- SALZBURG PART 5 -

Cemetery and St Peter Abbey Church (Basilica)

LINKS to pages in the Salzburg site and to the Colin Day Travelling Days series:

1 : Mirabell Gardens and Old Town
2 : Mozart Birthplace
3 : University Church and Cathedral
4 : Funicular and Fortress
5 : Cemetery and St Peter Abbey (Basilica)
6 : Theatre,Residenz and Sachertorte
HOME PAGE : AUSTRIA 2009
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A parting shot over the large fortress courtyard and surrounding countryside before the funicular journey back into the old town (left).

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Petersfriedhof, or St. Peter's Cemetery, is the oldest Christian graveyard in Salzburg, dating back to 1627. It is a worthy attraction in itself, but many visitors come to see the place where the Von Trapp family hid out in The Sound of Music.

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Sheltered by the Mönchsberg and enclosed by elegant wrought-iron fences, the cemetery consists primarily of Baroque porticoes housing chapels of Salzburg's old wealthy families. Many of the aristocratic families of Salzburg lie buried here, along with many other notable figures.

The graves are lovingly tended by Salzburg families, decorated with candles, fir branches, and flowers. Pansies are the most popular flower, because their name means "thoughts."

Crypt LIV, by the catacombs, contains the remains of Mozart's sister, Nannerl, an exceptionally gifted musician herself. The same crypt has the body of Joseph Haydn's younger brother, Michael (his head is in an urn stored in St. Peter's Church).

The cemetery includes two notable chapels: the Romanesque Chapel of the Holy Cross and the 15th-century St. Margaret's Chapel.

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St Peter's Abbey (Basilica) in Salzburg was founded by Saint Rupert in 696 for the mission to the South Alps and is thus considered one of the oldest monasteries in the German-speaking world, if not in fact the oldest. Until 987 the office of bishop was joined to that of abbot: the two were always held together by one man.

In the Middle Ages St Peter's was known for its exceptional writing school. In the 15th century the abbey adopted the Melk Reforms. In 1623 Archbishop Paris Graf von Lodron founded the Benedictine University of Salzburg, which until its dissolution in 1819 was closely connected to the abbey.

In 1926 the endeavours of Abbot Petrus Klotz for the establishment of a Catholic university led to the foundation of the Benedictine college ("Kolleg St. Benedikt"), on which later the re-foundation of the University of Salzburg was based.

In 1927 St. Peter's Abbey was raised to the status of an Archabbey. During the National Socialist period the monks were expelled, but the monastery was not dissolved. The monks returned after the war. Since 1997 Archabbot Edmund Wagenhofer has been head of St. Peter's.

From 1641 the abbey was a member of the Salzburg Congregation, merged in 1930 into the present Austrian Congregation (of which it is the principal house) of the Benedictine Confederation.

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As mentioned above, the Abbey Church or Basilica of St. Peter in Salzburg was founded by St. Rupert, who is buried inside. It is known for its sumptuous Baroque decoration. The present building was constructed in the Romanesque period, then completely renovated in the 17th and 18th centuries in the Baroque style.

Here Mozart's famed Mass in C Minor premiered in 1783, with his wife, Constanze, singing the lead soprano role. Mozart often directed orchestra and choir here and played its organ. During Salzburg's summer music festival in August, the Mass in C Minor is performed here as part of a church music concert.

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Romanesque architecture can be seen inside too, but it is overwhelmed with the decoration in the characteristically sumptuous Late-Baroque style of the 1770s. The side aisles are painted in Rococo style. Behind the Rupert altar is the Felsengrab, where St. Rupert is believed to be buried.

There are several art treasures in the church, including some altar paintings by Kremser Schmidt. The Salzburg Madonna in the left chancel is from the early 15th century. The side chapel by the entrance has an unusual crèche portraying the Flight into Egypt and the Massacre of the Innocents.

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      The ceiling of St Peter's Basilica (below).

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The gateway between the porch and nave (left).

"After exploring the church, consider a meal at the abbey's legendary Weinkeller Restaurant, adjacent to the church. Founded a thousand years ago by the abbey's monks, it serves traditional Austrian food at reasonable prices.

"The Romanesque building still in use today was dedicated in 1147. The interior, already re-modelled several times, was refurbished in the Rococo style between 1760 and 1782 under Abbot Beda Seeauer by Franz Xaver König, Lorenz Härmbler, Johann Högler, Benedikt Zöpf and others."

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