(NOTES FROM VIENNA)
ST. STEPHEN'S CATHEDRAL
The massive St. Stephen's Cathedral is situated
virtually in the center of old town Vienna.
It is a landmark hard-to-miss throughout the city,
as Vienna is a town without skyscrapers.
And yet, this grand daddy of Gothic churches
was its own skyscraper during the Middle Ages.
Construction of the original church structure
was completed in 1160. The 450-foot ornate tower
was finished in 1433. (It took 65 years to finish.)
The cathedral is undergoing almost constant restoration
due to the porosity of Middle Ages limestone.
There are catacombs beneath the church,
with 11,000 persons buried there.
(72 of the Habsburg rulers are entombed here.)
There are 23 bells, 18 altars and famous tombstones
attached to the outsides of the church walls.
The roof is covered with 230,000 colorful ceramic tiles!
The marble pulpit, beneath a golden starburst,
is outside at street level.
Here the bishop could preach to large public crowds
against the Ottoman Empire, which helped with their demise.
But on a bright, sunny afternoons
the real show is inside the massive cathedral . . .
with stained glass colored reflections
putting on a show for the faithful.
inside and out!