The Collegiate

The Collegiate Church in San Candido, known by the public as “the cathedral”, is the most significant Romanesque sacred building in the Eastern Alps. Construction work began around 1143, when the Benedictine monastery became a college of canons. During this period, San Candido became an important place of pilgrimage and flourishing commercial centre. The chapter houses were built, and around 1280, the collegiate church was generously extended until it gained its current form. The tower was added around 1320.


The church with its three naves showcases the Romanesque striving for a clear division of the space by incorporating the transept. The dome forms the intersection with the main nave. However, the Romanesque style was not always considered worth preserving. In the 17th century the church was altered to be more Baroque; in 1874 the crypt was demolished. In 1969, on the occasion of the 1200th anniversary celebration, the church was restored to its original form of 1250. The crypt was restored, the windows reduced in size, the dome fresco exposed.

Crucifixion Group

The Romanesque sculpture, dated around 1250, shows Christ between his mother, Mary, and the Apostle John as the radiant victor over death and suffering. There are several different interpretations of the figure at Christ's feet: some see it as the head of a Mongol, representing the danger threatening from the Orient, or as Adam, standing for humanity redeemed by Christ. For others, it symbolises the devil or hell, both of which have been conquered by Christ’s death and resurrection.

The gothic atrium with the ribbed tuff vault was built in the 15th century. Above the entrance portal hangs a rib of the giant Baranci, who, according to legend, was instrumental in building the church.
The south and north portal

The south portal is decorated with a fresco and a relief. The fresco, created around 1450 by Michael Pacher, shows the abbey patrons Candidus and Korbinian as well as Emperor Otto I, who transferred his own possessions to the Freising church in San Candido in 965. The relief dates back to the middle of the 13th century. It depicts Christ with the four Apostles who are represented by their symbols.
The painting above the north portal is relatively young. It dates from the turn of the 20th century and shows the saints Candidus and Korbinian between Propst Josef Walter and three canons.

The main portal

The oil painting in the apse is by an unknown artist from the 18th century. It depicts Emperor Otto I, Duke Tassilo III and his wife Luitbirg.

Dome fresco

The dome fresco - still Romanesque in its overall design, but with early Gothic elements - shows the story of Creation. God the Creator is depicted six times: He separates the light from the darkness, creates the heaven and the heavenly bodies, separates water from land on which plants grow, creates animals and finally humans, who are expelled from the Garden of Eden after the Fall.


The crypt dates back to the beginning of construction of the church in the 12th century. It served as a prayer room and was the place of burial for provosts and deans. In the 19th century the crypt was filled in and the columns were demolished and used for the arcade in the cemetery. The crypt was restored to its original state for the 1200-year anniversary in 1969.