Dom zu Salzburg - Salzburg Cathedral
Of its numerous churches, the cathedral is Salzburg’s most important sacred building. With its mighty dome and two towers, it leaves its own distinctive, and absolutely impressive stamp on the city skyline. When we gaze upon the cathedral with open eyes, we discover many surprising and exciting details.
The cathedral is very much the centerpiece of Salzburg. Here, there is much to discover: the baptismal font, the crypt, the art installation “Vanitas”, as well as the chest containing relics of Saints Rupert and Virgil. In addition, many secrets are associated with the seven bells as well as the three entrance doors. If you take a close look, you will even find 370-year-old graffiti scratched into the marble entranceway.
Magnificent Cathedral Architecture
Salzburg Cathedral is an imposing tribute to the Early Baroque. Visitors are greeted by the resplendent façade made of Untersberg Marble. Looking down from it are four monumental statues: Apostles Peter and Paul holding a key and a sword, as well as Salzburg’s two patron saints, Rupert and Virgil, clasping a salt vessel and a model of the church. The two escutcheons at the top of the gable commemorate the two builders of the cathedral, Markus Sittikus and Paris Lodron. The Cathedral Square, with a statue to the Virgin Mary, provides the atrium – serving as the imposing annual backdrop for performances of Jedermann during the Salzburg Festival as well as for the beloved Christmas Market.
The Treasures of Salzburg Cathedral
The many treasures of this cathedral include a bronze baptismal font (1311) with lions at its base (1200), in which Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Joseph Mohr, the man who wrote the words for “Silent Night!”, were both christened. Other highlights include the imposing main organ, the cathedral gates by Schneider-Manzell, Mataré and Manzú, as well as seven bells. The three gates stand for Faith, Love and Hope, with the middle gate (for Love) somewhat larger. The seven bells also have names, ranging from Salvator (the biggest) to Barbara (the smallest). In the Cathedral Museum, you can gaze on other art treasures plucked from 1300 years of church history.
Salzburg Cathedral and its Rulers
The history of Salzburg Cathedral is closely intertwined with that of its rulers, the prince-archbishops. The cathedral was destroyed by a number of fires, then rebuilt and expanded. The years displayed on the wrought-iron gates – 774, 1628 and 1959 – recall the three occasions the cathedral was consecrated.
Its Medieval Predecessors
The very first cathedral was built in 767 under bishop Virgil, subsequently consecrated to Saints Peter and Rupert in the year 774. After a fire in 1167, archbishop Konrad III had the cathedral rebuilt, now more magnificent than ever, with the work completed in just ten years: now the mightiest Romanesque minster north of the Alps. The remains of these two former churches can still be viewed in the cathedral crypt.
The Newer Early Baroque Cathedral
Yet another fire destroyed major sections of the cathedral in 1598. Archbishop Wolf Dietrich was rather unfocused in tackling the rebuilding efforts. Only after his imprisonment and death was his successor Markus Sittikus able to complete the project. He commissioned Santino Solari to build the first example of Early Baroque sacred architecture north of the Alps. The new cathedral was finally consecrated by Archbishop Paris Lodron in 1628. In 1944, an aircraft bomb damaged the dome as well as parts of the sanctuary. In 1959, Salzburg Cathedral was finally re-consecrated, now as magnificent as ever.
The cathedral seats approximately 900 worshippers.
Tours in the Cathedral
During Christmastime and Festival Season in summer, there are free of charge tours of the Cathedral at set times. Exclusive tours on request.