Salzburg Cathedral II.

The first article about the Salzburg Cathedral was dedicated to its history and interior. However, the cathedral is also unique because it is not only a church but a large museum as well – a complex which connects the church with the former archepiscopal residence. A 1,3 km long tour will take you to several rooms and allow you to take delight in different beautiful objects.

The Cathedral and Diocese Museum is located in the upper oratories of the church. You can see here monstrances, crosiers, missals and other liturgical objects – copper, gilded, decorated with semi-precious stones – but also paintings and sculptures from the 8th – 19th centuries brought from the other churches and monasteries that belonged to the Archdiocese of Salzburg. I was surprised that you are walking among the precious and valuable items and at the same time, you can hear the rustle, prayers or organ music directly from the cathedral. As if you both were and were not in a church…

One of the most beautiful objects is the Eucharistic enamel dove produced at Limoges in south-western France. It was used to keep consecrated hosts. The dove is a symbol of the Holy Spirit and the Resurrection. There are only twelve vessels like this one in the whole world.

Walking through the museum you will also arrive behind the organ. The angels are closer here and the wall paintings can show their contents better. Also, the view downwards to the main ship of the cathedral is amazing. You can see the balconies on the walls of the church as well. These are no loges for any prominent guests but the place where musicians and singers used to stand during the holy masses in the past. Because the “divine” music should come from above, from Heaven…

Thanks to the connecting wings, the Prince-Archbishops could comfortably get to their residence palace with dry feet. The staterooms are really elegant and sumptuous. One of the rooms was used as a Throne Hall under Habsburg’s reign.

You probably will not know where to look first – at the precious furniture, crystal chandeliers and other interior objects or at gorgeous paintings on the walls or frescoes on the ceilings. Some of them are made by Johann Michael Rottmayr, a well-known Austrian painter. One of them depicts the famous story which took place at the wedding of Peleus and Thetis which led to the Trojan War.

In the White Hall, the agreement between Austria and Bavaria was signed on May 1st, 1816. Since then, Salzburg definitely belongs to Austria.

The Long Gallery had already been designed as a gallery originally. The windows are orientated to North to prevent the sun to come in and suck out the colours of the paintings.

The Cabinet of Curiosities received its name thanks to the different objects put in showcases or hanged from the ceiling which come from abroad. Some of them were indeed very strange and unknown to the people in the past. However, there is also a collection of objects typical for the region of Salzburg – beautiful, fine vessels made of local rock crystal or products made of horns of the wild goats known as the Steinbock. The Prince-Archbishops owned the privilege to hunt these wild animals.

However, you shouldn’t look at the exhibited objects only. There are several points with gorgeous views of the city, its inhabitants and tourists, its streets, houses and other churches.

After you step out of the cathedral, don’t forget to take a look at its front facade framed with two 81 m high towers. On their clock dials, you can see four heads of angels blowing with all their might. These represent the cardinal points and wind directions.

The facade is covered with the fine, light limestone which reminds of marble. It comes from the nearby hill Unterberg. When the sun shines, the cathedral brightens up in white. Except for the four Evangelists – recognizable by a book and a feather in their hands – there are many other details: coats of arms, shells, bunches of fruits, a lion and a steinbock as the heraldic animals of two important Prince-Archbishops Markus Sittikus and Paris Lodron who contributed to the construction of this church. And on the top, the scene of the Transfiguration of Jesus on Mount Tabor, next to him the prophet Elijah on the right and Moses holding the Ten Commandments on the left.

It is possible that the bells will start ringing, there are seven of them in the Salzburg Cathedral. The Viennese boast that their Pummerin bell in the St Stephen’s Cathedral is the biggest one, while the Salzburg bell Salvator is on the 2nd place as to size and weight, but the people in Salzburg say that the sound of their bells is much prettier.

Look at the two angels on the facade holding a crown as well. It is said that if you walk towards the cathedral through the arcades of the Wallis-wing, at one moment, it looks like they place the crown on the head of the Virgin Mary statue in the middle of the square. Is it true? You can find out in my video:

The immaculate Mary is standing on a globe and a hill of clouds made also of the Unterberg marble. There are four allegoric figures which symbolize angels, the devil, wisdom and the Church.

The atmosphere of the square is unthinkable without the carriages. You can rent them and explore the old town this way.

You might also be lucky to meet the army of dragoons in colourful uniforms marching through the square wearing flags, drums or even a cannon. In Salzburg, always something happens

I walked to the Residence square to enjoy a look at the magnificent Baroque fountain built in the 17th century. Four horses seem to jump out of the rock. Four strong giants stand on it, hunched under the weight of a huge bowl. Three dolphins are inside the bowl, they lift a large shell with their tails. Triton is standing in the shell and shoots water into the air.

Once more, I looked at the cathedral and suddenly it seemed to me that the dome was somehow asymmetrical. Is it just an optical illusion or is it really like that?

It’s true, the dome is not completely symmetrical. The architect built a wide staircase inside the dome so it is a little bit awry. But there is also a legend about it. The devil was angry that people managed to renovate the collapsed dome after a bomb hit it in 1944. The devil decided to destroy it again but the noise woke up the lion and steinbock (the heraldic animals from the facade) which slept under the dome. They fought for the cathedral and when daybreak came and the bells started ringing, the devil vanished and the dome remained saved. However, since then, there is a “bump” on the dome… One day, if I manage to get inside the dome, I will check if there really is a staircase! 🙂

Read also:

Opening hours and tickets to the DomQuartier:

More information about Salzburg on

Text: © Copyright Ingrid, Travelpotpourri
Fotos: © Copyright Ingrid, Travelpotpourri


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