St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna: the main in Austria
The main cathedral of the Catholic Church of Austria is located in the heart of Vienna. This is the center of the religion of the country, but it is interesting not only this. Also here are the catacombs, in which the representatives of the Habsburg dynasty were buried, then Eugene of Savoy and the famous emperor Frederick III were buried. St. Stephen's Cathedral is depicted on an Austrian coin of 10 euro cents and according to popular belief is the main attraction of Vienna.
Now the cathedral is surrounded by buildings, and we were not able to fully photograph it. As an introductory photo to our article, we had to take photos of miniatures from the park Minimundus in Klagenfurt . Of course, you will see the original photo in our review.
St. Stephen's Cathedral was rebuilt several times, and its present appearance was acquired only in the 15th century, when a new church was built around the old church building, the cathedral was executed in the Gothic style.
In 1945, during the storming of Vienna by Soviet troops, the Nazis wanted to blow up the building, but the order was not executed, Captain Gerhard Klinkicht did not begin to blow up the building, despite the direct order of his boss.
The church still suffered, not as a result of hostilities, but in a fire that spread to the building from neighboring streets.
The temple is still under reconstruction, the first renovation was completed in 1960, but the damage was deeper than it seemed at first glance.
The photo below is made in 2007 and on it you see scaffolding around the main (southern) tower. At the time of writing the article (2014), the restoration of the tower was already completed, and the scaffolding was removed, but still there are a lot of work left in other parts of the cathedral.
St. Stephen's Cathedral is worth seeing only for the unforgettable impression that it produces. The south tower has a height of 136 meters, for comparison, the tall "Victory Monument" in Moscow on the mountain of worship is slightly higher, 142 meters in height. The height of the roof is 60 meters, which is equivalent to a 20-storey house. The main tower can be seen almost from every place in the city, but do not confuse it with the two towers of the Votivkirche church or with the Gothic tower of the city hall of Vienna .
Imagine the impression that the building made on the inhabitants of Vienna in the Middle Ages, we think, at the sight of such a grandiose structure, any doubts about the existence of God and the truth of the way of the Catholic Church in ordinary people have disappeared.
In addition to the large (southern) tower, the cathedral has a northern one, which you will not find on our photos, it rarely gets into the lenses of the camera of travelers. It was never completed, its height is 69 meters. That's why it is not visible on most photos, it is covered from our eyes by the roof of the main building.
It is on the north tower that the main bell of the country is located, it is called "Pummerin". More precisely, it is called "New Pummerin", as it was cast from the fragments of the previous bell, which was called "Old Pummerin" and was badly damaged during the 1945 fire. The bell rings only on holidays and special occasions, to hear his battle - a great luck for the tourist.
St. Stephen's Cathedral is 198 meters long and 62 meters wide, although from the inside it seems much smaller. This is not surprising, because the church has several walls built in different eras, and the prayer hall occupies less than half the building in length.
Every 30 minutes in the cathedral, excursions begin in German and one excursion per day is conducted in English, 10-30 in the morning from Monday to Saturday. Excursions are not free, the price is 5 euro for an adult tourist and 2 euro for a child (up to 14 years). Attention! Prices listed on our website may lose relevance and change in the big party at the time of your visit to Austria. By the standards of Austria, the prices are low , which surprised us.
In the St. Stephen's Cathedral services are being carried out now, it is an active religious institution. We just got inside the moment the service started. Of course, tourists were not expelled, but we did not notice the special joy of the parishioners from our presence.
In order not to disturb believers, there is a recommended time for visiting the temple by travelers. From 9-00 to 11-30 and from 13-00 to 16-40 on weekdays and from 13-00 to 16-30 on weekends, you definitely will not get here at the time of church service.
The first interesting place inside is the southern tower, it has an excellent view of the city, but, as you know, there are no elevators there. About 120 meters up you will have to climb the stairs. Is it worth paying 4 euro (a separate fee) and climbing the height of a 40-storey building for this species, it's up to you.
The second part of the tour is the northern (small) tower of St. Stephen's Cathedral. To be honest, there is really nothing to see there, except for the aforementioned bell weighing 20.5 tons. Considering that the Tsar Bell in Moscow is 10 times larger, "New Pummerin" did not make a big impression on us. On both towers it is worth to look, perhaps, statues of gargoyles and other attributes of Gothic architecture. It's worth the pleasure of another 5 euro.
In the main hall is worth looking at the most beautiful iconostasis in Europe. During the Great Patriotic War, he did not suffer at all, as he had been laid in advance with a brick. Thanks to this, we can see it in its original form.
Inside is one very interesting chair, it looks like a pillar decorated with carvings depicting saints, frogs and lizards. On this pedestal there used to be speakers speaking during the reading of speeches. Many tourists simply do not understand what it is and why it was used, that's why we gave the chair some attention in our review.
The museum in the cathedral can be visited by paying an additional 4 euros. Here you can see some sacred relics. The problem is to recognize them, because there are no inscriptions in Russian here. Those who know English or French will be helped by an audio guide.
Perhaps the most interesting place in the cathedral is the catacombs. Paying another 5 euros, you can go down and see the burial. Perhaps you noticed that for "every sneeze" in the cathedral you need to pay separately, this is a common practice for attractions in Austria. If you decide to see here all the interesting places, then we recommend buying a full ticket. It costs 16 euros for an adult and 3 euros for a child (up to 14 years), so you get the opportunity to go anywhere inside the cathedral.
The catacombs were a huge cemetery. In the 18th century, cemeteries in Vienna were already crowded, and a ban on new graves was imposed on them. Poor citizens began to be buried outside the city, and for wealthy citizens began to arrange underground burial. In the catacombs under the Cathedral of St. Stephen rest more than 10 000 crowns.
Some of the most famous Austrians are buried not underground, but in the temple itself. In the photo on the left you see the grave of the most famous commander of Austria, Eugene of Savoy. We will not talk about it in detail, since we did it in an article about his Belvedere Palace .
The second important historical person, the grave of which can be found in the temple is the emperor Frederick III of the Habsburg dynasty. He was the last emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, who was crowned in Rome, after which any hopes for power in Italy for the Habsburgs were lost.
In a separate room, 72 members of the Habsburg family were buried. From the point of view of the originality of the tradition of burial, members of this monarchical family "outstripped" even the Egyptian pharaohs.
Of the bodies of the pharaohs, too, organs were removed and placed in separate urns, but all parts of the bodies of the rulers of Egypt were buried in one tomb. The Habsburgs went further, their bodies were buried in various places. St. Stephen's Cathedral is a traditional burial place for the internal organs of members of the monarch's family. Hearts and bodies (without organs) were buried in other monasteries and churches in Austria.
The cathedral is the traditional burial place of the highest hierarchs of the Austrian church, their bodies still find rest in the cathedral, the last one there was buried the former Archbishop of Vienna Franz Koenig, it happened in 2004.
You can get to the cathedral by metro in Vienna . Leave at the station Stefansplatz at the intersection of the 1st (red) or 3rd (orange) lines. St. Stephen's Cathedral you will not miss.
On this we finish our story about the main church in Austria, read our other articles about the alpine country ( links below ).
Read about Austria on our website
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