Salzburg’s Cathedral is probably the city's most significant piece of church architecture and its ecclesiastical center. The cathedral is considered to be the most impressive baroque masterpiece north of the Alps due to its majestic façade and mighty dome. Its origin is closely tied to the ecclesiastical principality’s conduct and growth. As it burnt in fire and was rebuilt again, also expanded and enlarged, the cathedral still holds the memories of the power and independence of Salzburg’s archbishops. The first cathedral was situated on the exactly same spot and was created by Bishop Virgil who came to Salzburg in 767 – the cathedral replaced the former Roman Juvavum. On September 24, 774 the cathedral was sanctified to St. Virgil and St. Rupert. In 1167 the city was set afire by the Counts of Plain, followers of the emperor Friedrick Barbarossa, which led to the destruction of the cathedral. The rebuilding and renovation of the cathedral was carried out ten years later by ordinance of Archbishop Conrad III of Wittelsbach and thus became more fascinating, more magnificent and more impressive than ever before – it became the mightiest Romanesque cathedral north of the Alps, superior by size even to the emperor’s cathedral in Speyer.
Four hundred years later another fire raged and destroyed large sections of the cathedral in 1598. This afforded Archbishop Wolf Dietrich the opportunity to demolish the damaged cathedral and to make plans for its reconstruction. The Salzburg residents were extremely shocked by the ruthless actions of the archbishop. Except for the fact that many valuable sculptures and gravestones of the archbishops were destroyed, the cemetery of the cathedral was plowed under and the bones of the dead were dumped on the debris. Because of his quarrel with Bavaria over salt mining rights he was arrested and imprisoned in the Hohensalzburg Fortress by his nephew and successor, Markus Sittikus von Hohenems, which led to a bitter end to the numerous construction projects that Wolf Dietrich had planned. After the death of Wolf Dietrich, the architect Santino Solari was authorized by Archbishop Markus Sittikus to rebuild the Cathedral, which made it the first early Baroque church north of the Alps. Markus Sittikus did not live to see the solemn sanctification of the Cathedral by Archbishop Paris Lodron during the chaos of the Thirty Years' War on September 25, 1628. Through Paris Lodron’s clever diplomacy, the heavily fortified city escaped most of the hardships of the Thirty Years' War so that the consecration of the Cathedral became the largest and most pompous festival that Salzburg ever experienced. The centuries of supreme rule by the Salzburg prince bishops were ended by the Napoleonic Wars. When the last prince bishop, Hieronymus von Colloredo, was dethroned, his place was taken by the first Habsburg, Ferdinand III, Grand Duke of Tuscany who took the government of Salzburg.
Among the precious objects to be found in Salzburg's Cathedral are the baptismal font in which Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was baptized, the majestic main organ, surrounded by angels playing instruments and crowned by Rupert and Virgil, as well as the magnificent Cathedral portals made by Scheider-Manzell, Mataré and Manzú. As a court organist and concert master, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed there many of his masterpieces which are still considered part of the undying works of sacred music for Salzburg.
Festival Halls in Salzburg
At the foot of the Mönchsberg one can find the so called festival district. The Small Festival Hall was built during the period between 1924 and 1926. The Large Festival Hall was created according to the plans and designs of Clemens Holzmeister from 1956 to 1960. The Felsenreitschule (Rocky Riding School) was established in 1693 following the plans of Fischer von Erlach. Serving as site of the annual Salzburg Festival’s main performances, the Horse Pond was built in 1695 by the architect Michael Bernhard Mandl. The three theatres combined in the Salzburg Festival are the main stages of the festival and what is more – they are within close proximity.
The Large Festival Hall was built according to the plans of the Austrian architect Clemens Holzmeister and was launched by Herbert von Karajan in 1960. The facade of the horse stables in baroque style, designed by Fischer von Erlach, was retained as it was a part of the intermission foyers. The building has room for an audience numbering 2177 people with an excellent view of the stage. The Large Festival Hall is used for the performance of operas and celebration concerts. Its stage and orchestra pit are creation of the stage designer Richard Peduzzi and the portal of the main stage can be moved between about fourteen and thirty meters.
The Small Festival Hall (which actually is not so small) can seat up to 1324 people and has room for about 60 more. It was built in 1924 and from then till now it has undergone numerous architectural changes and was last adapted by Hans Hofmann and Erich Engels. A widely-known fresco, painted by Anton Faistauer in 1926, is used as decoration of the entrance hall.
