The Most Beautiful Churches in Vienna, Austria

| © Koba Samurkasov / Alamy Stock Photo
Ricarda Reininger

Plunge into the beautiful world of Vienna’s churches, and soak up some of the city’s history and culture. We discover the most beautiful and extraordinary churches in this Austrian city.

St. Stephen’s Cathedral

St Stephen’s Cathedral is a landmark of Vienna and the most important Gothic church in the city. The cathedral is about 197-meters long and 34-meters wide and has four towers – two of which lie on the west side and are built in a late Romantic style. The most famous of its 13 bells is the one called the Pummerin. It is the second biggest free swinging bell of Europe. The interior of St Stephen’s Cathedral has many altars and side chapels. Also worth visiting are the catacombs, which contain the graves of Viennese cardinals and archbishops.

St Michael’s Church

This church, together with St Stephen’s Cathedral and the Schottenstift, is one of the oldest churches in Vienna, and dates from the 13th century. It is located in front of the Michaelertor of the Hofburg and seems quite unimpressive at first sight, but, inside the church contains many curious treasures to explore. The building became famous for its crypt, where due to special climatic conditions the corpses didn’t rot.

Greek Church to the Holy Trinity

This church is an Orthodox church in the first district of Vienna. The Greek Church to the Holy Trinity was built during the second half of the 18th century, as the result of the 1781 Patent of Tolerance issued by Emperor Joseph II, which granted religious freedom to all Christians living in Habsburg territory. It is built in a byzantine style, but was added to by Theophil von Hansen who usually designed buildings in a classical Nordic style.

The Church at Steinhof

The Church at Steinhof was built in the years 1904 to 1907, according to plans of the famous Austrian architect Otto Wagner. Also known as ‘St Leopold’s Church’ or ‘Otto Wagner Church’, the church at Steinhof is located a little more outside the city and was constructed to be used by people staying in the area’s psychiatric hospital. Today, it can only be visited either by looking at its facade or via guided tours, as it is still a church for the same institution’s patients.

Minorites Church

This is a Roman Catholic church in the city center and one of the oldest churches of Vienna. The recorded mention of the Minorites Church was at the beginning of the 13th century. The church was given to Franciscan monks (or the order of the ‘Minor’) in 1224. It has experienced an eventful history, as it changed owners many times and was often destroyed, which explains the building’s interesting structure.

Karl Borromäus Church

The Karl Borromäus Church is located in the 11th district and is the Roman Catholic church at the Vienna Central Cemetery. It was built in two years from 1908 to 1910, and is one of the two most important Art Nouveau churches in the city, besides the Church of Steinhof. It was designed by Max Hegele, but there are some visible influences from the architect Otto Wagner, as it has some similarities with the Church at Steinhof. Max Hegele also designed the main door of the cemetery.

Votive Church

Visitors will find the Votive Church in the neighborhood that surrounds the major university in Vienna. This 99-meter-high church is the second tallest church in Vienna, and one of the most important neo-Gothic sacred buildings in the world. After an assassination attempt on Franz Joseph in 1853, the monarch’s brother commissioned this church to give thanks for saving the life of the Emperor. In 1854, a project by the 26-year-old architect Heinrich von Ferstel was chosen as the design, and construction began. After a construction period lasting 23 years, the finished church was consecrated on the imperial couple’s silver wedding anniversary.

St. Charles’ Church

St. Charles’ Church is one of the landmarks of Vienna and is located at the south side of the Karlsplatz. It is one of the most important churches built in a baroque architectural style north of the Alps. Commissioned by Emperor Karl VI, this church was built in the 18th century and was dedicated to his namesake Karl Borromäus, who symbolizes one of the plague saints. St Charles’s Church was created by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach. It represents the central relation between Rome and Byzantium, and the design was influenced by the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and Trajan’s Column in Rome.

St Nicholas’s Church

This truly historic building is also a Russian Orthodox Church dedicated to the holy Nicolaus. It was constructed between 1893 and 1899 by the Italian architect Luigi Giacomelli using the plans of the Russian architect Grigorij Iwanowitsch Kotow. Originally, it was meant to be used as an embassy church. It presents five golden domes and has the traditional form of a Russian sacred cathedral. Today, it is the seat of the diocese for Vienna and Austria.

St Peter’s Church

St Peter’s Church is located in a small plaza in the inner city, very close to the Graben and the Plague Column. The original building, if there were some pieces of it left, dates back to late Antiquity, making it the oldest church and parish in Vienna. The new building, which was just ready after about 21 years of construction was the first dome building built in a baroque style in Vienna. Visitors will see the church only if they pass this small alley and stand directly in front of it.

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