Salzburg Cathedral

Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg's Cathedral is probably the city's most significant piece of church architecture and its ecclesiastical center. With its magnificent façade and mighty dome it represents the most impressive early Baroque edifice north of the Alps.

The cathedral origin is closely connected to the ecclesiastical principality's demeanour and growth. Destroyed by fire and rebuilt, enlarged and expanded, it bears witness to the power and independence of Salzburg's archbishops. The first cathedral was built on this site by Bishop Virgil who came to Salzburg in 767 and built a cathedral on the site of the former Roman Juvavum. On September 24, 774 the cathedral was consecrated to St. Virgil and St. Rupert. The city was set on fire in 1167 by the Counts of Plain, followers of the emperor Friedrick Barbarossa, also destroying the cathedral. The cathedral was rebuilt ten years later under the rule of Archbishop Conrad III of Wittelsbach and became more beautiful, more magnificent and more impressive than ever, making it the mightiest Romaneque cathedral north of the Alps, its size even surpassing the emperor's cathedral in Speyer.

400 years later another fire raged and destroyed large sections of the cathedral on December 11, 1598. This afforded Archbishop Wolf Dietrich the opportunity to tear down the damaged cathedral and to make plans for its reconstruction. The Salzburg residents were extremely outraged at the archbishop's ruthless actions. Not only were valuable sculptures and gravestones of the archbishops destroyed but the cathedral cemetery plowed under and the bones of the dead dumped on the debris. His quarrel with Bavaria over salt mining rights led to his arrest and imprisonment in the Hohensalzburg Fortress by his nephew and successor, Markus Sittikus von Hohenems, which put a bitter end to the various construction projects Wolf Dietrich had planned. After Wolf Dietrich's death the architect Santino Solari was commissioned by Archbishop Markus Sittikus to rebuild the Cathedral, which became the first early Baroque church north of the Alps. Markus Sittikus did not live to see the festive consecration of the Cathedral by Archbishop Paris Lodron during the chaos of the Thirty Years' War on September 25, 1628. Through Paris Lodron's clever diplomacy, the heavily fortified city escaped most of the hardships of the Thirty Years' War so that the consecration of the Cathedral became the largest and most pompous festival that Salzburg ever experienced. The centuries of sovereign rule by the Salzburg prince bishops was ended by the Napoleonic Wars. With the dethroning of the last prince bishop, Hieronymus von Colloredo, the first Habsburg, Ferdinand III, Grand Duke of Tuscany, brought Salzburg under his rule.

In 1944 the dome and part of the chancel were destroyed during a bomb attack. The necessary renovations were carried out and the Cathedral consecrated in its former magnificence in 1959. The three years found in the gates to the Cathedral are in memory of the three consecrations: '774', '1628' and '1959'. Four statues are located in front of the main façade: the apostles Peter and Paul with keys and sword as well as the two patron saints Rupert and Virgil with a salt box and a model of the church. The two escutcheons on the gable ornament refer to the two church builders, Markus Sittikus and Paris Lodron.

Among the precious objects to be found in Salzburg's Cathedral are the baptismal font in which Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was baptised, the majestic main organ, surrounded by angels playing instruments and crowned by Rupert and Virgil, as well as the magnificent Cathedral portals made by Scheider-Manzell, Mataré and Manzú. In his capacity as the court organist and concert master, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed numerous undying works of sacred music for Salzburg.

Cathedral Square is the Cathedral's courtyard. Archbishop Guidobald Thun had Giovanni Antonio Dario build the Cathedral arches in 1660. A beautiful Immaculate Column sculpted by Wolfgang and Johann Baptist Hagenauer for Archbishop Sigismund Graf Schrattenbach is located in the center of the square.

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Address

Domplatz 1, Salzburg, Austria
See all sites in Salzburg

Details

Founded: 774 AD
Category: Religious sites in Austria

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Lalit Pandit (2 months ago)
Really marvellous structure to see..its a baroque architecture and a treat to watch this medieval building..
Craig Priddle (4 months ago)
Beautiful. Looking very austere on the outside but incredibly powerful (what a symbol for the church when it was built), this is definitely worth a visit. No charge only a small cup for donations (which I would condone to maintain the building). Don't miss the recently (relatively) excavated crypt. Some magnificent stained glass and the remains of the earlier churches on the site. Superb.
Jacqueline Widick (4 months ago)
The main Catholic Church in Salzburg. It is beautiful and well maintained. It is a working church as well with varying services etc. It is also great for those who just want to go in and say their own prayers without a service. Building started in the 8th Century so has a long history. Well worth going and paying a donation upon leaving.
Ivan Radnev (5 months ago)
The Salzburg Cathedral is one of the most impressive church temples I have ever seen. It is located in the ideal center of the city and is huge. In front of it there is a rooftop square. Absolutely mandatory for a visit.
Michael Tilley (7 months ago)
Part of the cathedral is free. Probably worth paying to see whole of cathedral. Some lovely carvings there. Paid to go up North tower but views from top are restricted. Would not recommend.
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Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.