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St Stephen’s Cathedral

Ancient, glorious and shot-through with history, this Gothic pinnacle makes the skyline of central Vienna its own.

Commanding the heart of the Inner Stadt, St Stephen's Cathedral rises from the centre of Vienna like a ghostly reminder of the medieval city that once spread around it. With its frosted-white Gothic tower soaring 136 metres into the sky and its vibrant zigzag tiled roof featuring the Habsburg double-headed eagle, it's an unmistakeable icon of the capital. And with a history stretching back to Roman times, every brick, tile and statue has a tale to tell about this imperial city.

The story of St Stephen's traditionally starts with the Romanesque church built here in the 12th century. But recent diggings have shown that a Roman cemetery was sited here in the 4th century. The church was dedicated to St Stephen – the first Christian martyr – in 1147, but it was largely destroyed by a terrible fire in 1258. The western gate, and its two Romanesque windowed-towers, survived however.

The fabulous Gothic needle of the north tower was completed in 1443, and its white spire can be seen from most of Vienna. That made it an invaluable watch-tower during Vienna's two major sieges. Once blackened by pollution, recent restoration has seen its limestone returned to its pristine-white condition.

There is much to be seen inside St Stephen's too. The eye is drawn first to the marble Baroque High Altar, with its scene of the stoning of St Stephen. On the left side of it is the beautifully carved and gilded Wiener Neustädter Altar, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. And to its right is the red marble tomb of the man who commissioned it – Emperor Frederick III – with its 240 finely sculpted statues.

Other highlights include the dark depths of the catacombs (home to 11,000 skeletons) and the Ducal Crypt, where 78 bronze urns contain remains of the Habsburg family. More spiritually uplifting, though, is the Maria Pötsch Icon. This weeping painting of the Madonna came from a Hungarian village. It hasn't wept since it arrived, but many believe that it once helped saved the city – and St Stephen's – from Turkish invasion.


Guide to Exploring St. Stephen's Cathedral


Map

Top St. Stephen's Cathedral Hotel & Accommodation Deals

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Steigenberger Hotel Herrenhof Wien NZ$297
Steigenberger Hotel Herrenhof Wien

Steigenberger Hotel Herrenhof Wien

Herrengasse 10, Vienna, Vienna
     
    4.5 out of 5.0 Stars

    Located in Innere Stadt, this luxury hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Spanish Riding School, Hofburg Imperial Palace and Burgtheater. St. Stephen's Cathedral and Vienna State Opera are also within 15 minutes. Herrengasse U-Bahn is only a 2-minute walk and Schottentor U-Bahn is 7 minutes.

    Hilton Vienna Plaza NZ$289
    Hilton Vienna Plaza

    Hilton Vienna Plaza

    Schottenring 11, Vienna, Vienna
       
      5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      This family-friendly Vienna hotel is located in the historical district, within a 10-minute walk of Vienna City Hall Area, Burgtheater and University of Vienna. Austrian Parliament Building and Spanish Riding School are also within 15 minutes. Schottentor U-Bahn is only a 2-minute walk and Schottenring U-Bahn is 8 minutes.

      Vienna Marriott Hotel NZ$378
      Vienna Marriott Hotel

      Vienna Marriott Hotel

      Parkring 12 A, Vienna, Vienna
         
        5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located in Innere Stadt, this luxury hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Ronacher and Viennese City Park. St. Stephen's Cathedral and Musikverein are also within 10 minutes. City Park U-Bahn and Stubentor U-Bahn are within a 5-minute walk.

        Hilton Vienna NZ$245
        Hilton Vienna

        Hilton Vienna

        Am Stadtpark 1, Vienna, Vienna
           
          5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          This family-friendly Vienna hotel is located near the airport, within a 15-minute walk of Viennese City Park, Hundertwasser House Vienna and St. Stephen's Cathedral. Stephansplatz and Musikverein are also within 15 minutes. Landstrasse U-Bahn and Wien Mitte Station are within a 2-minute walk.

          Ruby Lissi Hotel Vienna NZ$226
          Ruby Lissi Hotel Vienna

          Ruby Lissi Hotel Vienna

          Fleischmarkt 19, Vienna
             
            3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in Innere Stadt, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Schwedenplatz and Stephansplatz. Hofburg Imperial Palace and Hundertwasser House Vienna are also within 1 mi (2 km). Schwedenplatz U-Bahn and Stubentor U-Bahn are within a 5-minute walk.

            Boutique Hotel Am Stephansplatz NZ$426
            Boutique Hotel Am Stephansplatz

            Boutique Hotel Am Stephansplatz

            Stephansplatz 9, Vienna, Vienna
               
              4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in Innere Stadt, this hotel is steps away from St. Stephen's Cathedral and Wien Museum Virgilkapelle. Ankeruhr and St. Ruprecht's Church are also within 10 minutes. Stephansplatz U-Bahn is only a 2-minute walk and Herrengasse U-Bahn is 8 minutes.

              The Ritz-Carlton, Vienna NZ$475
              The Ritz-Carlton, Vienna

              The Ritz-Carlton, Vienna

              Schubertring 5-7, Vienna, Vienna
                 
                5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located in Innere Stadt, this luxury hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Konzerthaus and Musikverein. Viennese City Park and Vienna State Opera are also within 10 minutes. City Park U-Bahn is only a 3-minute walk and Karlsplatz U-Bahn is 7 minutes.

                Hotel Kaiserin Elisabeth NZ$276
                Hotel Kaiserin Elisabeth

                Hotel Kaiserin Elisabeth

                Weihburggasse 3, Vienna, Vienna
                   
                  4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in Innere Stadt, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of St. Stephen's Cathedral, Albertina and Vienna State Opera. Hofburg Imperial Palace is 0.5 mi (0.8 km) away. Stephansplatz U-Bahn is only a 3-minute walk and Stubentor U-Bahn is 8 minutes.