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 Neustädt 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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