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 Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg. The church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.
Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.
The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics — according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day — including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel — but the church's chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church's construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million roubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.
In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat and from starvation and illness. The church suffered significant damage. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Saviour on Potatoes.
In July 1970, management of the Church passed to Saint Isaac's Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the Cathedral were funneled back into restoring the Church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been reconsecrated and does not function as a full-time place of worship; it is a Museum of Mosaics. Even before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, the only services were panikhidas (memorial services). The Church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.