St Peter’s Cemetery

It’s not often that a cemetery will feature on a list of top attractions, but this is actually one of the most visited locations in Salzburg. Many notables are buried here and reading the headstones gives an insight into Austrian life over the centuries.

Fraulein Maria Says

This cemetery was the inspiration for the scenes towards the end of the movie, the one where the family hid from the Nazis and the Captain challenged Rolf. The actual scenes were filmed indoors in Hollywood, but there can be no mistaking where they found their inspiration.

This has to be one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world. It is dramatically set into the cliffs of the Mönchsberg, has catacombs dating from the 12th century and thanks to the locals tending the graves, is always stocked with bright, fresh flowers. The cemetery was used by some of the most noble families in Salzburg and there are numerous vaults around the edge of the graveyard, many locked behind wrought iron gates.

While the graveyard was practically abandoned and fell into disrepair in the 1870s, it was brought back into use in the 1930s and ‘new admissions’ are still accepted. Many of the graves are well tended and there’s nearly always some fresh flowers to be seen.

A walk around with graveyard will reveal the titles and occupations of many of the inhabitants. Some of the more notable occupants include ‘Nannerl’ Mozart (Mozart’s sister) and Santino Solari (who designed the Cathedral). You will also find many who have given their names to the streets of Salzburg, including Sigmund Haffner (a mayor of Salzburg), Wolfgang Hagenauer (architect) and Franz Biber (composer). One grave you won’t find is that of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He was buried in St Marx cemetery in Vienna, exact location unknown.

Fun Fact

You will no doubt notice the cluster of 7 graves from the 1700s, all with the surname Stumpfegger. Locals like to tell the story of how Sebastian Stumpfegger murdered his first six wives. One after another, they all died, but despite everyone knowing he had killed them, no trace of murder could ever be found. The truth was finally revealed when his 7th wife managed to escape. He had bound them head to toe and then tickled them until they died.

In actual fact the graves are of Stumpfegger, his parents and his four wives. Stumpfegger was a Master Stonemason and was responsible for much of the work on the Cathedral. The reality is that the sorry tale says more about the mortality rates at the time, especially among women around childbirth. Three of his 4 wives died in childbirth, although in total they left behind 21 children. He did marry a 5th time, but Maria remained childless and survived her husband by 11 years.

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A prominent grave, due to its location along a footpath, is that of Major General Harry Collins, commander of the 42nd US Infantry Division. Most have never heard of him, but as with so many buried here, his is another interesting story. Collins was commander of the Division which liberated Dachau concentration camp in 1945. He is credited with going the extra mile to alleviate the suffering of the prisoners and of doing everything in his power to ensure they were looked after with the best medical care. He was then selected to head the occupation army in Austria and based himself in Salzburg until 1948. During the occupation he was noted for his compassion and his efforts to look after both his own men and the local population. He was especially popular with children and would frequently be seen with dozens of kids in toe.

While in Salzburg he met and fell in love with Irene Gehmacher who later became his second wife. Having moved back to the US to take up several postings, he retired in 1954 before returning to Salzburg several years later. He died here in 1963, aged just 67.

The cemetery is also the location of the Catacombs, where early Christians lived, stored their valuables and were buried. You will still find some two small chapels if you venture up the stairs. We’re not huge fans of the catacombs and the view of the catacombs from the cemetery is probably better than the view from inside. If catacombs are your thing though, then they are probably worth a visit.

Opening Hours:

 

The cemetery is open daily from 6.30am until 8.00pm (6.00pm between October and March). Entry is free.

The Catacombs are open daily as follows:

May – September: 10.00am until 12.30pm and 1.00pm until 6.00pm
October – April: 10.00am until 12.30pm and 1.00pm until 5.00pm

Entrance to the Catacombs costs:
Adults € 2.00
Children (6-15 years) € 1.50
Youths (16-18 years), students, senior citizens € 1.50
Handicapped persons – (Note that they are not wheelchair accessible) € 1.50

From The Twitterverse

@PocketGuideSalz

- February 5, 2018, 6:53 am

The colours on the #Untersberg were particularly stunning this morning as the sun rose over #Salzburg. https://t.co/9ZBouK7rkm
h J R
@PocketGuideSalz

- 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… https://t.co/6v7FEE8OrS
h J R
@PocketGuideSalz

- January 26, 2018, 8:04 am

Who would have thought a cemetery could be such a highlight? St Peter’s Cemetery https://t.co/YlbqepBe0P via… https://t.co/E5lZHQJiQW
h J R
@PocketGuideSalz

- January 25, 2018, 6:34 am

The start of another beautiful day in #Salzburg. https://t.co/O4yx8i9bnG
h J R
@PocketGuideSalz

- 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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