shine!
Inside the church, there was more to take in. The ornamental fine attention to detail throughout the church was astonishingly beautiful. This gothic former monastery is just as striking today as ever, as its two towers stretch 52 meters into the sky. Bear in mind that it was constructed in the 15th century under the direction of abbot Benedikt Eck and is the second biggest church in Upper Austria. Saint Wolfgang spent a year in Mondsee in 976 as Bishop of Ratisbon and founded the pilgrim church at the Wolfgangsee Lake.
The Sound of Music filming is why more than 200.000 people visit the church every year and still remains one of the most photographed churches around the world — that’s how popular the film was and the impact it had outside Austria. Pope John Paul II upgraded the church to a basilica in 2005 and four years later in 2009, the church reopened after a huge restoration which became Austria’s monument of the year. Below, you’ll get an idea of the rich colors inside the church.
Right outside the church in the main square, you can enter a courtyard that is almost as majestic in feeling as the basilica itself.
Once you leave the square, you’re faced with colorful buildings along a main drag which mostly house cafes, shops, and restaurants.
There’s also a market where you can buy fresh vegetables, meats, cheeses and homemade breads — the Austrian bread is so so delicious!
One of the most charming parts about the town is not just the church, although it is definitely worth visiting, Sound of Music fan or not, is the surrounding greenery (there’s a park in the town), as well as the authentic buildings and houses, which take you back in time to old world Austria. Mondsee is incredibly charming and a must visit, and of course, if you sign up for a tour of the main Sound of Music sites, you will likely visit it as part of your tour. If you’re there solo, then rent a car and head out of town.
Below are shots of the park (and from inside the park) taken on a late afternoon October day.
The Sound of Music 50th Anniversary was the primary reason I went to Salzburg this fall, so be sure to read my extensive write-ups that relate to it: The Sound of Music Sites for Romantics & Nature Lovers and Salzburg Celebrates The Sound of Music 50 Years Later. Also refer to the post on Salzburgerland, for History, Culture and Breathtaking Countryside. I also wrote a Salzburg Food and Restaurant Guide for foodie lovers and about my experience at a traditional farm nearby in Faustenau.