Travel: Vienna Churches

Despite my growing impatience for the medley of iconic religious frescoes, alters, chapels, and biblical interpretations, I continue to struggle with avoiding the visitation of churches. It is not hard to deny how intrinsically the tie into european culture; the strength of the populations devotions has deep roots with the development of heritage. As such, the following two are presented briefly.

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St. Steven’s Cathedral is an icon of Vienna, and dominates the shopping streets of the city center. It is  the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese, and the seat of the current Arch Bishop, Christoph Cardinal Schönborn. The site stands on the ruins of two earlier churches, the former dating from 1147. As a symbol of the city, it has borne witness to vital moments of Austrian History. The tomb houses the Bishops, Provosts, and Ducal crypts. Furthermore, it was only spared damage from the World War II bombings, when Captain Klinkicht disregarded orders from the city commandant to leave it in just debris and ashes.

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Interesting Fact: “The composer Ludwig van Beethoven discovered the totality of his deafness when he saw birds flying out of the bell tower as a result of the bells’ tolling but could not hear the bells. ”

The roof is multicolored, and despite its exterior having been marred black by pollution overtime, significant restoration projects have helped it regain its glossy tiled and white facade.

The Interior is a rainbow of colors that interplay with each other along the Gothic/Romanesque pillars, high spanning nave, and mass of windows. It is a current art feature, and provides a creative, modern-day take on the limestone cathedral.

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I also stopped by to visit St. Peter’s Church. It lies but a few streets away, but the two couldn’t be more different. This other one reflects the Baroque style, and maintained by the priests of the Opus Dei. Despite having origins dating from the early middle ages, the current building was inspired by St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, with construction beginning in 1701. The interior golden stucco is particularly eye-catching given how solemn and dark the interior is, due to the current scaffolding that masks the exterior.

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The infamous Plague Column also lies within mere spitting distance. It was designed, and installed to fulfill a vow made by  Emperor Leopold I in 1679, when he fled the plague epidemics, saying that if it would end, a mercy column would be erected in remembrance.

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