The crypt has existed in its current form since the cathedral was reopened in 1959. Before that, there were vaults in today’s lower church which could only be accessed through the floor of the cathedral (like in the side chapels). The vaults served as burial grounds for Salzburg archbishops. A bomb during the Second World War, which caused the dome to collapse, destroyed these vaults and the entire floor under the dome. During clean-up efforts, numerous foundations and wall fragments of buildings that existed prior to the current baroque cathedral were found. It was decided to install a cement ceiling and thus create an accessible crypt.
The crypt’s central purpose was to be a place of burial for deceased Salzburg archbishops. Since 1619 - the year Prince Bishop Markus Sittikus of Hohenems, who had the cathedral built, died - virtually all deceased Salzburg (prince) archbishops have been buried in the crypt or in the previous vaults.
The crypt is divided into several rooms. One was made into a chapel in which church services can take place. In the 1990s, the steps to the lower church were moved to their current location. This made it possible to create an adoration chapel in which worshipers can perform Eucharist adoration.
During excavations on Residenzplatz from 1956-1958, the choir crypt of the late Romanesque cathedral, which was demolished in 1598, was unearthed. It had been forgotten over the years. There had long been thoughts of connecting the crypt from the previous cathedral with the current one. In 2009, the two crypts were connected by a tunnel through the outside foundation of the baroque cathedral.
The cathedral crypt is open to visitors Monday to Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and on Sundays and religious holidays from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
The crypt is closed during church service and cathedral concerts. Furthermore, the crypt may be closed without prior announcement for organisational or technical reasons.