Salzburg Catacombs at St. Peters Cemetery

Today I am going to write something a little bit different than in my casual articles. It is about the Catacombs in the city of Salzburg in Austria.

Sometimes I need to rearrange my thoughts and have some rest. When visiting the catacombs last February I was also in the catacombs from the Salzburger Dom. This led me to a mistake when passing information to a customer.

Catacombs in Salzburg

To complete my Researches, I visited Vienna in March. Too many catacombs and exactly the Salzburg is actually not the common example of a catacomb. As I don’t like such morbid places I came to this mix and mixed things up for a little bit.

After visiting this eerie place I was horribly sick. Since the catacombs are almost empty, you may feel alone in the whole world. Or the next corpse to be in.

Sometimes the city presents concerts and short exhibits and this is great stuff to keep your thoughts on something positive. Sincerely, not for me. The acoustic is not good and the place is not an inviting one.

The St. Peter’s cemetery

The ‘Petersfriedhof’ or ‘St. Peter’s Cemetery’ is – together with the burial site at ‘Nonnberg Abbey’the oldest cemetery in the Austrian city of Salzburg. It is located at the foot of the ‘Festungsberg’ with ‘Hohensalzburg Castle’. This is one of Salzburg’s most popular tourist attractions.

The catacomb was closed in 1878 and the site decayed until in 1930 the monks of St. Peter’s successfully urged for the admission of new burials.

History of the catacombs

Its origins date back to about 700 when the adjacent St. Peter’s Abbey was established by Saint Rupert of Salzburg. The abbey’s cemetery, probably at the site of an even earlier burial place, was first mentioned in an 1139 deed, the oldest tombstone dates to 1228.

The catacombs are carved into the rock of the ‘Festungsberg’ that may stem from the Early Christian days of ‘Severinus of Noricum’ during the ‘Migration Period’. They include two chapels, the ‘Maximuskapelle’ and the ‘Getraudenkapelle’, consecrated in 1178 under the ‘Salzburg Archbishop Conrad of Wittelsbach’ and dedicated to the assassinated ‘Archbishop Thomas Becket of Canterbury.

One of the interesting things that I have found out is that the second chapel which is re – built-in 1491 occupies a site in the center of the cemetery.

These catacombs in Salzburg are surely a highlight of St. Peter’s Cemetery and the most interesting thing tourists, who like it, can see. You can’t imagine how inspiring these caves for some of my Romans can actually be.

The catacombs are hewn out of the ‘Monchsberg’ itself and date back to late antiquity. These mystical caves served both as hermitages as well as burial sites. The Early Christian catacombs may be visited year-round.

After 48 steps you can find a ‘Getrauden Chapel’, dating back to 1178. When you cross 36 steps further, there lies the ‘Maximus Chapel’ entrance and it is free if you possess the ‘Salzburg Card’.

Historical background

The Frankish missionary Rupert was the one by whom the church and abbey of St. Peter’s were founded. Particularly remarkable is the fact that the monastic brotherhood of that time still exists. In that way, they achieve to make it the oldest monastic order in the German-speaking world today.

After several disasters happened, mostly fires, the church, and abbey were restored in a number of different eras, the architecture now incorporating Romanesque, Renaissance and Rococo elements.

St. Peter’s Abbey

When it is about this place, one thing is undoubtedly special. And that is the St. Peter’s Abbey for sure.

St’ Peter’s is only 10 minutes by walk from the River Salzach on the southern edge of the Old Town.

In the heart of Salzburg’s Old Town, St. Peter’s Abbey is known for its cemetery and ancient lineage, dating back to the 800s. The Benedictine monastery’s abbey church has a Romanesque structure and a lavish rococo interior. The abbey library is a treasure trove of musical manuscripts. The abbey also houses a prized collection of artworks, musical instruments, and treasures.

In the abbey cemetery, you can find the tombs of Mozart’s beloved sister and the brother of Haydn where their tombs lie since these days of the present. While you are here, I definitely must recommend visiting the ‘Stifskeller St. Peter’s restaurant’ in the abbey cellars. It is a nice place where you can warm up in these cold days of winter.

Mentioned in a document from year 803, it is thought to be one of the oldest hostelries in entire Europe and is an atmospheric choice for a night out in Salzburg.

Mozart Dinner Concert

The Mozart Dinner Concert take place nearly every day at the historic ‘Baroque Hall of St. Peter’s Abey’. It is an already mentioned restaurant within the walls of St. Peter’s Archabbey – a Benedictine monastery in Salzburg.

Mozart Dinner Concert is a combination of music and fine cuisine in the historic ambiance of the Baroque Hall of St. Peter’s restaurant. People here can enjoy in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s most popular works by candlelight with music played by Salzburg artists in historical costumes.

You can hear wonderful tracks and have a meal with several courses of dishes prepared according to traditional recipes from the 17th and 18th centuries.

Just imagine the joy of living in Mozart’s Salzburg, experience its colorful costumes and culinary delights, be enchanted with the music provided by the artists…truly indescribable.

The Baroque St. Peter

A ‘Stiffskeller St. Peter’ is the oldest restaurant in Europe. It was first mentioned in 803 on occasion of ‘Charlemagne’s visit.

Even the Mozart family had dinner there. In October 1783, Mozart’s sister wrote in her diary: ‘Papa and Henry had lunch at St. Peter… made music..rained heavily’. In 1789 for the first time, Mozart’s c – minor – the mass was performed in the church of St. Peter’s monastery.

Constanze Mozart sang one of the soprano solo parts. The composer Michael Haydn, who was a good friend of Mozart, lived and performed music in the ‘Haydn Room’. When the music is performed, the musicians of this restaurant like to spend time in that room.

One astonishing fact that I found out is that at this place was one a requested organized private Mozart Dinner Concert that was for up to 80 guests.

I hope I redeemed it to the customer with this article and made my excuse complete.

Visiting by your own

I regularly write a new article or update an old one. Salzburg is a very interesting place. Visiting a cemetery or the catacombs you should keep with some rules.

Please be respectful of the place. Still, nowadays families may visit the graves of their lost ones.

Pictures of you smiling or making funny faces may offend members of those families.

The Margarethen Chapel is a place for prayers, so be discrete when entering it.

Keep in mind, the catacombs are rooms for hermits and meditation. This is not a freak show!