When you walk through the arches leading from Residenzplatz into Domplatz, it's easy to see why Max Reinhardt chose it in August of 1920 as the setting for what has become the annual summer production of Hugo von Hofmannsthal's Jedermann (Everyman). The plaza is one of Salzburg's most beautiful urban set pieces. In the center rises the Virgin's Column, and at one side is the cathedral, considered to be the first early Italian baroque building north
of the Alps. Its facade is of marble, its towers reach 250 feet into the air, and it holds 10,000 people. There has been a cathedral on this spot since the 8th century, but the present structure dates from the 17th century. The cathedral honors the patron saint of Salzburg, St. Rupert, who founded Nonnberg Abbey around 700, and also the Irish St. Virgil, the founder of the first cathedral consecrated in 774, whose relics lie buried beneath the altar. Archbishop Wolf-Dietrich took advantage of the old Romanesque-Gothic cathedral's destruction by fire in 1598 to demolish the remains and make plans for a huge new structure facing onto the Residenzplatz to reaffirm Salzburg's commitment to the Catholic cause. His successor, Markus Sittikus, and the new court architect, Santino Solari, started the present cathedral in 1614; it was consecrated with great ceremony in 1628 during the Thirty Years' War. The church's simple sepia-and-white interior, a peaceful counterpoint to the usual baroque splendor, dates from a later renovation. To see remains of the old cathedral, go down the steps from the left-side aisle into the crypt where the archbishops from 1600 on are buried. Mozart's parents, Leopold and Anna-Maria, were married here in 1747. Mozart was christened, the day after he was born, at the 14th-century font here, and he later served as organist from 1779 to 1781. Some of his compositions, such as the Coronation Mass, were written for the cathedral. On Sunday and all Catholic holidays, mass is sung at 10 am —the most glorious time to experience the cathedral's full splendor. This is the only house of worship in the world with five independent fixed organs, which are sometimes played together during special church-music concerts. Many of the church's treasures are in a special museum on the premises, entry to which now offers visitors access to the corridors that once only the Archbishops walked, linking the five historic landmarks overlooking the Domplatz.
Jun 8, 2004
Salzburg was intended to become the "Rome of the North". In this church, you can see that they certainly made a gallant effort. The inside is truly beautiful and the outside courtyard gives much room for taking photos. If you get lucky, you might be there when a singing group is performing. We happened to be there when a group from our home state was there--quite a coincidence. Do visit this Salzburg sight.