Built in 1077 by Archbishop Gebhard and since then considerably enlarged by Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach, the Hohensalzburg Fortress is now thought to be one of the largest and best preserved fortresses in central Europe. Interesting for the tourists are mainly the medieval princes’ apartments and the Museum of the fortress. This fortress can be easily reached by funicular railway ever since 1892 which departs from the Festungsgasse. The more than nine-hundred-year-old citadel dates back to the investiture controversy between emperor and pope over the right to appoint the bishop. Due to his faithfulness to the pope, Archbishop Gerhard von Salzburg had the strongholds of Hohensalzburg, Hohenwerfen and Friesach built on his sovereign territory in 1077. The interior of the fortress was luxuriously decorated - complicated Gothic wood-carvings and ornamental paintings still decorate the Golden Hall and the Golden Chamber. Fifty-eight insignia and coats of arms with the beetroot are commemorative of Leonhard von Keutschach. The beetroot is held in the paws of a lion which is the symbol of the fortress. The addition of the Kuenberg bastion is one of the newest and most extensive modifications
Despite the fact that the Hohensalzburg Fortress has a really long history, it has never been conquered by enemy troops. Besides being the temporary residence of the prince archbishops and a fortification, the fortress also functioned as military barracks and a prison for a while.
Nowadays the fortress is open for public visits throughout the whole year and it also is host of the International Summer Academy which gathers many artists from around the world.
Mozart’s Birthplace and Residence
The family of Leopold Mozart lived on Getreidegasse № 9 during the period between 1747 and 1773 and this is the place where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on January 27, 1756. Today the rooms which were once the home of the Mozart’s family are turned into a museum. Today’s most famous exhibitions show Mozart’s childhood violin, his concert violin, his clavichord, the pianoforte, some portraits and the correspondence of his family. This museum was firstly set up in Mozart’s birthplace, Getreidegasse № 9 by the International Mozart Foundation in June 15, 1880. The International Mozarteum Foundation gradually renewed the museum throughout the last few decades and as a result it became a cultural site attracting thousands of visitors from around the world to Salzburg every year.
The earliest documentary evidence of Mozart’s Residence, also known as the Tanzmeisterhaus, dates back to 1617. It contained two buildings until 1685. On August 3, 1711 Lorenz Speckner was authorized to conduct dancing lessons for the aristocracy in the building. In those days the dancing masters had very important role – they didn’t only give dancing lessons to the young aristocrats but also prepared them for the life in the court and were perfectly versed in the complicated court ceremonies.
St. Peter's burial ground with its unique background is one of the oldest and most interesting cemeteries in the world. It serves as the final resting place for many outstanding personalities, artists, scholars and merchants, including Nannerl Mozart, sister of Wolfgang. One can see the Romanesque Chapel of the Holy Cross and St. Margaret’s Chapel, dating from the 15th century. The cemetery and its chapels are rich in blue-blooded history, monuments to a way of life long vanished. One can also take a self-guided tour through the early Christian catacombs in the rock above the burial ground. St. Gertrude’s Chapel and the Maximus Chapel are especially worth seeing.
In 1612, only a few months after ascending the throne, Salzburg’s Prince Archbishop Markus Sittikus von Hohenems commissioned a country residence to be built at the foot of the well-watered Hellbrunn Mountain. Impressed by Italian art and culture, Markus Sittikus commissioned the renowned architect, Santino Solari, to design a "villa suburbana" - a large summer residence with magnificent Italian architecture. In no time an architectural masterwork was built south of the city that remains one of the most fascinating Renaissance structures north of the Alps – the Pleasure Palace of Hellbrunn with a beautiful large park and its unique Trick fountains. Water was the central theme in the palace’s design. The many sources in the mountain gave the structure streaming life. Embedded in bushes and trees or running from unexpected hiding places the world-famous Wasserspiele have been the main attraction at Hellbrunn for about four hundred years. With its splendid ballrooms, fascinating gardens and unique trick fountains, the palace was mainly used as the site of sumptuous celebrations and festivals, stupendous events and cultural highlights. Visitors once coming to Hellbrunn for excursions and hunts, now come for gatherings, seminars and splendid social events. And maybe the reason that the palace has become so popular venue for international events is that it was built for that very purpose so long ago!
One can enjoy a lovely ride to the top of the Untersberg Mountain in a large cabin of cable car. During the ride, you will have magnificent views of the Rositten Valley and the surrounding mountains. Once atop the mountain, one can hike to the Geiereck (1805 meters), visit the mountain climbers’ memorial or walk to the Salzburg Hochthron Mountain (1856 meters). From the summit, one is able to see the magnificent Salzburg Lake District, as well as the ice covered Hohen Tauern Mountains. Also interesting to visit is the Hochalm restaurant and the Zeppezauer house while on the Untersberg Mountain.
Rupertinum (Museum of Modern Art)
The gallery, housed in a 17th-century building, is famous for its wide variety of temporary exhibits, plus a permanent collection of works by Klimt, Kokoschka and lesser-known artists. There is also a display of photography and graphic arts. Although it is not the greatest attraction around, it is a nice site for those interested in 20th-century art.
There are so many attractions and places of interest in Salzburg that it is impossible to mention all. Also worth seeing are Mirabell Palace and Garden, Museum Carolino Augusteum, The Baroque Museum, The Holy Trinity Church, The Residence Gallery, Linzergasse, Stiegl’s World of Brewing, Salzburg’s Zoo, Miracle's Wax-museum and many more! Also numerous sightseeing tours in the beautiful surrounding of Salzburg are not to be missed.
Also you may want to visit the Salzburg Tourist Information and Salzburg Transportation.