To many people (above a certain age…) the image of Salzburg can be that of “The sound of music”. Incidentally, Germans and Austrians seem not to have liked the film due to the many inconsistencies it displays, both in geography and in terms of relation with the real story of the Trap family; it seems their canonical story was the one of a previous German movie. It is also a place marked (just ask tourists) by Mozart and the music festival.
In physical terms, Salzburg is a city in the valley of the Salzach, marked by the presence of two large hills: Kapuzinberg to the east, rising some 230 m over the river, and Mönschberg to the west, with lesser heights but a clear plateau. The German border is just across the airport, and according to the elevation map, here it seems the Austrians got the mountains and the Germans the plains. Quite fast you get over 1.000 m, mainly to the south, with impressive views of the summits.
The historical core of Salzburg is inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1996. The core area encompasses 236 hectares, in which the two hills are almost half the surface, and the buffer zone measures 467 hectares. The site declaration recognizes the role of the city as a meeting point for northern and southern Europe; the city is considered a relevant example of an European ecclesiastical city-state, preserving well its townscape and architecture, and a relevant arts city, especially when it comes to music, with Mozart as an example.
The 1997 Flächenwidmungsplan (Municipal Plan) clearly protects the two main hills, surrounded by urban land (red). The city, which was initiated between both hills, has today filled most of the level areas. The geometric proportion of hills, river and urban tissue, despite the built density, deliver a balanced result in the urban core.
Salzburg could have chosen to maintain its landscape only in the space between hills (most of the tourists never get out of that area), but overall there seems not to exist any major nuisance in the rest of the city. And the Alps are always there on the background, a much more important feature than the debate on whether the film is really authentic…