Located in Passau, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, is a baroque church dating back to 1688 and dedicated to Saint Stephen, Christianity’s first martyr.
The first church was built in 730 AD on the site of the current cathedral. The current cathedral is an impressive baroque structure dominating the center of Passau 328 ft. in length and was constructed from 1668 to 1693 after a fire in 1662 destroyed the previous church. That fire destroyed the entire city and seemed to have left the church standing. In thanks the city held a celebration and when firing cannons in salute the vibrations collapsed all but one exterior wall.
Passau Cathedral is home to the largest organ outside of the United States and the largest cathedral organ in the world. The organ currently has 17,774 pipes and 233 stops, all of which can be played with a five section general console in the gallery. Some portions of the organ can be controlled by a mechanical and electrical action additional console, for a total of six consoles. There are very popular daily concerts conducted in the cathedral with some by notable guest musicians. While not a concert Arnold Schwarzenegger was recently allowed to play the organ and upon finishing he is reported to have exclaimed “I’ll be back.”
The cathedral also has eight large bells in the bell rooms in the north and south towers with the heaviest, weighing over eight tons.