Kollegienkirche - Collegiate Church
Collegiate Church (University Church) is one of the most important baroque churches in Austria. Built by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, it looks back on an exciting history and has gained a reputation in the City of Mozart as a venue for art and music.
The exceptionally steep dimensions of the church interior are very impressive. By foregoing painting and very sparing use of stucco and sculptures, the space achieves its own distinctive effect. This simplicity is an ideal backdrop for art exhibitions and concerts. And if you look closely, you might well discover a scorch mark on the marble flooring. This comes from the time when Salzburg was occupied by Napoleonic troops and the church was used as a warehouse for hay.
The Collegiate Church was built under Archbishop Johann Ernst Graf Thun as a new house of worship for the Benedictine university, which had been established in 1620. In order to oversee the project, the archbishop selected probably the most important baroque architect of that time, Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach. In building University Church, Fischer von Erlach created his masterpiece. The consecration ceremonies began on 20 November 1707 and lasted eight days. The artist himself was sadly no longer able to see “the crown of his creations”, since he had gone blind in the meantime. The chapels within the church’s interior are dedicated to the patron saints of the four academic faculties: Thomas Aquinus (theology), Ivo (law), Luke (medicine) and Catharine (philosophy).
Over the years, University Church was to experience a checkered history. When the troops of Napoleon’s army occupied the city in 1800, the church was used as a hay depot. In 1810 – when Salzburg came under Bavarian rule – the university was closed and the church’s original purpose was lost. During the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, it served both as a grammar school and as a church for the military. In 1922, the first performance of Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s “Grosses Welttheater” took place here. With the official reopening of Salzburg University in 1964, the church was restored to its original purpose. Today, it also serves as a venue for art installations as well as concerts.