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St. Stephen’s Cathedral
from - Video Album
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National Archives
Reconstruction after the Second World War: climbers on St. Stephen’s Cathedral
Seat of the archbishop (cardinal) of Vienna, one of the most significant buildings of the middle European high and late Gothic period, statuesque example of the southern German and Austrian Staffelkirche and an emblem of Vienna. Characteristic are the stand-alone traverse position of the towers, the integration of the Romanesque west façade, the high Gothic choir and the striking steep roof with ornate patterns of coloured tiles.
Stephansdom - © Citype - Gaube Stephansdom - © Citype - Gaube
The first Romanesque church – instigated in Passau (hence the patron saint martyr St. Stephanus) – is consecrated. It was built in a quarter of new merchant settlements, incorporated into the city’s fortifications in the second half of the 12th century (This is the part between Singerstraße and Wollzeile, the road to Hungary.). It lies outside, to the south-east of the oldest part of town, the Roman fort, Vindobona. The building was in its dimensions already a sizable, basilica-like construction, which already included the outline of the Heathen Towers to the west when it was completed.
Restoration after a fire. The impact on the Romanesque church is not known in detail. The Giant’s Door (Riesentor) was rebuilt earlier, when Vienna was, for a short time the residence of the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Subsequently, a renovation of the western gallery (Westempore) was undertaken as well as an extension of the Westtürme (Towers of the Heathens). It is from this period that the carvings on the Giant’s Door, the vaults, capitals and rose windows on the western gallery originate.
stephansdom64.jpg (35605 Byte)
1304 - 1340
Construction of the Gothic choir, the Albertine choir, named after the Habsburg Albrecht II. (1330 – 1358).
The Viennese bourgeoisie initially acquired the necessary land and “the Viennese citizens testify as clients of the Gothic choir in the Zwettler documents from 1303 and 1304”. This civic foundation was afterwards converted into a ducal one.
The following document of indulgence – the original is written on parchment and furnished with a pendant seal – is to some extent the historical master document of the choir consecration and therefore vitally important for the architectural history of St. Stephen’s.
Stephansdom - © Marta Szczesniak - FOTOLIA
Bishop Peter of Marchapolis awards an indulgence of 40 days, at the request of the parishioners, to everyone, who either visits the inauguration of the choir of St. Stephen’s Church (which was carried out on the above day in the presence of and with the authority of Bishop Albert of Passau), or who visits the church on patronal festivals.
Laying of the foundation stone for further Gothic reconstructions of the nave (southern and northern wall), the Singer- and Bishop’s gate as well as both of the double chapels on the side of the Romanesque western building. In addition, the erection of altogether four towers was planned. But in fact only the southern transept tower (the “St. Stephen’s Tower”) was started.
Any alterations are linked to the attempts of Duke Rudolf IV. both to elevate Vienna to a diocese, and also to the foundation of the University of Vienna.
Consecration of the Catharine Church also known as the baptistery (Katharinenkapelle or “Taufkapelle”) at the eastern side of the south tower.
Peter von Prachatitz is master builder of the cathedral. The townspeople enable the extension of the tower through financial backing.
1417 - 1430
Construction of the lower vestry.
Completion of the south tower under Hans von Prachatitz.
1440 - 1459
Completion of the high Gothic nave.
Stephansdom - © Jean-jacques Cordier - FOTOLIA
Planning and start of construction of the north towers by Hans Puchsbaum.
On the day of the Regensburger Hüttentag, the Cathedral Building Lodge of St. Stephen’s in Vienna is proclaimed the principal lodge of Central Europe.
Expansion of the upper vestry.
Under Frederick III. the diocese of Vienna is founded.
The Barbarakapelle at the northern tower is completed following Puchsbaum’s plans. Formerly this extension to the north tower was called Urbanuskapelle.
Discontinuation of construction on the north tower. It is higher than the wall of the nave but lower than the ridge height of the choir roof. To crown the tower stump, an octagonal superstructure was attached, which was then completed with a so-called “Welsh bonnet” (welsche Haube) by Kaspar and Hans Saphoy in 1578. The Welsh bonnet is a Gothic style shape of a dome.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral around 1530
Bishop Friedrich Graf Breuner initiates the change into the Baroque era of the furnishings in St. Stephen’s Cathedral as a demonstration of the counter-reformation. He commissions the brothers Jakob and Tobias Pock from Constance to construct a new high altar.
Damage due to numerous cannon balls during the Second Turkish Siege.
about 1700
Second wave of transformation into the Baroque era: Gothic winged altars as well as their early Baroque replacements are exchanged for Baroque marble altars.
The so-called catacombs are arranged to become a burial place.
The cemetery around the church is abandoned and entirely removed in 1783.
The French Wars, too, do damage to the Cathedral through artillery fire.
Stephansdom - © Citype - Gaube Stephansdom - © Citype - Gaube
Repair work on the south tower.
Roof renovation of the Albertine choir.
1853 - 1854
Extension of the remaining gables (Wimperge) in the roof area, only one of which was completed by Puchsbaum under Friedrich III.
1863 - 1864
Master builder of the cathedral, Friedrich Schmidt, is leading the restoration of the tower dome.
Stephansdom, April 1945 © Pressebildagentur Votava Stephansdom, April 1945
Friday, 13 April: Cathedral fire during the last days of the Second World War. The roof burns down, the vaults of the middle choir and the southern side gate collapse. The bell Pummerin (“Boomer”) falls to the ground and bursts. The cathedral is severely damaged.
1945 - 1952
Reconstruction of the choir roof.
The crypt is built in the catacombs under the apostle choir.
1954 - 1965
Restoration work on the south tower.
Renovation of the Herzoggruft; construction of the lower church and the Lapidarium (collection of stone monuments).
Completion of the dome on the north tower (Saphoy’s bonnet) where the Pummerin is placed.
Consecration of the people’s altar (Volksaltar; provisional arrangement).
1977 - 1998
Renovation work on the north tower.
Stephansdom - © scales - FOTOLIA
Conversion of the chancel and consecration of the new people’s altar on 14 September.
Consecration of the cathedral organ (servants – Mother of God receives a new position here).
Total length: outside 107.2m; inside 91.8m
Width of the nave: 38.9m
Height of the south tower: (highest tower) 136.7m
Height of the north tower: 60.6m
Height of the Towers of the Heathens (Heidentürme): 65.6m
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St. Stephen’s Cathedral
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