With the twin spires, copper dome, gorgeous facade, and three arcade arches, Salzburg Cathedral (also known as Salzburger Dom) is considered to be one of the most significant landmarks of the city that dominates landscape photographs from Salzburg. Situated adjacent to Domplatz and Residenzplatz in the heart of the Old Town, this magnificent piece of architecture is one of the earliest Baroque edifices in this area.
The cathedral is surrounded by Salzburg’s main squares, which makes it easily accessible from different parts of the city. It is the burial place of many famous archbishops and the spot where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart has been baptized.
Salzburg Cathedral is not only the first Austrian baroque cathedral but also one of the very few cultural buildings that have 5 organs. There are more than twenty cathedrals in the old town. However, Salzburger Dom is no doubt the most significant one.
It has been destroyed by several fires throughout its history and rebuilt a few times. This masterpiece of Baroque art now represents the most popular city attraction that grabs the attention of both tourists and locals. A huge number of travelers and vacationers visit Salzburg Cathedral each year.
So if you plan your trip to Salzburg, be sure to visit this seventeenth-century Baroque church. Let’s take a closer look at Salzburg Cathedral.
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Salzburg Cathedral History Through the Centuries
Virgil Dom: The Original Edifice
The first church, actually edifice, on this site was built in 774 (you’ll notice this number above an entrance when approaching the church). It has been founded on the remains of an old Roman settlement by Saint Vergilius, an early astronomer and churchman.
His statue with the salt barrel can be found in front of the cathedral alongside the statue of St. Rupert. As a matter of fact, the church has been consecrated to these two bishops. There are also statues of the apostles Peter and Paul.
It goes without saying that those statues have been made afterward. Originally, the Virgil Dom was 33 meters wide and 66 meters long. It has been expanded and enlarged multiple times over the centuries. Read on to learn more.
Fires & Renovations Between 845 and 1598
After each fire, the cathedral has been reconstructed and changed a bit. The first renovation of this magnificent building was carried out by Archbishop Arno in 845, about 3 years after a destructive fire and seventy years after the first completion of the edifice.
In the eleventh century, Archbishop Hartwig expanded Salzburg Cathedral, adding a crypt and choir. The west towers were added in the first half of the 12th century. One of the biggest fires that hit the church happened in 1167 when Swabian counts had set the city on fire and severely damaged the cathedral. Archbishop Conrad reconstructed the building 10 years later and made it look more impressive and more beautiful than ever before.
The Cathedral from the 17th Century to World War II
Another fire destroyed a big portion of the basilica approximately four centuries later. It has undergone many restorations and reconstructions since then, each of which failed for some reason. Finally, Wolf Dietrich has demolished the damaged basilica and laid the foundations for a new building. He brought the renowned Italian architects and artists to construct an all-new cathedral from scratch.
The Wolf Dietrich’s construction projects have been changed by Markus Sittikus, his successor and nephew. Based on the altered architectural plants, the new church has been rebuilt a few years later. It featured a lot of elements of Italian Baroque architecture.
In 1628 (the second number above one of the entrances to the Salzburg Cathedral), the cathedral was consecrated. The consecration of the church was one of the most pompous and largest festivals that the city has ever experienced. It was the first baroque cathedral in Austria north of the Alps.
Salzburg Cathedral During and After World War II
Since the 17th century, Salzburg Cathedral has left intact till World War II, when it experienced serious damage once again. Both the church chancel and central dome were collapsed during bomb attacks in 1944.
In 1959, the dome was reconstructed along with other renovations, and you can see this number above the 3rd entrance. After about 60 years, Salzburg Cathedral remains the same without any significant changes.
Salzburg Cathedral Appearance & Highlights
From precious objects and majestic organs to marvelous paintings and statues, Salzburg Cathedral has a wide range of highlights of the visit. In order to give you a feel for the style and appearance of the cathedral, we will take a look at its exterior and interior as well.
