St. Stephen's Cathedral welcomes more than one million tourists every year, making it the most important Gothic building in the city, representing eight centuries of architectural history. It is the main Roman Catholic Church in Vienna and the seat of the city's archbishop.
Vienna's Cathedral has grown gradually over time, with large sections rebuilt and various towers, extensions, and decorations added over the centuries. Its original construction began in 1137, but was halted by a major fire and damage during World War II.
The reconstruction of St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, in just seven years, with major financial support from the federal states and numerous donation campaigns, proved to be a tremendous community effort involving the whole of Austria to restore this ancient symbol of the country.
Here is a short list of what to see in Vienna Cathedral.
The towers of Vienna Cathedral
The tallest of these is the South Tower, also known as Stefflby the Viennese, which with its spire is 136.4 metres high. It has 343 steps up to the Watchtower, but it is worth it for the spectacular views of the city.
In the North Tower of the Cathedral is the Pummerin Bell, which rings only on special occasions. Legend has it that Beethoven's deafness first became apparent to him when he noticed birds flying away from the tower, but he could not hear the sound of the Pummerin ringing.
The catacombs and the cathedral treasury
The catacombsare only accessible as part of a guided tour and include the bones of around 10,000 Viennese citizens stacked in tiers (although this part is not open to the public).
Today, the main attraction is the Ducal Vault, which Rudolf IV built for the Habsburgs in 1363. Worth seeing is also the cathedral's treasury, which includes relics decorated with gold and precious stones, liturgical texts and books, as well as vestments.
The Tirna Chapel is the burial place of Prince Eugene, the conqueror of the Turks.
Fascinating is the beard of Christ, which is made of real human hair and, according to legend, continues to grow.
Another interesting place is the Catherine Chapelwith its marble font from 1481, and the reliefs in the 14-sided basin depicting Christ, John the Baptist, and the Twelve Apostles, while on its pedestal are the Four Evangelists.
The Eligius Chapel is also worth a visit to see yourself surrounded by its important 14th-century statues.
How to get to Vienna Cathedral
- On foot: the cathedral is within a walking distance of the centre of Vienna and its main tourist attractions.
- By bus: via routes 1A, 2A, or 3A.
- By U-Bahn (underground): the nearest underground station is Stephansplatz.
- By train: Vienna is well served by all major rail routes.
Vienna Cathedral opening hours
- Monday to Saturday, 6:00 am - 10:00 pm
- Sundays and public holidays, 07:00 h to 22:00 h
Vienna Cathedraland its secrets are waiting to show you the splendour of one of the most beautiful churches in Europe. If you travel to Vienna, do not miss this amazing place, it is hard to forget.