Salzburg Cathedral (Salzburger Dom)

Salzburg Cathedral (Salzburger Dom)

The Cathedral is beautiful, with an especially gorgeous geometric dome. The dome was smashed by a single bomb during WWII, but was painstakingly restored by 1959. There was some cathedral seat on this site since the 8th century; the current building dates from the 1600’s. Except for a typically ornate entrance portal, the cathedral is surprisingly simple (and a bit castle or fortress-like), and the interior is also less ornate than many that were built or underwent elaborate renovations in the Baroque period. The ceilings are the most colorful, with many vivid and swirling Baroque ceiling paintings; the walls are ornamented with the usual plaster flowers, swags, and putti, but the uniform neutral color (painted more recently) creates a sense of harmony and calm.

12-30 Cathedral interior

There is also some beautiful woodworking in the side chapels, with altars like this one to the Virgin Mary, dressed in flowers and illuminated by votive candles lit by the faithful. I lit candles here for my father’s soul, and for our frail living parents.

12-30 Madonna and votives Salzburg minor edits

The church was dressed for Christmastide, and like many cathedrals and large Austrian churches, featured a very elaborate crèche with swirling Baroque clouds and detailed figurines.

12-30 Salzburg cathedral creche

Mozart was baptized here, and one of the most important historic features in this cathedral – especially for musicians – is the organ, which Mozart played as music director from 1779 to 1781. The stately “Coronation Mass” was commissioned and performed here. Here is a (not great) photo of the main organ in the rear balcony.

12-30 Salzburg cathedral organ

This is a photo of a smaller, “swallow’s nest” or positif organ – I think I read that there are 4 separate organs here in all! It was wonderful staring up at the console and imagining Mozart’s virtuoso playing right in this very space.

12-30 organ pipes Salzburg cathedral

While the porch is elaborate and Baroque, with three ornamented arches facing the square, the three actual bronze doors date from 1956-58 and represent charity, faith, and hope. My favorite is the “Hope” door, by artist Ewald Mataré. I read it as a beautiful postwar symbol for new beginnings.

12-30 cathedral door Salzburg


About pcooperwhite

Christiane Brooks Johnson Professor of Psychology and Religion, Union Theological Seminary, New York NY
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