St. Stephen’s Cathedral

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St. Stephen’s Cathedral is the Catholic church made in the Gothic style that is located in the center of Vienne. It is the main sacred place and symbol not only of the capital of Austria but the whole country as well. It is this cathedral that gracefully represents the sights of Austria.

The Historical Facts

The church was laid at the beginning of the 12th century by the Bishop of Passau and blessed in 1147. Firstly, the cathedral was created in the Romanesque style but after some time the towers were redesigned in the spirit of Gothic. However, it took several decades to complete the building. It was re-built and renewed. Initially, the cathedral looked like a three-aisled basilica with a bulge transept, which separated a narrow altar zone from the main part of the building.

In 1258, there was a big fire. Because of it, St. Stephen’s Cathedral actually had to be rebuilt. Only the west façade with a monumental portal known as the Giant’s Door remained from the original construction. Other two portals, that were built later, are known as the Bishop’s Door (the northern one) and the Singer Door (the southern one).

The architecture of the St. Stephen's Cathedral
St. Stephen's Cathedral © Maryna Stamatova / Shutterstock

The Cathedral’s Relics

The church has a close relationship with the life of the Viennese and the former Austria-Hungarian Empire. It explains the origin of the relics and the memorable events, which were immortalized here:

  • The tombs of 72 members of the imperial family Habsburg (the tombs are symbolic as only the inner organs of the deceased were buried here).
  • A shrine of the Austrian national hero Eugene of Savoy.
  • A tomb-chest of Emperor Frederick III, which is made of red marble.
  • A stand of the 1500 year, from which the priests were preaching.
  • A miraculous icon of Pötscher Madonna (1676) deserves a special attention. According to a legend, during the war with Turks (1697), the tears were running down from Madonna’s eyes for two weeks.
  • The Gothic Wiener Neustadt Altar was created in 1447.
  • The funeral services of the last Austria-Hungary Emperor Franz Joseph and the great Mozart were held within the walls of the cathedral.

Even if all the above-described things are of little interest to you, a walk to the Cathedral of St. Stephen is worth at least for the sake of the beautiful panoramas of glorious Vienna. They offer a unique view from the observation platform of the South Tower. The main thing is to master 343 stairs... And also be sure to visit the Schönbrunn Palace - the residence of the emperors from the Habsburg dynasty.

The interior of the St. Stephen's Cathedral
St. Stephen's Cathedral © Mitzo / Shutterstock

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