Top historic sites in Vienna

St. Stephen's Cathedral

St. Stephen"s Cathedral (Stephansdom) is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vienna and the seat of the Archbishop of Vienna. The current Romanesque and Gothic form of the cathedral was largely initiated by Duke Rudolf IV (1339–1365) and stands on the ruins of two earlier churches, the first a parish church consecrated in 1147. The most important religious building in Vienna, St. Stephen" ...
Founded: 1359 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Hofburg Palace

Hofburg Palace is the former imperial palace in the centre of Vienna. Part of the palace forms the official residence and workplace of the President of Austria. Built in the 13th century and expanded in the centuries since, the palace has housed some of the most powerful people in European and Austrian history, including monarchs of the Habsburg dynasty, rulers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was the principal imperial ...
Founded: 1279 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Museumsquartier

The MuseumsQuartier Wien, one of the largest culture and art complexes in the world, is a playground for culture seekers. Spend the entire day diving into the vibrant sprawl of renowned museums, exhibition halls and art spaces. The Museumsquartier contains Baroque buildings as well as Modern architecture by the architects Laurids and Manfred Ortner. Additional highlights include Leopold Museum (one of the largest collect ...
Founded: 2001 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Kunsthistorisches Museum

The Kunsthistorisches Museum is an art museum in Vienna. Housed in its festive palatial building on Ringstraße, it is crowned with an octagonal dome. It is the largest art museum in the country. It was opened around 1891 at the same time as the Naturhistorisches Museum, by Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria-Hungary. The two museums have similar exteriors and face each other across Maria-Theresien-Platz. Both buildings we ...
Founded: 1891 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Albertina

Albertina museum houses one of the largest and most important print rooms in the world with approximately 65,000 drawings and approximately 1 million old master prints, as well as more modern graphic works, photographs and architectural drawings. Apart from the graphics collection the museum has recently acquired on permanent loan two significant collections of Impressionist and early 20th-century art, some of which will ...
Founded: 1805 | Location: Vienna, Austria

St. Peter's Church

St. Peter"s Church (Peterskirche) is thought to occupy the oldest Christian sacred site in Vienna, as a church has stood here since the second half of the 4th century. According to legend, Charlemagne founded a larger church here in 792. The mediaeval church had three altars, with an apse in the south instead of the normal eastern orientation. This unusual feature has triggered many discussions among experts, and it ...
Founded: 1701-1733 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Schönbrunn Palace

Schönbrunn Palace is a former imperial summer residence located in Vienna. The 1,441-room Baroque palace is one of the most important architectural, cultural, and historical monuments in the country. The history of the palace and its vast gardens spans over 300 years, reflecting the changing tastes, interests, and aspirations of successive Habsburg monarchs. The site of the Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn is o ...
Founded: 1740 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Minoritenkirche

The Minoritenkirche is a church built in French Gothic style in Vienna old town. The site on which the church is built was given to followers of Francis of Assisi in 1224. The foundation stone was laid by King Ottokar II of Bohemia in 1276. Duke Albrecht II later supported the building process, especially the main portal. The Gothic Ludwig choir was built between 1316 and 1328, and used as a mausoleum in the 14th and 15th ...
Founded: 1276 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Capuchin Church and Imperial Crypt

The Capuchin Church in Vienna, Austria is a church and monastery run by the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. It is most famous for containing the Imperial Crypt, the final resting place for members of the House of Habsburg. About 1599 the Capuchin brothers resided at Vienna on their way to Prague, where they had been sent by Pope Clement VIII in the course of the Counter-Reformation. The church was donated by will of Anna ...
Founded: 1599-1632 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Burgtheater

The Burgtheater (Imperial Court Theatre) opened on 14 March 1741, the creation of the Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa of Austria who wanted a theatre next to her palace. Three Mozart operas premiered there. The theatre's first building adjoined the Hofburg at Michaelerplatz, opposite St. Michael's Church. The theatre was moved to a new building at the Ringstraße in 1888 designed by Gottfried Semper and Karl Freiherr von H ...
Founded: 1888 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Karlskirche

Widely considered the most outstanding baroque church in Vienna, as well as one of the city's greatest buildings, Karlskirche is dedicated to Saint Charles Borromeo, one of the great counter-reformers of the 16th century. In 1713, one year after the last great plague epidemic, Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor, pledged to build a church for his namesake patron saint, Charles Borromeo, who was revered as a healer for plague s ...
Founded: 1716-1737 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Austrian Parliament Building

The Austrian Parliament Building in Vienna is where the two houses of the Austrian Parliament conduct their sessions. The foundation stone was laid in 1874 and the building was completed in 1883. The architect responsible for its Greek Revival style was Theophil Hansen. He designed the building holistically, aiming to have each element harmonizing with all the others. He was therefore also responsible for the interior dec ...
Founded: 1874-1883 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Musikverein

