Austria: Salzburg: The Dom – a Memorable Visit

I mentioned in an earlier post that we missed out on seeing the Dom in Salzburg on the Saturday because we had no tickets for the concert. So before leaving Salzberg, we were determined to at least see that one special place. We ventured forth very early over the river to the “Dom Quarter” by trolley bus. It’s so easy with a Salzburg Card. Our main bus stop was outside the Mirabell Schloss, just two blocks from our hotel. All we had to do, was check the map of the bus and trolley bus routes, find the bus route that would take us close to the old town, hop on and go. My feet were so relieved. Not so much footpath pounding. We had explored all that area by foot, now it was time to take the bus!

P1070454  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1070454 © JT of jtdytravels

The bus dropped us close to the old town where we walked throught the narrow streets, empty early in the morning, to the Dom Square. And there, we found to our delight that the church was open. Even more to our delight it was EMPTY. One couple came in for a couple of minutes and then left. After that we had that whole magnificent building to ourselves for half an hour except for a member of staff putting out fresh candles for the day. In the photo above, David, centre aisle, seems dwarfed by the immensity of this magnificent building. Above him is the dome, in front the altar, and surrounding him on the walls are four of the five sets of pipes for the organ. To hear this organ will be top of the list for going back to Salzburg again, outside of the tourist season. It’s just one of the things that will take us back.


P1070460  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

One of the four side organs in the Dom : P1070460 © JT of jtdytravels

So we may have missed the concert, and we may not have heard the music of the five organs in this place where Mozart played and wrote much of his religious based music, but we had an experience not shared by many. We sat in total silence and peace in one of the most beautiful baroque buildings in the world.


P1070457  © JT  of  jtdytravels

P1070457 © JT of jtdytravels

We were mesmerised by the wonderful art works and sculptures, the space and light, the whole feeling of “being” in a place created with love and skill by so many artisans. How lucky were we to have to time and quiet to take it all in!


P1070072 © DY of jtdytravels

P1070072 © DY of jtdytravels

There are several photos in the Dom of the damage done to the dome by a bomb in World War II. It took many skilled hands to restore it, and the rest of the church, to the state it is in today.


P1070051 ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1070051 © DY of jtdytravels

As I looked up into the perfection of that rebuilt dome, it gave me pause for reflection and remembrance for those whose lives are being torn asunder still today by war and strife. One could not help reflecting in that place of perfect peace, on the need for peace in this world of ours.

Of course the stillness and beauty of the moment was all too soon broken by the first group of chattering, clattering people as the Dom returned to its status as Salzburg’s main tourist attraction. We were so grateful for our very special experience in this church which is really the embodiment of Salzburg’s long history as an ecclesiastical principality. The story of this church showcases in one building, the power and independence of Salzburg’s succession of Prince-Archbishops.

The very first cathedral on this site was built by Bishop Virgil who came to Salzburg in 767. It was consecrated to St Virgil and St Rupert in 774.  That cathedral stood until 1167 when the “Counts of the Plain” destroyed Salzburg with fire. Ten years later, in the time of Archbishop Conrad III, the Cathedral was rebuilt in Romanesque style; it was described as beautiful, magnificent, impressive. That Cathedral stood until 1598 when another fire raged through the building.


Prince-Archbishop Wolf Deitrich

Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich

Now this was in the time of the reign of Prince-Arshbishop Wolf Dietrich, the one who built Mirabell Schloss. He had great plans for a complete rebuild of the Cathedral. He commanded that the damaged building be torn down. In doing that, valuable sculptures and gravestones of previous archbishops were destroyed, and even more ruthless, he had the cemetery plowed up and the bones of the dead just thrown on the debris pile. As can be imagined, the citizens of Salzburg were not greatly impressed by this! They were, in fact, outraged. But, nonetheless, the foundation stone for the new cathedral was laid in 1610.

But 1611 was a turning point in the fortunes of Wolf Dietrich… and of the Cathedral. After bitter disputes over the salt trade, Wolf Dietrich ordered military occupation of one the major salt mines at Berchtesgaten. In response, Bavarian troops stormed the  archbishopric in Salzburg. Wolf Dietrich tried to flee but was captured and imprisoned in the Fort above the city, Hohensalzburg.

Wolf Dietrich’s nephew Markus Sittikus took over as Prince-Archbishop. He kept Wolf Dietrich as a prisoner in the Fort and had Wolf Dietrich’s mistress, Salome Alt and their children banished from the city. It was Markus Sittikus who commissioned Santino Solari to build the new cathedral, the first Baroque church north of the Alps.

Ther are many more stories about the history of Salzburg in the Salzburg Museum on the Dom Square. That’s a must visit for next time, as is a visit to the Royal Residence, also in the Dom Square and only recently restored and opened.


P1070461 ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1070461 © JT of jtdytravels

Before leaving, we took many photos to share on our flickr site, but the ones above, will give some idea of why the Dom is so special. It is stunning!

As more and more people began to arrive at the Dom, we left to wander down to the small streets and enjoy a quiet breakfast in a quiet square. Now that’s when Salzburg is at its best. We hope to go back one day to enjoy so much more of this fine city and of its surrounding countryside, villages, mountains and extensive lakes areas.


P1070485  ©  JT  of  jtdyravels

P1070485 © JT of jtdyravels

Having enjoyed so much of the art and sculptures of the baroque period, it was interesting to pass by a contemporary art gallery on the lower side of the Dom Square. One of the larger pieces, above, was striking, yet simple in its construction using plain running stitches in green wool on black silk.

All too soon it was time to head back to our hotel to collect our bags, climb on board another bus to the main rail station for our train to Innsbruck. We need not have hurried as it turned out. Our 11am train did not get away from the station before a strike of rail and station workers, called to start at 11am, began.  As other trains arrived at the many platforms of this station, they too stayed still. It was an odd feeling to be sitting in a train at a station full of trains going nowhere.

The stop work meeting concluded at 12 noon and we were soon on our way to Innsbruck. More of that city anon.

Jennie and David

Photography ©  JT and DY  of jtdytravels

More photos on our flickr site

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