Wien, part V – Stephansdom

With its 136m tall tower, Stephansdom – St. Stephen`s Cathedral is dominant figure in the very center of 1st district of Vienna. Founded in 1137. it was dedicated to St. Stephen in 1147. The first structure was completed in 1160, but major expansion and reconstruction lasted until beginning of 16th century. The cathedral has 23 bells and one story says that Ludwig van Beethoven discovered he became deaf after seein birds flying off the bell tower because of bell tolling – but he could not hear them :eyes: The main entrance to a cathedral is called Giant's Door (Riesentor) because of the bone of a mastodon that once hung over it :left:
I have found this photo on the web, a tower is currently under another reconstruction, covered from half to the top:

There are 18 altars in the church and many more in chapels. The annoying thing is that visitors have free access only to about half of the ground floor inside, but if you want to come closer to, for instance, the High Altar or the Wiener NeustΓ€dt Altar (the two famous ones) there is a counter desk with printed tourist guides and prices for various parts. I refused to pay 10 eur just to be able to approach about 10-15 more meters – instead I used my height to make more photographs over the heads of the tourists :happy: Here is the view to a High Altar:

One of the most interesting part of history of cathedral is connected to a catacombs and cripts under it. From Roman times, church was surrounded with a cemetary with bodies of both commoners and notables. Due to outbreak of bubonic pleague in 1735, eight cemeteries around church were closed and bones within them were moved to the catacombs below the church. Burials directly in the catacombs occurred until 1783, when a new law forbade most burials within the city. The remains of over 11,000 persons are in the catacombs and in some parts you can see bones packed together like firewood, divided from sculls; on the other parts bones were just dropped in holes. With low air temperatures, you can`t smell anything but story says that one of the main reasons for forbiding burials in catacombs were exactly that one – with so many bodies, especially during pleague outbreak, it was impossible not to feel it :yuck: Photographing was not allowed there; on the second thought I don`t think I will do it anyway – it just don`t feel right.
Inside the Ducal crypt there are 78 bronze containers with the bodies, hearts, or viscera of 72 members of the Habsburg dynasty. If you are interested, a complete list of persons burried there you can find following this link.

In addition to this post, I uploaded a photographs of Karlskirche and a beautiful Russian orthodox church of St. Nicolas in my Vienna photo album.

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39 Responses to Wien, part V – Stephansdom

  1. Cois says:

    That's alot of dead people.. :eyes: the cathedral looks 😎

  2. Dacotah says:

    Beautiful photos, great post. πŸ™‚

  3. ricewood says:

    Sweet Lord, that's one fantastic cathedral.

  4. CedarFox says:

    Interesting post :up:

  5. attilasoul says:

    Fantastic building, and great story behind it too. I got to visit Vienna one day! :up:

    instead I used my height to make more photographs over the heads of the tourists

    I often wish I was just a little bit taller, for the same reason. Especially male photographers tend to forget to look back to see if they block the view. Last time I experienced it was at the Copenhagen Pride Parade. :irked: (Link to it here] πŸ™‚

  6. gdare says:

    Carol – thank you :DCois – when I saw it first time in 1990. I was astonished. There are a lot of small narrow streets that block your view until I stepped on Stephansplatz; then I saw it in all of its beauty :DAlan – you should visit Vienna one day :yes:Eric – thank you :)Tilla – you should visit Vienna, I am sure you would make a lot of good photos there; there were few more churches that I visited, one of them is particularly beautiful, Votivkirche, a church that emperor Franz Joseph made in gratitude for surviving assassination attempt in 1853. I will put some photos of it later in my Vienna photo album πŸ™‚

  7. attilasoul says:

    Maybe I will bring a little box I can stand on, so I don't have to pay 10 Eur either to take photographs. πŸ’‘

  8. LorenzoCelsi says:

    You know here in Milano, Italy there are 3 main buildings connected to the black plague, which BTW arrived for the first time around 1350 and lasted till around 1600 with epidemies every 30-50 years. I've read a book that says the black plague became less infective because both the natural selection of resistant people as survivors and the spread of another disease, the TBC, which caused people to get resistant to both the infections.1. the cathedral – 1386 (the ancient part resembles the one in Vienna actually, while the front is modern and was added on a temporary front when Napoleon came here, so it looks neoclassic). Usually they say the cathedral is still worked on because it was never completed. the hospital – 1456, one of the most ancient in Europe. It was a squared court with a two floors building all around and other two buildings crossing, with a chapel in the center. Today there is an university inside that building. the "lazzaretto" – around 1460 that was a sort of hospital dedicated to the black plague. It was planned with the most advanced technologies of the time but basically the idea was to keep the sick people inside until they were either dead or they overcame the disease.

