Nonnberg Nunnery - Stift Nonnberg "Abbey"
The nunnery of Stift Nonnberg, in which Fräulein Maria in "The Sound of Music" was in fact never a novice sits on an exposed spot just to the foot of the fortress, visible from almost every point of the city. The nunnery is often incorrectly referred to as "Stift Nonnbeb rg Abbey" and consists of the church Maria Himmelfahrt, the cloisters, a pillared hall, the convent itself, a kitchen court and refectory (dining hall), the old abbey, the St. John′s chapel, the Pieta chapel and a number of smaller buildings.
Nonnberg Nunnery aka Abbey was founded between 713 and 715 and is considered to be the oldest nunnery in the World that existed with no interruptions. The official founder of the nunnery is St. Rupert, but he transferred the responsibility to his sister St. Erentrudis.
The nunnery′s church Maria Himmelfahrt is Salzburg′s oldest church dedicated to the holy Virgin Mary and is one of the most significant churches of the city. It was built in late-gothic style with three naves from 1464 to 1506 after a fire had destroyed a good part of the original building in 1423. Its Romanesque tower in the West dates back to the early 12th century and was decorated with Baroque-like parts and its current rooftop in the 19th century. The church contains a Romanesque crypt that visitors should note, with the tomb of St. Erentrudis. The entrances to the crypt are in the side-naves.
Just don′t call it "Nonnberg Abbey"
Remains of the original, Romanesque building are most notably frescos in the choir and parts of the main gate. To the side of the gate you see wooden statues on octagonal pillars: Emperor Henry II., the Virgin Mary with her son, and the founders of the Nonnberg Nunnery St. Rupert and St. Erentrudis. The altar of the church was built in 1515. It was originally in the parish church of Scheffau near Golling not far south of Salzburg. It was transferred to Nonnberg Nunnery in 1853 and depicts the Virgin Mary flanked by St. Rupert and St. Virgil. In the apsis of the choir you see a pieta that was made between 1415 and 1420.
The "Langhaus" building of the nunnery is divided into the nun′s choir ("Nonnenchor") and the peasant′s choir ("Laienchor"). Note the late-Gothic, vaulted ceiling of the Langhaus. The three side-chapels were built in 1624 and were equipped with Baroque marble altars in the 18th and 19th century. Due to the constraining and narrow grounds on which the Nonnberg Nunnery is built, the cloisters are West of the church rather than South as it is normally the case in nunneries.
If you walk to the Nonnberg Nunnery via Kapitelplatz Square and the Festungsgasse alley, you will pass a replica of the so-called "Nonnberger Hund" (Nonnberg Mountain Dog"), which was actually a lion in Romanesque style that serves as a milestone. For more Romanesque and Gothic artwork - some of the finest pieces you will find anywhere in Austria, if not Europe - go to the Nonnberg Nunnery′s museum ("Stiftsmuseum"). Another route to get there starts by the Kajetanerkirche.
More Major Sights in Salzburg
Official Website of the Nonnberg Nunnery - opens new window
General information on the Abbey - opens new window