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St. Stephen's Cathedral (Stephansdom) is located at Stephansplatz and is the most important Catholic Church in Vienna. It has a multi-colored tile roof with a diamond pattern and two tall towers which are the most recognizable symbols of the city. It is the Number 1 tourist attraction of Vienna.
The church started as a Romanesque church that was consecrated in 1147 and was initiated by Rudolf IV. There was a major fire in 1258 that destroyed the church, so a Gothic church was started in the early 14th century as a replacement. There was a Turkish siege of the city in 1683 that caused much damage to the church. At the end of the Second World War, the roof was heavily damaged. The church was reopened in 1948 and the roof was completely repaired in 1950 with ceramic tiles donated by the people of Vienna.
The church is 106 m long and there is a 135m high tower on the north side. There is an elevator that goes up the tower. The tower contains the Pummerin Bell, one of the largest bells in the world and cast from a cannon that was captured from the Turks in 1683. The south tower is 136 m high and is called Little Stephen. Hans Prachatitz completed it in 1433.
Anton Pilgrim was a master stonecarver who created the beautiful pulpit in the early 16th century. The pulpit is in the middle of the nave and shows the images of four church fathers, namely Ambrose, Jerome, Gregory and Autustine. The artist made his self-portrait under the stairs. There is a Wiener Neustadt altarpiece in the left chapel of the choir. This was finished in 1447 and is gilded. It shows the Virgin Mary between St. Barbara and St. Catherine.
When you are at St. Stephens, take the tour of the catacombs underneath the church. It's not expensive and tours leave regularly. There is a little waiting area inside the church and reservations are not needed. Definitely something memorable, macabre and beyond the usual tour of a church!
You can also explore in the other direction: up! For as little as 7EUR you can climb one of the Stephansdom towers, from where the very beautiful view of the old city opens.