Salzburg Cathedral

There has been a church at this site since 774, built then by Saint Virgil. Since then, there have been many iterations and the cathedral has been destroyed by no less than 8 fires. What stands today was built after a fire in 1598 which destroyed the building completely. Prince Archbishop Wolf-Dietrich ordered that what was left be cleared away and a new church built in its place. Some suggest that the fire may not have been entirely accidental.

Fun Fact

St Virgil was actually an Irish priest – St Feargal of Virgil – who was particularly modern for his time. Other bishops and priests made unsuccessful complaints to the Pope about his heretical beliefs on astronomy and geography, including that he believed that the earth was round. He died in Salzburg in 784.

With all his other projects however, Wolf-Dietrich never really got to grips with the new cathedral and it was his successor, Markus Sittikus, who commissioned the bulk of the work to be completed by the Italian architect Santino Solari. It was only under Markus Sittikus’s successor, Prince Archbishop Paris-Lodron, that the building was finally completed and consecrated in 1628 – although the towers came about 40 years later. While the building was completely gutted, some remnants of the previous structures remain and can be seen in the Cathedral crypt (worth a quick visit).

While the Cathedral survived the fire of 1818, it did sustain some damage during an air raid in 1944 and was restored after the war, being consecrated for the 3rd time in 1959.

CATHEDRAL FACADE The front of the Cathedral is made from Untersberg Marble. The three gates at the entrance of the Cathedral represent 3 divine virtues, Faith, Love and Hope (running from left to right). The dates appearing above the gates, 774, 1628 and 1959 signify the three years during which the Cathedral was consecrated. The four huge statues  represent St Peter and St Paul, respectively holding a key and sword as well as St Rupert and St Virgil holding a barrel of salt and a model of the cathedral. You’ll remember that St Virgil built the first church on this spot while St Rupert is the patron Saint of Salzburg.

The coats of arms you can see are for Prince Archbishops Markus Sittikus and Paris-Lodron, the two men responsible for the Cathedral.

The square in front of the Cathedral is used every year for the performance of ‘Jedermann’ (‘Everyman’ – a play by the Austrian playwright Hugo von Hoffmannsthal) as part of the Salzburg Festival.

Fun Fact

If you stand under the arches facing the facade of the cathedral (beyond the statue of Mary) and look upwards, you can see the angels at the top of the church crowning the statue of Mary.

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CATHEDRAL INTERIOR The interior of the Cathedral is really impressive with the main feature, the dome, coming in at just over 70 metres high. The dome displays 16 frescos in two rows of 8, each depicting a scene from the old testament. Also of note is the baptismal font just inside the entrance. This dates from the early 1300s and is where Mozart was baptised. It’s also believed that Joseph Mohr, composer of Silent Night, was baptised here. There are a total of 5 organs and Mozart used to play the ‘Hoforgel’, the one at the south east of the Cathedral.



The Cathedral boasts 7 bells in total, 2 dating back to 1628 with the others cast in 1961. Together they weigh 32 tons. The pealing of the bells of Salzburg Cathedral is generally considered to be the most beautiful in Austria. Feast days provide a treat when all bells are rung. Initially all 7 are rung together, followed by each bell on its own, starting with the smallest, before all seven are rung again. This normally happens at 3pm, but be sure to check the Cathedral website if you want to be sure.

The Cathedral can hold about 1,000 seated guests and as well as regular religious Masses and services, frequently hosts concerts. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, from June to September, organ recitals are held at 11.15am lasting about an hour.    



The Cathedral crypt is worth seeing. Here you will see what remains of the churches built prior to the existing one. You will also find the tombs of many of Salzburg’s Prince Archbishops (and even some more recent Archbishops).

Missing, and denied his rightful resting place by his successor, is of course Wolf Dietrich. You will find his mausoleum in the cemetery at St Sebastian on Linzergasse. You can’t help but think he’d have preferred to be in the middle of it all in the Cathedral rather than in the quiet and peaceful St Sebastian’s.        

Don’t Miss

The really impressive 70m dome.

Opening Hours:

January – February & November
Mon – Sat : 8am to 5pm
Sunday : 1pm to 5pm

March – April & October & December
Mon – Sat : 8am to 6pm
Sunday : 1pm to 6pm

May – August
Mon – Sat : 8am to 7pm
Sunday : 1pm to 7p,

The Crypt is open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm and from 1pm to 5pm on Sundays and religious holidays.

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From The Twitterverse


- February 5, 2018, 6:53 am

The colours on the #Untersberg were particularly stunning this morning as the sun rose over #Salzburg.
h J R

- January 31, 2018, 4:58 pm

If only I had a better camera. The great big moon they’ve been talking about for days is every bit as impressive as…
h J R

- January 26, 2018, 8:04 am

Who would have thought a cemetery could be such a highlight? St Peter’s Cemetery via…
h J R

- January 25, 2018, 6:34 am

The start of another beautiful day in #Salzburg.
h J R

- January 24, 2018, 9:57 am

RT @WurldTwaveller: Lovely clear view from the #Kapuzinerberg this morning in #Salzburg. @MdMSalzburg with #Hochstaufen in the background.…
h J R

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