Salzburg Cathedral (German: Salzburger Dom) is the seventeenth-century Baroque cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Salzburg in the city of Salzburg, Austria, dedicated to Saint Rupert and Saint Vergilius. Saint Rupert founded the church in 774 on the remnants of a Roman town, the cathedral was rebuilt in 1181 after a fire.
In the seventeenth century, the cathedral was completely rebuilt in the Baroque style under Prince-Bishop Wolf Dietrich Raitenau to its present appearance. Salzburg Cathedral still contains the baptismal font in which composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was baptized.
Salzburg’s Cathedral is probably the city’s most significant piece of church architecture and its ecclesiastical center. With its magnificent façade and mighty dome it represents the most impressive early Baroque edifice north of the Alps.
Its origin is closely connected to the ecclesiastical principality’s demeanour and growth. Destroyed by fire and rebuilt, enlarged and expanded, it bears witness to the power and independence of Salzburg’s archbishops.
History of Salzburg Cathedral
This site has hosted a Christian church since 774. The original was replaced with a late-Romanesque structure built in 1181−1200.
The Romanesque cathedral burned down in 1598 and Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich took advantage of (some would say caused) the destruction to demolish the rest and make plans for a grand new cathedral to reaffirm Salzburg’s commitment to the Catholic cause in the face of the Reformation.
However, Dietrich’s overthrow prevented the completion of this project. The present cathedral was commissioned by Archbishop Markus Sittikus Count Hohenems and designed by the Italian architect Santino Solari. It was consecrated in 1628 by Archbishop Paris Count Lodron.
What to See at Salzburg Cathedral
The cathedral’s plaza is a complete aesthetic concept and one of Salzburg’s most beautiful urban set pieces. In the center rises the Virgin’s Column with a 1771 statue of the Virgin Mary.
Considered by some to be the most perfect Renaissance building in the German-speaking countries, Salzburg Cathedral has a marble facade, twin west towers topped with green domes and a large green-roofed dome over the crossing. The bronze doors (1959) illustrate the themes of Faith, Hope, and Love.
The church’s simple sepia-and-white interior, a peaceful contrast to the usual Baroque excesses, dates from a later renovation. It is decorated with elaborate Baroque murals, some of which were designed (along with the altarpieces) by Mascagni of Florence. The dome was damaged during World War II but was restored by 1959.
Near the entrance, look for the Romanesque font at which Mozart was baptized. The great composer later served as organist here from 1779 to 1781. Some of his compositions, such as the Coronation Mass, were written for the cathedral, and many were performed here for the first time. The font is made of bronze and decorated with reliefs of saints.
In the modern crypt, traces of the old Romanesque cathedral that once stood on this spot have been unearthed. The cathedral excavations are entered around the corner (left of the Dom entrance). This exhibition of excavation work shows ruins of the original foundation.
The cathedral’s treasures and the «arts and wonders» the archbishops collected in the 17th century, are displayed in the Dom Museum (tel. 0662/84−41−89), entered through the cathedral.