  9. Dacotah says:

    You are welcome Darko. πŸ˜€

  10. MizzMartinez says:

    I've been here! :happy:

  11. MizzMartinez says:

    I loved it. Well not exactly, but I was definitely impressed by the church and its structure! πŸ™‚

  12. Spaggyj says:

    Ok, it's settled. I gotta go there! That cathedral is AMAZING! :eyes: And the catacombs sound like quite an experience – I agree that photos would not be respectful.

  13. gdare says:

    Lorenzo – when I come to Milan, I will plan to visit all these places you mentioned; thanks for the links :)MizzM – really? how did you liked it?

  14. gdare says:

    Have you been in Prague? St. Vitus`s cathedral is maybe bigger than Stephansdom and beautiful as well. Also, I have been in Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, but this is quite different sory πŸ˜€

  15. gdare says:

    Kimmie – thank you; I think you would like it :yes: btw, I like your new awatar πŸ˜€

  16. LorenzoCelsi says:

    Unfortunately there isn't much here for tourists. It is just a business city and personally I find it ugly. Ancient remains are few and hidden. But you can visit at least the cathedral. There is also the castle but it is fake, built on the ruins of the original one.

  17. Spaggyj says:

    I'm sure I'd love it! And thanks πŸ™‚

  18. gdare says:


  19. SittingFox says:

    That's really fascinating. That cathedral is beautiful and you must be able to so feel the history there.And great use of your height! πŸ˜‰

  20. MizzMartinez says:

    Yes, I have been in Prague! πŸ™‚ That church (the cathedral) made a HUGE impression on me. I was standing outside it for over 2 hours…by the insides are beautiful as well. πŸ™‚ Check this album:

  21. gdare says:

    Adele – almost everything in Vienna makes you feel like that :)MizzM – thank you, you brought back some memories :happy:

  22. MizzMartinez says:

    You are always welcome! πŸ˜€ :happy:

  23. edwardpiercy says:

    Great stuff, Darko. And it is (as Allan said) a beautiful cathedral. I was glad to learn some of the history about it. I'm also glad you found a way around that 10 EU fee! :up:"bones packed together like firewood, divided from sculls"In English, this is called an ossificatorium. I don't know what it is in German. But given that it's a Latin word anyway, I'm not sure it makes any difference. (And my thanks to Umberto Eco and The Name of the Rose for learning that one — In fact it's not even in the Oxford English Dictionary. :))

  24. gdare says:

    I am glad you mentioned Umberto Eco and The name of the Rose because my next post will be somehow connected to it ;)Thanks.

  25. studio41 says:

    Amazing portraits, really. These are so cool! Thanks for the education, too. Sobering.

  26. gdare says:

    Thanks Jill. I am :happy: that most of my friends like my posts. This morning I met one of my friends from Belgrade, who is not a member of Opera Community, and he told me he read ma latest posts about Vienna and that he liked them a lot :DAnother friend told me that he will sent me next time when he plan to travel somewhere – he said that my photos and story both are better than what he will be able to describe πŸ˜†

  27. studio41 says:

    what a wonderful commentary about your sharing! :up:

  28. gdare says:


  29. martinouellette says:

    wow… it's been a while I didn't connect! So much to read……The cathedral is amazing, I have to visit Europe, so old.:)

  30. gdare says:

    :)Thank you. You should…

  31. rose-marie says:

    Wow, that's amazing! Funny story about Beethoven :D. I've never heard about that.Catacombs are really… special. I've been down a few myself and it's so weird seeing bones after other people.I saw a couple of skeletons in Pompei too, and I have to admit I was very in doubt if I should photograph them or not. I decided to in the end, though.

  32. gdare says:

    When will you post them?We were not allowed to make photographs and were warned few times to put cameras away :left:

  33. rose-marie says:

    I don't know if I'll post those specific pictures…It wasn't allowed to take photographs in the catacombs I visited either, but that was to preserve the frescos. I find that a bit weird, though seeing as the frescoes in Pompei has lasted for almost 2000 years in open air.

  34. gdare says:

    It seems that flash from cameras has specific effect on them… In some museums I visited, it was allowed to use cameras but without flash.

  35. LorenzoCelsi says:

    You would no expose an ancient painting to the direct sun light. Same for the flashes, it is not ONE flash but thousands for years. Another big problem in the museums is the humidity produced by people breathing, believe or not.

  36. gdare says:

    Yes, and touching a picture (some people tried to do it :faint:) is among deadly sins.As for flashes, I think it could be thousands for a day :eyes:

  37. rose-marie says:

    I remember they had guards in the Sistine Chappell, but I never saw them do anything even if there were lots of people who took photos with the flash on.I've heard about that humidity thing too. I think that's why some places (like the Hypogeum on Malta) only admits a certain amount of people a day.

  38. gdare says:

    Then I will have to go to Malta soon πŸ˜€

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