The abbey and monastery in the St Peter’s district of Salzburg were founded in the eighth century by St Rupert and the rest of the city gradually developed around it. The cemetery there will be familiar to film viewers as the place where the Von Trapp family hid from the Nazis in The Sound of Music. The district lies in the heart of Salzburg’s old town and is the oldest Christian graveyard in the city. A cemetery makes an unusual tourist attraction, but this small burial ground is very picturesque and obviously well cared for, with the graves well tended and adorned with flowers and ornaments.
Famous People Buried In St Peter’s Cemetery
Prior to the fifteenth century only priests and monks were buried at St Peter’s, but it was then opened to the public. There are a number of family crypts contained within the cemetery and several belong to notable families from the city and include several names known all over the world.
Maria Anna Mozart, known as Nannerl. She was the older sister of the famous composer and was a musician herself. In her later years she worked as a music teacher in the city and died in 1829.
Michael Haydn was a composer and the younger brother of Joseph Haydn. His was less famous than his brother though Joseph thought Michael’s work was superior to his own. He died in 1806 and is buried in the same crypt as Nannerl Mozart.
Santino Solari, the Swiss-born architect responsible for Salzburg Cathedral and Schloss Hellbrunn which also appeared in The Sound of Music, died in 1646.
Sigmund Haffner was a rich merchant who was the benefactor of many charitable causes and one of Mozart’s patrons. He earned the right to mint his own coins which were in circulation for some time and served as mayor of Salzburg. He died in 1772.
St Peter’s Catacombs
Sited at the foot of the Monchsberg hill, steep steps are carved into the cliff face above the church which lead to several rooms containing altars and faded murals. Small windows in the rooms provide excellent views of the city. Visitors can access these catacombs for a small fee. Hand carved from the rock, the catacombs are believed to date from 215 AD and are Christian in origin, having served as an early church.
The cemetery is relatively small and is tranquil in spite of its city centre location. It is an important part of the city’s history and is therefore a must-see for any tourist.