The Wiener Musikverein is a concert hall in the Innere Stadt borough of Vienna. It is the home of the Vienna Philharmonic orchestra. The 'Great Hall' (Großer Saal), due to its highly regarded acoustics, is considered one of the finest concert halls in the world, along with Berlin"s Konzerthaus, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and Boston"s Symphony Hall. With the exception of Boston Symphony Hall, none ...
Founded: 1870 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Belvedere

Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736), an accomplished general and art connoisseur, built the Belvedere palace as his summer residence. Today, the Belvedere, one of the most important baroque buildings in Austria, is located in Vienna’s third district. However at the time of its construction, the palace was located outside the city gates. Belvedere palace consists of two seperate buildings: the Upper and Lower Belveder ...
Founded: 1712 | Location: Vienna, Austria

St. Rupert's Church

St. Rupert"s Church is traditionally considered to be the oldest church in Vienna. The church is located in one of the oldest parts of the city, the section of the Roman Vindobona. According to legend, it was founded by Cunald and Gisalrich, companions of Rupert during his occupation of the seat of bishop of Salzburg. However, because Salzburg had influence over religious issues in Vienna between 796 and 829, it is m ...
Founded: c. 800 AD | Location: Vienna, Austria

Schottenstift

The Schottenstift (Scottish Abbey) is a Roman Catholic monastery founded in Vienna in 1155 when Henry II of Austria brought Irish monks to Vienna. The monks did not come directly from Ireland, but came instead from Scots Monastery in Regensburg, Germany. Henry granted the new monastery extensive privileges. Construction of the first monastery started in 1160, and the structure was consecrated in 1200. The monastery was ou ...
Founded: 1160 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Votive Church

The Votive Church (Votivkirche) is a neo-Gothic church located on the Ringstraße in Vienna. Following the attempted assassination of Emperor Franz Joseph in 1853, the Emperor"s brother Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian inaugurated a campaign to create a church to thank God for saving the Emperor"s life. Funds for construction were solicited from throughout the Empire. The church was dedicated in 1879. The Vot ...
Founded: 1879 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Vienna Central Cemetery

The Vienna Central Cemetery (Wiener Zentralfriedhof) is one of the largest cemeteries in the world, largest by number of interred in Europe and most famous cemetery in Vienna. Unlike many others, the Vienna Central Cemetery is not one that has evolved slowly with the passing of time. The decision to establish a new, big cemetery for Vienna came in 1863 when it became clear that – due to industrialisation – the city's ...
Founded: 1874 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Technisches Museum

The Technisches Museum Wien dates from the early 20th century. The decision to establish a technical museum was made in 1908, construction of the building started in 1909 and the museum was opened in 1918. The unique exhibits, from the past to the future, make the museum a showplace for exciting technological developments. Multimedia presentations illuminate the influence of technological achievements on our society, eco ...
Founded: 1918 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Klosterneuburg Abbey

Klosterneuburg Monastery was founded in 1114 by Saint Leopold III of Babenberg, the patron saint of Austria, and his second wife Agnes of Germany. In 1136, the abbey church was consecrated after 22 years of construction. The form of that original basilica has survived for nine centuries, despite many subsequent modifications and reconstructions. The abbey church, dedicated the Nativity of Mary, was later remodeled in the ...
Founded: 1114 | Location: Klosterneuburg, Austria

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Reims Cathedral

Notre-Dame de Reims (Our Lady of Reims) is the seat of the Archdiocese of Reims, where the kings of France were crowned. The cathedral replaced an older church, destroyed by fire in 1211, that was built on the site of the basilica where Clovis was baptized by Saint Remi, bishop of Reims, in AD 496. That original structure had itself been erected on the site of some Roman baths. A major tourism destination, the cathedral receives about one million visitors annually.

History

Excavations have shown that the present building occupies roughly the same site as the original cathedral, founded c. 400 under the episcopacy of St Nicaise. That church was rebuilt during the Carolingian period and further extended in the 12th century. On 19 May 1051, King Henry I of France and Anne of Kiev were married in the cathedral.

