Just like that of Salzburg Cathedral, the Franciscan Church’s history dates back to the early days of Christianity in Salzburg. These two places of worship are defined by their contradictions: one is a cathedral, a dominating Baroque bishop’s church, and the other – the Franciscan Church (Franziskanerkirche) – is a sleek, Gothic church of the people. The cathedral is a construction of religious prestige, while the Franciscan Church (Franziskanerkirche) is a place of quiet reflection. The Franciscan Church is open from 6:30 to 19:30 every day.
Unfortunately, we don’t know much about the church’s beginnings: some claim the original building was older than the cathedral. Saint Virgil is said to be responsible for its construction and, like almost all of Salzburg’s places of worship, it was beset by fire and became a victim of Kaiser Friedrich Barbarossa’s tribunal in 1167. It was rebuilt at the turn of the 12th century by the up-and-coming people of Salzburg as a symbol, which would be reinforced at the beginning of the 15th century. The confident citizens could afford to have the church refurbished and to bring the region’s best-known architect of the time, Hans von Burghausen, to Salzburg. Hans von Burghausen had made a name for himself with his churches in Landshut and Neuötting. His masterwork is the glorious chancel and its effective use of light and shadow that makes the Franciscan Church so special.
Over the years, the reigning Archbishops carried out structural changes to the Franciscan Church e.g. Wolf Dietrich connected the church to his residence. There are 4 chapels inside the church, all dating back to the 17th century. Wolf Dietrich’s successor, Markus Sittikus, dedicated the northern chapel to his uncle, Karl Borromäus. Wold Dietrich’s chapel features a portrayal of the birth of Christ. Archbishop Max Gandolf’s Anna Chapel lies opposite and features paintings by Christoph Lederwasch, while Johann Ernst Thun’s chapel features a St Francis cycle by Johann Michael Rottmayr.
The Archbishops and citizens seem to have all tried to immortalise themselves in the Franciscan Church, as it encompasses almost all artistic styles from the Romantic to the modern.