Vienna

St Stephen’s Cathedral

The magnificent St Stephen's Cathedral is not only one of the most beautiful churches in Vienna: it is a symbol of the city itself. Not to be missed.

One of Vienna’s iconic monuments is the magnificent St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephansdom in German) on the central Stephansplatz square: this Gothic masterpiece whose origins date back to the 11th century represents the geographical and emotional heart of the Austrian capital.

The Vienna Cathedral, affectionately called Steffl by the Viennese, is not only an important place of worship or a church with magnificent architecture that fears no comparison with the most famous cathedrals in other European capitals: it is a true national emblem and a symbol of Austrian identity.

For the tourist, it is a must-see attraction, but then again, it is really hard not to notice it, thanks to its prominent spires and towers soaring into the Vienna sky.

If that’s not enough, you can easily recognise the cathedral by its roof: its colourful glazed tiles form the solemn images of the two-headed eagle, symbol of the Habsburg empire, the coat of arms of the city of Vienna and that of Austria.

Visit to St Stephen’s Cathedral

Before entering St Stephen’s Cathedral, take some time to admire its impressive façade and exterior walls, but don’t let the Gothic frescoes, tombstones, skulls and bones scare you away!

The best view of the colourful roof of the cathedral is from the north-eastern side of the square, from where you can take outstanding photographs.

Viewing the church from the outside does not prepare you for the wealth of artwork inside: don’t miss the aforementioned Pilgram pulpit and the Baroque altar.

The cathedral towers

The highlight of St Stephen’s Cathedral is the magnificent south tower, one of the most beautiful vantage points in Vienna. In fact, it is possible to climb to the top of the tower to get a closer look at the cathedral roof and admire a magnificent view of the Innere Stadt, the historical centre of the Austrian capital.

If you don’t want to make the effort of climbing more than 300 steps, you can take the lift to the top of the north tower, which is lower than the south tower: it was planned as a twin tower, but lack of funds and a change in aesthetic tastes at the time changed its final appearance.

Inside is the mammoth Pummerin bell, one of the largest bells in Europe.

Catacombs

Not far from the lift in the north tower is the entrance to the cathedral catacombs, where Rudolf IV, ‘the Founder’, is buried; you can also see a burial monument with the remains of plague victims and, if you really wish, rows of urns with the internal organs of Habsburg nobles.

St. Stephen’s Cathedral in the Vienna Skyline© Österreich Werbung, Photo: Popp-Hackner

Curiosity: St. Stephen’s Cathedral in numbers

Admission to St. Stephen’s Cathedral

Admission to St. Stephen’s Cathedral is free of charge, but only allows a visit to the main nave. The towers, catacombs, cathedral treasury and the lift to the Pummerin bell can only be visited with a guided tour for a fee.

You can choose a combined ticket giving access to the church, catacombs, towers and treasury (you will have to buy a separate ticket for the lift) or individual tickets for each area. Evening tours departing at 7pm are also available during the summer months.

Concerts at St Stephen’s Cathedral

Enjoy an elegant concert in Vienna in one of the most beautiful neoclassical buildings in the Austrian capital. Marvel at the treasures of classical music in St Stephen’s Cathedral, where Mozart and Haydn once played.

History of the Cathedral

On the site where we can see St. Stephen’s Cathedral today, a Romanesque-style church existed as early as the 11th century.

All that remains of that early construction are the Pagan Towers (Heidentürme), so called because they were built on the site of a former pagan temple, and the Giant’s Gate (Riesentor), which today forms the main entrance on the west side of the Cathedral.

In 1359, Duke Rudolf IV of Habsburg initiated the work that would transform the church into a splendid Gothic cathedral: he himself laid the foundation stone, thus earning himself the nickname ‘Founder’.

Some distinctive elements of the cathedral were added later: the impressive south tower, visible almost from anywhere in the city, dates back to 1433; the finely inlaid pulpit by the artist Anton Pilgram is from 1515; the north tower was completed in 1579; the Pummerin bell was not added until 1952.

In 1945, a fire severely damaged the cathedral, but it was rebuilt in a record time of three years thanks to generous donations from all over Austria.

Today, the cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Vienna and can be visited when there are no religious ceremonies or state occasions.

Useful information

Address

Stephansplatz 3, 1010 Wien, Austria

Contacts

TEL: +43 1 515523530

Transports

Metro stops

  • Stephansplatz (166 mt)

Bus stops

  • HOP ON HOP OFF Station Vienna Sightseeing (726 mt)

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