Alte Universität: Old University Salzburg

The Old University (left) and the Festival Hall (right).

The Alte Universität is a Baroque campus, a cluster of buildings in the city centre of Salzburg that was home to the first Benedictine university that Salzburg had, founded by Prince Archbishop Paris Lodron in 1623. Most of the buildings, however, pre-date the foundation and were started in 1617.

They used space that had previously been occupied by a nunnery (Petersfrauen) for agricultural production (the so-called Frauengarten or woman′s garden). Note that the foundation of the university and many other expensive facilities coincided with the 30-Years-War. This can be interpreted in the light of Salzburg′s outstanding wealth that climaxed in the 17th century.

The construction of the Alte Universität buildings was essentially completed in 1750, even though many additional works have been done since then - the last as recently as in 2009. The oldest sections were built for the "Gymnasium", a kind of school that was founded by Prince Archbishop Markus Sittikus von Hohenems (today′s Akademisches Gymnasium). They include the old university chapel Saecellum, which is now again the "headquarter" of Salzburg University′s Catholic student organisation.

A 17th Century Campus for Salzburg University

In 1627, the official cathedral builder (Dombaumeiser) Santoni Solari was put in charge with the project of adopting the existing courts for the university. The Große Aula (sort of the congregation hall, the ceremonial centre of the university) and the northern wing were completed until 1630; the southern wing was built between 1652 and 1655. Some of the arcades in the central courtyard (today′s Furtwänglerpark) were covered later on and reconstructed only in the 1980ies; the Große Aula was modernised in 2006, when the Furtwänglerpark and the University Library were renovated and re-arranged.

In 1663, the Saecellum was extended and gained its current shape; only the interiors were altered again rather drastically when a new altar was built in 1766. Note that sometimes the Wallistrakt is also considered to be part of the Alte Universität; the Wallistrakt (the current Faculty of Law) was built in 1606 and extended by additional floors in 1690. It is not linked to the main campus. A more significant feature is the university church, the famous Kollegienkirche, built around 1700. Note also our article on the old botanical gardens of the Alte Universität and on the modern University of Salzburg.

Hidden Treasures of Salzburg

Official Website of the University of Salzburg
SalzburgWiki on the Old University

back to sightseeing