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.

Travel: Beethoven’s Bonn

I took a day trip to the city of Bonn, the birthplace of the beloved Beethoven. Its history dates from 11 BC when the Roman Army was stationed at the current historical center, and consequently expanded this area into a military fort in the coming centuries. More recently, it was recognized as the  provisional capital of West Germany from 1949 to 1990 before it was relocated to the current Berlin.

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The main allure of this town was Ludwig Van Beethoven. He is a composer who I have long admired, and I cannot help but admit that my favorite pieces continue to be Fur Elise and his iconic 5th Symphony.

Beethoven was born to Johann van Beethoven and Maria Keverich in 1770, although his exact birth date is unclear. It is generally taken to be the 16th of December, the date before his baptism in St. Regius, as it was a tradition for children of that era to be baptized the day after birth.

He was one of seven children, however only him and two younger brothers survived infancy.

2013-05-02 04.56.58His primary music teacher was his father, but his methodology was harsh, and as an infant Beethoven is said to have stood over the keyboard in tears. Other local teachers rounded out his musical education with violin and viola. His talent was blatantly apparent even at a young age, and his father claimed that the boy was a child prodigy, and used the age of 6 (he was actually 7) on posters advertising for Beethoven’s first public appearance.

2013-05-02 04.26.50In the years following 1779, Beethoven studied primarily under Christian Gottlob Neefe, the official appointed Church Organist. It was Neefe that helped him publish his first compisition – a set of keyboard variations, = and later obtain a fully paid employee church organist position in 1784. This was a vital turning point in the teen’s history, as after his mother’s death, his father lapsed into alcoholism, which forced young Beethoven to be the primary source of income for his family.


Beethoven officially left Bonn for Vienna in 1792; his father died shortly after this.

He died on 26 March 1827. The picture below is his ‘death mask’ it was typically in that day to remove all of the individual’s hair to save as a keepsake.

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