With its dark Gothic spires, intricately tiled roof, and imposing bell tower, St. Stephen's Cathedral (Stephansdom) is one of Vienna’s star attractions. Centrally located on Stephansplatz square in the city’s UNESCO-listed historic center, the cathedral is architecturally stunning both inside and out. It’s also a site of great historical significance—Emperor Friedrich III and numerous other Habsburg dignitaries were buried here.
Peruse a treasury of medieval goldsmith art, see the Pummerin Bell in the North Tower, delve into a system of underground catacombs, and climb 343 steps to the top of the South Tower. Take a hop-on hop-off bus tour and get off at Stephansplatz for a self guided visit of St. Stephens, or take a tour with an expert guide to learn about the cathedral’s storied history. Most Vienna walking tours stop at St. Stephen’s—a good option if you also want to see other notable city attractions.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Entrance to the cathedral is free, but there is an admission fee to climb the tower.
- The main building is wheelchair accessible, but there is no wheelchair access to the towers or catacombs.
How to Get There
The cathedral’s main entrance is on Stephansplatz, in the Historic Center of Vienna. Car travel is difficult in this section of the city, so it’s best to travel on foot or by public transport. The closest U-bahn (subway) station is Stephansplatz.
When to Get There
The cathedral is open daily, year-round. It can get busy, especially in summer, so plan an early morning visit to avoid the crowds. Worshippers are welcome to attend the daily services, but note that it’s not possible to tour the cathedral while services are in progress.
Architectural Highlights of St. Stephen’s Cathedral
Although it dates back to the 12th century, the cathedral’s Gothic makeover began in 1359 at the behest of Habsburg Duke Rudolf IV, who was nicknamed “The Founder”. Today, the last remnants of the original structure are the Romanesque-style Riesentor (Giant's Gate) and the Heidentürme (Towers of the Heathens), while the dominating feature is the skeletal Südturm (South Tower), which was completed in 1433 and stands an impressive 450 feet (137 meters) high.