On May 6, 1210 the cathedral was damaged by fire and reconstruction started shortly after, beginning at the eastern end. Documentary records show the acquisition of land to the west of the site in 1218, suggesting the new cathedral was substantially larger than its predecessors, the lengthening of the nave presumably being an adaptation to afford room for the crowds that attended the coronations. In 1233 a long-running dispute between the cathedral chapter and the townsfolk (regarding issues of taxation and legal jurisdiction) boiled over into open revolt. Several clerics were killed or injured during the resulting violence and the entire cathedral chapter fled the city, leaving it under an interdict (effectively banning all public worship and sacraments). Work on the new cathedral was suspended for three years, only resuming in 1236 after the clergy returned to the city and the interdict was lifted following mediation by the King and the Pope. Construction then continued more slowly. The area from the crossing eastwards was in use by 1241 but the nave was not roofed until 1299 (when the French King lifted the tax on lead used for that purpose). Work on the west facade took place in several phases, which is reflected in the very different styles of some of the sculptures. The upper parts of the facade were completed in the 14th century, but apparently following 13th century designs, giving Reims an unusual unity of style.

Unusually the names of the cathedral's original architects are known. A labyrinth built into floor of the nave at the time of construction or shortly after (similar to examples at Chartres and Amiens) included the names of four master masons (Jean d'Orbais, Jean-Le-Loup, Gaucher de Reims and Bernard de Soissons) and the number of years they worked there, though art historians still disagree over who was responsible for which parts of the building. The labyrinth itself was destroyed in 1779 but its details and inscriptions are known from 18th century drawings. The clear association here between a labyrinth and master masons adds weight to the argument that such patterns were an allusion to the emerging status of the architect (through their association with the mythical artificer Daedalus, who built the Labyrinth of King Minos). The cathedral also contains further evidence of the rising status of the architect in the tomb of Hugues Libergier (d. 1268, architect of the now-destroyed Reims church of St-Nicaise). Not only is he given the honor of an engraved slab; he is shown holding a miniature model of his church (an honor formerly reserved for noble donors) and wearing the academic garb befitting an intellectual.

The towers, 81 m tall, were originally designed to rise 120m. The south tower holds just two great bells; one of them, named “Charlotte” by Charles, Cardinal of Lorraine in 1570, weighs more than 10,000 kg.

During the Hundred Years' War the cathedral was under siege by the English from 1359 to 1360. After it fell the English held Reims and the Cathedral until 1429 when it was liberated by Joan of Arc which allowed the Dauphin Charles to be crowned king on 17 July 1429.

In 1875 the French National Assembly voted £80,000 for repairs of the façade and balustrades. The façade is the finest portion of the building, and one of the great masterpieces of the Middle Ages.

German shellfire during the opening engagements of the First World War on 20 September 1914 burned, damaged and destroyed important parts of the cathedral. Scaffolding around the north tower caught fire, spreading the blaze to all parts of the carpentry superstructure. The lead of the roofs melted and poured through the stone gargoyles, destroying in turn the bishop's palace. Images of the cathedral in ruins were used during the war as propaganda images by the French against the Germans and their deliberate destruction of buildings rich in national and cultural heritage. Restoration work began in 1919, under the direction of Henri Deneux, a native of Reims and chief architect of the Monuments Historiques; the cathedral was fully reopened in 1938, thanks in part to financial support from the Rockefellers, but work has been steadily going on since.

Exterior

The three portals are laden with statues and statuettes; among European cathedrals, only Chartres has more sculpted figures. The central portal, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, is surmounted by a rose window framed in an arch itself decorated with statuary, in place of the usual sculptured tympanum. The 'gallery of the kings' above shows the baptism of Clovis in the centre flanked by statues of his successors.

The facades of the transepts are also decorated with sculptures. That on the North has statues of bishops of Reims, a representation of the Last Judgment and a figure of Jesus (le Beau Dieu), while that on the south side has a modern rose window with the prophets and apostles. Fire destroyed the roof and the spires in 1481: of the four towers that flanked the transepts, nothing remains above the height of the roof. Above the choir rises an elegant lead-covered timber bell tower that is 18 m tall, reconstructed in the 15th century and in the 1920s.

Interior

The interior comprises a nave with aisles, transepts with aisles, a choir with double aisles, and an apse with ambulatory and radiating chapels. It has interesting stained glass ranging from the 13th to the 20th century. The rose window over the main portal and the gallery beneath are of rare magnificence.

The cathedral possesses fine tapestries. Of these the most important series is that presented by Robert de Lenoncourt, archbishop under François I (1515-1547), representing the life of the Virgin. They are now to be seen in the former bishop's palace, the Palace of Tau. The north transept contains a fine organ in a flamboyant Gothic case. The choir clock is ornamented with curious mechanical figures. Marc Chagall designed the stained glass installed in 1974 in the axis of the apse.

The treasury, kept in the Palace of Tau, includes many precious objects, among which is the Sainte Ampoule, or holy flask, the successor of the ancient one that contained the oil with which French kings were anointed, which was broken during the French Revolution, a fragment of which the present Ampoule contains.

Notre-Dame de Reims cathedral, the former Abbey of Saint-Remi, and the Palace of Tau were added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1991.