The Franciscan Church (Franziskanerkirche) is one of the oldest churches in Salzburg. The first church on this site was built in the eighth century during the time of Saint Virgil, who may have used it for baptisms. A document from 1139 mentions a parish church on this site. That church was destroyed by fire in 1167, together with five other churches, including the cathedral. Starting in 1208, the central nave of the church was built in the late-Romanesque style, making it among the oldest buildings in Salzburg. It was consecrated in 1221.
Between 1408 and 1450 Master Hans von Burghausen began work on the radiant Gothic choir to replace the Romanesque choir, which Stefan Krumenauer completed. A slender Gothic tower was added between 1468 and 1498. The church was dedicated to the Virgin Mary and served as the parish church until 1635. In 1670, the archbishop ordered the top of the church's tower removed because it was taller than the cathedral tower. The tower was later restored in 1866 in the neo-Gothic style by Joseph Wessiken. In the eighteenth century, the church interior was redesigned in the baroque style. The 'Rosary' of chapels behind the high altar date from the 16th century.
The church choir contains nine chapels decorated in baroque style by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach in the eighteenth century. The chapel behind the high altar has a winged marble altar that dates from 1561. The High Altar (1709) by Fischer von Erlach is made of red marble and gold. The central Madonna statue on the winged altar dates from the Late Gothic period (1495-1498) and was sculpted by Michael Pacher of Tyrol. The staircase of the pulpit contains a marble lion from the 12th century standing over a man with a painful grimace on his face, pushing his sword into the belly of the lion. The triumphal arch holds frescoes by Conrad Laib.References:
The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.
In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.
The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.
The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.