Right in the very center of the old part of Vienna, St. Stephens Cathedral, in german “Stephansdom”, rises towards the sky as the icon for the city. This vast and beautiful mother church of the Roman Catholiv Archdiocese, and the Archbishop of Vienna is located in the very center of the inner city, and from Stephansplatz you can reach most of the other main attractions in Vienna within 10 to 15 minutes walk.
By the middle of the 12th century, Vienna had become an important centre of German civilization in eastern Europe. Therefore it was time to build a new church that could meet the towns religious needs. In 1137 a treaty was signed, and the first parts of the chuch was born. As many other cathedrals St. Stephens has evolved over several decades to the shape and size it has today. In 1258 a great fire destroyed much og the original buildings, and a larger replacement was build over the ruins of the old church and consecrated in 1263. The signature, the south tower, was completed in 1433, and after you have climbed to 320 steps to the observatory, you have a great view over the city. Don’t get fooled to walk up to the lower open-air platform on the other side – it is the south tower you want to visit. Actually a north tower was also in the planned to match the south, but as major work on the cathedral ceased in 1511, this never became complete, you see it today as this strange tower with the outside platform. The north tower ended up around 65 meters in hight.
During the world war II, St. Stephen’s was saved from intentional destruction, and only had minor damages as fires from nearby shops was carried by wind and caused some damage. The reason why the church survived is because the Captain Kilnkicht ignored a order from the city commandant during the retreating of the german forces. Instead of firing 100 shells and leaving it in just debris and ashes, as Kilnkicht was told, he disregarded it and left.
The tallest point is the South Tower is 136 meters, and as written, you must take the walk all the way to the top, and enjoy the view over the city and the very beautiful ornately patterned, richly coloured roof, covered by 230.000 glazed fabulous tiles.
The buildings have hundreds of small detail, ornaments, sculptures and you can spend a lot of time just glazing at the church and wondering how difficult and time-consuming the build must have been back in the days.
The Cathedral had a very important role in the life of the composer Ludwig van Beethoven, as it it was here he discovered the totality of his deafness, when he saw birds flying out of the bell tower, as a result of the bells tolling, but he could not hear them at all.
Our advise is to visit the St. Stephens Cathedral on a bright sunny day, and take you time to wander around on the square Stephansplatz, as there is several small stalls selling local art and food. After this, go to the top of the south tower, and meet the guy working in the souvenir-shop at the top. Walking to work this everyday properly gets him in quite good shape. No need for a company fitness solution here.