Mariazell Basilica

Mariazell, Austria

Mariazell Basilica is the most important pilgrimage destination in Austria and one of the most visited shrines in Europe. In the church, a miraculous wooden image of the Virgin Mary is honored.

The territory around Mariazell was given to the Monastery of St. Lambrecht around 1103, and the monks built cells there in order to serve the local residents. Legends give the town's founding day as December 21, 1157, but it is first documented in 1243. A Marian altar was dedicated there in 1266.

In the 14th century, a gothic church stood at Mariazell with a 90 m high spire and an ogive portal. In 1420 and 1474, the church was destroyed by fire. The church building was later expanded and redesigned in the Baroque style by Domenico Sciassia from 1644 to 1683. To the left and right of the gothic spire a baroque tower was built, the nave was lengthened and widened, and a dome was added on the eastern side. The high altar, consecrated in 1704, was designed by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach.

The twelve side chapels each contain a baroque altar. The plaster stucco work of the organ gallery and the 1737 organ console was created by the Viennese sculptor Johann Wagner in 1740.

In front of the main entrance are two life-sized lead statues created by Balthasar Moll in 1757. To the left stands King Ludwig I of Hungary and to the right is Heinrich, Margrave of Moravia.


There are three basic legends about the founding of Mariazell and its development. The legend of the towns founding says that in 1157, the St. Lambrecht Monk Magnus was sent to the area of the current town as a minister. When his way was blocked by a rock, he set down the Marian figurine he had brought with him, whereby the rock broke apart and left Magnus' way clear. On a nearby bank, he settled down, placed the figurine on a tree trunk, and built a cell out of wood, which served as both his chapel and his living quarters.

The second legend relates how Henry Margrave of Moravia and his wife, having been healed of severe gout through the help of Our Lady of Mariazell made a pilgrimage to that place around 1200. There they built the first stone church on the site of the wooden chapel.

The third legend recounts a victorious battle of the Hungarian King Ludwig I over a numerically superior Turkish army. Out of thanks he built the gothic church and endowed it with the Schatzkammerbild ('treasury image') that he saw laid upon his chest in a dream.



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Founded: 1644-1683
Category: Religious sites in Austria

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User Reviews

Nataljya Bulatova (10 months ago)
Beautiful, gourgeouse, as always. In any season. Organ is wonderful. Chor - just speechless. You can buy everything there - candles, water, cards, icons. There is also a must to climb a little bit and see at the Basilica from the bird view
Akshaya Gawand (11 months ago)
This old church is beautiful from inside and outside both. The area surrounding it is very well maintained. There are many restaurants around. Enough parking place is available so you can simply park your vehicle and have a walk around the church.
Evi Napetschnig (11 months ago)
Impressive basilica with a great major altar and gorgeous luxury altar for Mary with the child .. it is also advisable to visit the treasury ( in the first floor) and to go to the candle cave to light a light..
Frederik Lindstroem (12 months ago)
Very impressive church. Outside as well as inside. If you search for the area in which you can light a candle, there is a special room behind the church. If you see it you will understand why it is this way. The "candle room" is completely covered with grime from the candles. All of this would be inside the beautiful church. Very well solved. Many souvenir booths right next to the church. Also many hotels and restaurants all around in walking distance. Watch out were you eat because the prices vary. Also worth mentioning is the art of ginger bread manufacturers in the city which are very delicious if you like it. All in all it was a great experience for us and we will be back for sure.
Rafael Osvald (R.O. maps) (15 months ago)
magnificent cathedral. Free entry. There was supposed to be a spring with healing water somewhere, but we didn't find it. If you are looking for the statue of the Virgin Mary, she is in the center of the church, wrapped in a white cloak.
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