In 1591, Archbishop Wolf Dietrich bought a hospital and church in today’s Kaiviertel quarter to set up a seminary. This was to be led by the Theatine order, founded by Saint Cajetan and Pope Paul IV in 1524. In 1685, they were brought to Salzburg to form a local order. Shortly afterwards, it was decided to build a church and monastery at this site in the Kaiviertel quarter.
An architect was quickly found in Gaspare Zugalli, while Antionio Carabelli, along with brothers Francesco and Carl-Antonio Brenno were appointed as plasterers. When the commissioner Max Gandolf died in 1687, work on the Kajetaner Church (Kajetanerkirche) ceased. The church was eventually finished under Archbishop Johann Ernst von Thun in 1696, and inaugurated in 1700. In 1809, the Salzburg Theatine order was abandoned, and the Kajetaner Church (Kajetanerkirche) was nearly lost. In 1923, the church and monastery were handed over to the order of the ‘Barmherzige Brüder’, who devoted themselves to their upkeep. During the Second World War, the building was used as a military hospital, was damaged by bombing in 1944, and then rebuilt.
The vast, palace-like facade makes the church and monastery seem like a unified complex. It’s framed by an imposing oval dome that highlights the sacred nature of the building. The moulding on the inside of the church gives it a festive, stately and clear feel. The dome provides lots of light, highlighting a fresco showing Saint Cajetan being welcomed into heaven. The main alter in the Kajetaner Church (Kajetanerkirche) shows the martyrdom of Saint Maximilian. The oldest organ in Salzburg is built into the parapet, and was constructed in around 1700 by Christoph Egedacher.
Only climbable on bended knees, the Holy Stairs are a a real highlight in the Kajetaner Church (Kajetanerkirche), created in 1712 to emulate the Scala Santa in Rome. Even today, it reminds visitors of Baroque devotion.