The Stephansdom, the city’s famous cathedral, is a towering house
of worship wedged into a modest size
square known at the Stephansplatz.
St. Stephan’s is celebrated for its Gothic style (although the oldest
elements (the Giant Portal and Heathen Towers) are in the Romanesque style.
Its most noted architectural features are its tall South Tower (also known
as the High Tower and called the “Steffel” by the Viennese) and its
striking, colorful roof, comprised of thousands of glazed tiles arrayed with
amazing geometric precision. The south side of the roof includes a colorful
representation of the crest of the Habsburgs, while the north side bears the
emblems of the city of Vienna and the Republic of Austria.
The church was
designed as a hall church (with three halls), but it incorporates so many
unique design elements that it is difficult to categorize in any meaningful
The Stephansdom is smaller inside than one would expect and gives off
somewhat of an austere and cold feeling. Regardless, there are a
number of treasures to be examined and we provide a detailed exploration in our
Illustrated Guide to the Stephansdom.
Viewable from the Ringstrasse and located on the
southern edge of the Karlsplatz, on the edge of a park-like setting, is the
unique Karlskirche (St. Charles’s Church), which dates from 1715.
Vienna had been struck by the plague twice during a ten year period and
Emperor Charles VI vowed to build a new church dedicated to Saint Charles Borromeo,
to ward off future plagues (St. Charles was noted for his ceaseless work to help
care for the sick during a plague in Milan).
Designed by Bernhard Fisher von Erlach,
the Karlskirche combines several architectural styles (Roman, Greek, and
Oriental, along with Baroque) to produce one of the most visually stunning
churches in Vienna and perhaps Europe. The unusual exterior is complimented
by a wonderful Baroque interior. For more details on the Karlskirche and
photographs of the interior and exterior see our Illustrated Guide to the
Saint Peter's Church is a short walk from the Stephansdom.
It is easy to miss St. Peter's, as it is very small and unobtrusive. Touring it will take only a few minutes.
From the outside, St. Peter's appears very tall for its footprint, although
when you examine its dome from the inside, you will notice that the height is used
to advantage. It is likely that you will be stunned when you enter, as its
interior is a Baroque extravaganza that will be worth every
second of your time. Click here for our Illustrated Guide to the
Other Churches of InterestThere are several additional churches
that might be of interest to you. For photos of each of these churches,
simply click the hyperlinked name. Note, most of these churches have excellent
architecture details and, in several cases, stunning interiors. Some
are renowned internationally, while others are important for their role in
Franziskanerkirche at 4 Franziskanerplatz dates
from the early 17th century and is reputed to contain the oldest working church organ in Vienna.
The exterior of the church is modest and quite plain. The interior is
quite attractive, but in an understated manner.
Dominikanerkirche, at Postgasse 4, has been the site of several churches
constructed dating back to the early 13th century, each being replaced by a newer style of architecture.
The present Dominican Church dates from 17the century and is one of the earliest Baroque churches in Vienna.
Jesuitenkirche, also known as the University Church, is
located on Dr. Ignaz Seipel-Platz. Dating from the early 17th century
this church reflects the Emperor's invitation to the Jesuit Order to begin an
role in Vienna’s religious life and as member of the
University's academic faculty. The church members are quite proud that five bells,
purpose-built for the church, arrived from Innsbruck in 1631 on the 75th
anniversary of the death of St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits.
The Baroque appearance of this
church resulted from the work of the Jesuit Brother Andrea Pozzo in the
early 18th century.
Votive Church (Schottentor station (U2) on the Ring), is a neo-Gothic
spectacle, which was built in appreciation of a failed assassination attempt
of Emperor Franz Joseph. The church was sponsored by Franz Joseph's brother Ferdinand Maximillian,
who later was assassinated during his reign as Emperor of Mexico. The Votivekirche
has a very attractive interior and the building is spectacular when illuminated at night.
It may be your first sight of Vienna, if you take a taxi from the airport.
Maria am Gestade,
located on Salvatorgasse at the Passauerplatz is
known for its wonderful, thin, lace-work tower. It is one
of Vienna's oldest churches and dates from the late 14th century,
when it was constructed on a site known for several earlier churches. Maria am Gestade
was used by Napoleon's troops for storage during his invasions of Vienna and
fell out of favor and into disuse in the following period.
Restored late in the 19th century, Maria am Gestade is one of the most recognizable examples of Gothic architecture in Vienna
Assisi Church, also known
as the Memory Church, dates from the late 19th century and was
consecrated on the Golden Anniversary of Emperor Franz Joseph. It is located
on the Mexicoplatz on the banks of the Danube.
Next - explore our menu on the right hand edge of this page to find other
types of sightseeing in Vienna
Alternatively, if you want to find out about a specific attraction and know
its name, look
for it in our
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