St. Stephen's Cathedral

Vienna, Austria

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's Cathedral has borne witness to many important events in Habsburg and Austrian history and has, with its multi-coloured tile roof, become one of the city's most recognizable symbols.

The oldest remaining parts of St. Stephen’s date back to the 13th century when Vienna was growing in importance and significantly expanding its city limits. Duke Rudolph IV of Habsburg, in 1359, laid the cornerstone of the Gothic nave with its two aisles. From then on, it took over two hundred years for the building to reach its present shape: The most prominent feature of the Cathedral is the Gothic South Tower, which was completed in 1433. The unfinished North Tower was capped with a makeshift Renaissance spire in 1579. During the 18th century, the cathedral was decorated with Baroque altarpieces - the panel of the main altar shows the stoning of its namesake St. Stephen, the first martyr of Christendom.

Next to the North Tower elevator is the entrance to the catacombs underneath the cathedral. The underground burial place contains the mausoleum of the bishops, the tombs of Duke Rudolph the Founder and other members of the Habsburg family, and 56 urns with the intestines of the Habsburgs buried between 1650 and the 19th century in the Imperial Burial Vault.

St. Stephen’s Cathedral houses a wealth of art treasures, some of which can only be seen on a guided tour, such as a red-marble sepulcher sculpted from 1467 to 1513, the pulpit from 1514-15, a Gothic winged altar from 1447 and the tomb of Prince Eugene of Savoy, dating from 1754. In the North Tower, Austria's largest bell, known as the Boomer Bell (Pummerin), has found its home and can be reached via an express elevator that takes you to the observation platform.

The magnificent South Tower, which alone took 65 years to build, is to this day the highest point in the skyline of Vienna’s inner city. Climb the 343 steps of the tight spiral staircase that leads up to the watchman's lookout 246 feet above street level. The lookout was once used as a fire warden's station and observation point for the defense of the then-walled city. The climb is well worth it: Once at the top, you’ll enjoy the finest view over the Old Town in all of Vienna.

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Details

Founded: 1359
Category: Religious sites in Austria

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Joseph Ryder (8 months ago)
This was an incredibly interesting and beautiful place to visit. There are several options for tickets, we chose the € 20 all inclusive per person one. This allows a visit to the Cathedral itself plus both the North and South towers. One has an elevator and the other over 300 steps.Even though we could access both, we went with the elevator. The view was fantastic, both of the city and the rest of the Cathedral. Then we had a guided tour of the crypt, absolutely brilliant and a great tour guide. The tour was in German and English and highly worth taking. I would highly recommend this tour and if at all possible, try to be there for 10 am at least before the crowd.This part of Vienna is incredibly busy with tourists.. Also tickets are not available online and must be purchased in person in the Cathedral. This is cash only, as is the gift shop.
Rizwan Jamil (8 months ago)
Amazing architecture! One of the most beautiful cathedrals I’ve ever been to in Vienna. You won’t regret it.
Alfred Aquino (8 months ago)
Such a stunning piece of architecture! One of the most beautiful cathedrals I’ve ever been to in Europe. The detailed work here is marvellous. I’d say it’s a must visit if you’re in Vienna. You won’t regret it.
Khadij Brz (9 months ago)
St. Stephen's Cathedral is an architectural masterpiece that left me in awe. The intricate details of its Gothic design, including the stunning stained glass windows and towering spires, are truly captivating. The interior is equally impressive, with its majestic altar and historical artifacts. Climbing the South Tower was a highlight, offering breathtaking panoramic views of Vienna. A must-visit for history enthusiasts and architecture lovers!
Alice Marchuk (9 months ago)
We loved St. Stephen’s! We decided to buy tickets to the catacomb tour and the South Tower and we felt that we saw plenty. I think we spent about 10€ per person total to see both. We loved the catacombs tour. Our guide was very enthusiastic and gave us a lot of information about the catacombs. It was very in depth and in both German and English. You pay at the end of the tour in cash (they have change). The south tower was quite a trek - not for the faint of heart or claustrophobic. The stairs are very narrow and you end up walking past people going the opposite way. It gets very hot as well, so I’m not sure I’d recommend going on a hot day. We went on a rainy day and it was cooking, but thankfully the windows at the watch tower were open with a nice breeze to cool down at. You pay for tickets at the entrance of the South Tower.
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