St Stephens Cathedral Vienna

Right in the very heart of Vienna, St Stephens Cathedral rises into the sky, a Romanesque and Gothic-style masterpiece that is sure to impress. This famous Austria church is one of the most important religious buildings in Vienna, as well as one of the city's top tourist attractions. It is known in German as Stephansdom, and it graces the Stephansplatz, which is Vienna's most centrally located square. As such, it is a great place to begin walking tours of Vienna. It is because of structures like Stephansdom that Vienna's Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and there are plenty of other great attractions in the vicinity, such as Hofburg Palace. Including this Austria cathedral on the itinerary is ideal for anyone who likes history and architecture. Even if you aren't already a fan of such subjects, this church is bound to convert you.

The St Stephens Cathedral Vienna stands on the past site of two former churches, the first of which was built in the mid 1100s. Even as far back as the twelfth century, this site was the center of town. In 1258, much of this renowned Austria church was destroyed by a fire, its Romanesque style becoming more Gothic with restorations that were completed in the early fourteenth century. Further damage to the structure came in 1683, when Turks besieged the city, and again in 1945, as a result of World War II. By 1948, the St Stephens Austria cathedral was reopened, having undergone a series of additional renovations. Thankfully, many of the church's main treasures and artworks were spared during its long and sometimes violent history. Today, Stephansdom is the mother church to Vienna's Archdiocese. The Archbishop of Vienna has his official seat here.

Among the highlights of St Stephens Cathedral Vienna is its 450-foot steeple, or south tower. You can't help but notice it when taking in the Vienna skyline, and it is very much a symbol of the city. The cathedral itself stretches out to be about 350 feet long, and it has been the site of some of Austria's most historic moments, including Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's 1791 Paupers Funeral. Also, the steeple served as a main lookout point during both the Seige of Vienna (1529) and the Battle of Vienna (1683). One can imagine what these events might have been like when visiting this historic Austria cathedral. While touring St Stephens Church, you'll want to pay particular attention to the altarpiece, which was finished in 1447. It is an ornate altar, and it depicts three figures. They are the Virgin Mary, who is in the middle, and St Catherine and St Barbara. In reference to Mozart's funeral, a paupers funeral is generally a middle to lower-class ceremony that is usually paid for by the state, or with funds from the deceased's friends or estate. Mozart received one because he was a member of the artists' class, and it was paid for by Baron Gottfried van Swieten, who was an Austrian diplomat and patron of music. There were other paupers funerals held at the church that same day.

Something else you won't want to miss when at Stephansdom is Emperor Frederick III's tomb, which is made of Salzburg marble and exhibits a pinkish hue. It dates back to the seventeenth century, and if you look at the tomb closely, you'll notice the goblin-like creatures depicted on it. These goblins appear to be making an attempt to wake the deceased emperor. To cap of your St Stephens Cathedral Vienna experience, you can climb the some 340 steps that take you to the top of the south tower. From this privileged vantage point, you will be able to enjoy panoramic views of Vienna.

Guided tours of St Stephens can be enjoyed daily, though there are considerably fewer tours available on Sundays. You can also enjoy your own St Stephens Cathedral Vienna experience, touring the structure during its open hours by yourself. The south tower is open daily from 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. For a special experience, those visiting Vienna between the months of June and September can attempt to tour this fantastic Austria church at night, as guided tours are offered on Saturdays at 7 p.m.

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