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Sebastianskirche with the cemetery in the back | © Tourismus Salzburg/ G.Breitegger

Sebastianskirche & Friedhof - St. Sebastian's Church & Cemetery

Late Baroque St. Sebastian’s Church, with its striking onion-dome tower, is readily distinguishabble as you gaze out on the right side of the historic district. One special highlight is St. Sebastian’s Cemetery – a veritable treasure in the very heart of Salzburg City.

History and Special Features

The history of St. Sebastian’s Church goes back to Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach. He had the church built between 1505 and 1512. In the 18th century, the church – which had since become derelict – was demolished and replaced by a hall church reflecting the style of the Late Baroque. Special features of St. Sebastian’s Church include the magnificent Rococo portal and an impressive gate separating the entrance porch from the main nave. The high altar is adorned by a wonderful Madonna with Child from the year 1611.

Modern Reconstruction

The devastating fire in 1818 – which also destroyed broad swaths of the right historical district – didn’t spare St. Sebastian’s Church either. The ceiling fresco and the painting at the high altar depicting St. Sebastian both fell victim to the flames. Restoration of the church began in the early 19th century: Charred baroque paintings were replaced by those of contemporary artists, while the confessionals also acquired a more modern form.

St. Sebastian’s Cemetery and Its Treasures

Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau had the cemetery designed in the style of an Italian campo santo between 1595 and 1600. Members of Salzburg’s most prominent families as well as famous personalities found their final resting place amid the cemetery’s magnificent arcades. These include Mozart’s father, Leopold, Wolfgang’s wife, Constanze, as well as her second husband, Georg Nikolaus. Since 1564, the passageway leading to St. Sebastian’s Cemetery has also been home to the tomb of famous physician Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, better known as "Paracelsus".

The most magnificent of all the sepulchers stands proudly in the middle of St. Sebastian’s Cemetery, the Gabriel Chapel, mausoleum of Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich. It was built according to the plans of Elia Castello, and remains one of the architectural masterpieces associated with this famous ruler.


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