The Cathedral Exterior
The gate of the church shows the 3 divine virtues: Hope, Faith, and Love. Before entering the cathedral, you’ll see a variety of interesting figures while standing against the facade. As we have mentioned earlier, there are statues of Saint Rupert as well as Saint Virgil on the ground floor.
You can also find these two saints and bishops in many other cathedrals in Austria. Besides, there are huge statues of St. Paul (with the sword) and St. Peter (with the keys) near the main entrance. Furthermore, you will be able to see the 4 evangelists on the first floor. If you take a look at the next floor, you will notice Elijah and Moses. On the gable roof, there’s Jesus Christ enthroned far above all of them.
The open arcade arches connect Salzburg cathedral with the St Peter’s Abbey and Salzburger Residenz. They all make up an enclosed square. The church body is constructed from grey stone that features bright marble and beautiful ornamentation. Its facade comprises 3 horizontal sections and consists of two towers.
Salzburg Cathedral has 7 bells that are among the oldest and largest church bells in Austria. Each bell has its own name. That said, there are Salvator, Rupertus, Maria, Josef, Virgil, Leonhard, and Barbara bells.
Are you wondering what’s inside? Let’s step inside the cathedral and explore its interior, shall we?
The Cathedral Interior
The baptismal font will probably be the first thing that’s going to attract your attention when getting inside. This sanctum is a place where Mozart has been baptized. He used to play the organ called Hoforgel in that holy place. This large musical instrument is now set at the south side of Salzburg Cathedral.
Then you will be marveling at the 232 feet high dome when looking up at the ceiling. This awe-inspiring dome displays sixteen stunning frescos that depict different Old Testament scenes. You will also notice frescos on the nave of the Salzburg cathedral. All of these works were painted by Ignazio Solari and Donato Mascagni, the famous Italian artists of those times.
Turn around and look around carefully. You’ll see the Last Supper on the top right, while the fresco showing Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem is on the top left.
Additionally, you will come across the crypt, which is placed right from the main altar. The crypt contains the remains of the first churches. It’s likely that you will also encounter the tombs of the famous archbishops while moving around.
How to Reach and When to Visit Salzburg Cathedral?
Salzburg Cathedral is located in the vicinity of residence square. Also, it is situated close to some of the most popular areas of the city. For instance, it’s about 350m away from Mozarts Geburtshaus, as well as around 200m away from Mozart’s statue and Festungsbahn.
If you’re wondering how to reach the cathedral, you can easily do it on foot given that the city is walkable throughout the year. It would take you anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes from most hostels and hotels in Salzburg. If you’d rather take public transport, we recommend getting off at Schloss Mirabell and crossing the river.
As for the opening hours, the cathedral usually opens at 8 am. Keep in mind that this depends upon the month and day. For example, the cathedral is open for visitors from 8 am to 5 pm (from Monday to Saturday) during November, January, and February, whereas it is open from 8 am to 6 pm during October, December, March, and April (from Monday to Saturday). It should be noted that the Salzburg cathedral opens at 1 pm on holidays and Sundays.
What to See Nearby and Where to Stay Overnight?
We hope you enjoyed exploring Salzburg cathedral. It’s an integral part of the great cathedral-museum complex called DomQuartier. Now that you’re already here why would you not discover more sights?
Be sure to visit the Museum of St. Peter’s Abbey, the Cathedral Museum, and private staterooms of Prince Archbishops in the monumental Residence Palace. Take the time to visit the historic center as well as Getreidegasse, the main shopping street in Salzburg.
After the hectic day full of exhibitions and sightseeing, you should find a cozy accommodation to stay overnight in Salzburg. We recommend staying at the Keep. This ecologically minded residence is tailored to the needs of sustainable travelers. The hotel offers a unique experience by providing a warm environment that will make you feel at home. Whether you book a single or 4-bed family room, this lovely place will ensure full privacy and leisure too.
The Salzburg cathedral is a must-see for any visitor to Salzburg, Austria. Don’t miss out on other attractions and city landmarks, too. Get the most out of your holiday in Salzburg.