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St. Stephens Cathedral
The history of the 'Dom- und Metropolitankirche zu St. Stephan und allen Heiligen' (Cathedral and Metropolitan Church of St. Stephen and All Saints), with its 130 meter high tower undoubtedly the landmark of Vienna, goes back to the Middle Ages. Today it is lovingly, and with an undertone of reverence, simply called 'Steffl' by all Viennese. From the tower, there is a gigantic view over Vienna and located directly in the center, surrounded by the famous Viennese coffee houses, the Steffl is the perfect starting point to explore the city.
Of the total 13 bells of St. Stephen's Cathedral, the Pummerin is the most famous. It is the second largest free-swinging, chiming church bell in Europe. It is located in the north tower, which, according to legend, could never be completed due to a pact of the architect with the devil.
During its more than 800-year history, St. Stephen's Cathedral has been repeatedly altered, added to and rebuilt, culminating in the Baroque style, which is the dominant style today.
In addition to the priceless and imposing altars and side chapels, the cathedral treasury is equally impressive, with its richly with gold and precious stones relics decorated, monstrances, liturgical texts and books, as well as old ecclesiastical robes.
Emperor Frederick III, among many other Austrian personalities, found his final resting place here in the cathedral, as did the Habsburg Duke Rudolf IV "the Founder", who laid the foundation stone for the Gothic reconstruction of the cathedral in 1359.
Cathedral building and sacred music are firmly rooted in each other and have developed and evolved through the ages. Joseph Haydn himself performed in the cathedral when he joined the cathedral choir as a chapel boy in 1740.
Today, the cathedral hosts top-class concerts throughout the year, representing the entire spectrum of classical music. Besides Hayden, of course, Vivaldi's Four Seasons, Handel's Messiah, Bach's St. John Passion, and as the highlight of each year, the Advent concerts with the most beautiful Advent carols in the brightly decorated Christmas cathedral church.
The 12000 pipes of the cathedral's giant organ welcome top organists from all over the world to Vienna for regular organ concerts. The organ, which was unplayable for many years, was recently renovated and connected to the smaller choir organ. The organ console is now centrally located in the nave, giving the audience the opportunity to watch the organist's fingers as he plays with virtuosity. The mighty sounds fill the equally imposing church space with programs from Johannes Bach and Max Reger to pieces by lesser-known but equally talented artists. Every year, at the hour of Mozart's death, on December 4 at midnight, the Requiem composed by him is played in his honor; a fitting tribute to a great master!