Große Aula - University Congregation Hall
The Große Aula is the main congregation hall of Salzburg University. The facility is also known as one of the many places in Salzburg where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart performed once - as a five year old in 1761, playing a servant in a school′s play called "Sigismundus Hungariae Rex" ("Sigismund, King of Hungary"). Six years later, Mozart′s own composition, the opera "Apollo et Hyacinthos" premiered at the Große Aula.
From the beginning, the 17th century building served as a performance venue and congregation hall of the University of Salzburg, which was founded in 1628. The campus around the Kollegienkirche or Universitätskirche was built for the University; the Große Aula can be found in this campus, which we described in more detail in our article on the Old University. With the downgrading of the university in the 19th century to a small, liberal-arts-school-like facility, the Große Aula served mainly as a second class concert venue.
A New Life for the Große Aula
This changed when the university was fully extended to a proper university in the 1960ies. The campus of the Old University now served for several university institutes, the Sacellum chapel became the home of Catholic student associations and the university library moved in as well. The Große Aula was now again the spiritual heart of the institution; particularly needed since the new university did not have a central campus, but rather various facilities all over the city. The Große Aula was in a rather miserable state, though, and not sufficient for its now/old role.
In 2004, an ambitious development program started that extended to the Große Aula, the Furtwängler Park (the former botanical gardens of the university) and the entrance area of the Aula. With generous donations from private benefactors, most importantly the US-millionaire and Salzburg fan Donald Kahn, as well as public funding, the are was redeveloped.
The modern Große Aula since 2004 extends over 660 square metres and offers room for 624 chairs. It is air-conditioned, has improved acoustics, an externalised, modern foyer and staircase that extends into the Furtwängler Park, as well as modern bathrooms. All facilities are suitable for wheelchairs. The Große Aula is now one of the fancier concert venues of Salzburg, but primarily still the university congregation hall. Graduations and other important academic celebrations take place in this facility.
Hidden Treasures of Salzburg
Große Aula Congregation Hall of the Website
Map of the Große Aula of Salzburg University