I set out this morning with no plans and more than happy to just take things easy. Which is exactly how the day went in the end, a rather nice change after going fairly full on the last nine days.
I set out this morning on the Underground to visit on of the shopping districts a little out of Vienna. Mariahilferstraβe is an area with a lot of shops and just about anything that you could want to buy. At least that seems to be the impression I got while walking around the area.
After exploring Mariahilferstraβe, I headed back into the central area of Vienna to wander the shopping areas a little. In the end, though I did not find anything that I wanted to buy. With the remainder of the afternoon, I took some time to research what I might be able to do with my time in Berlin and New York. I have limited time in both cities compared to my time in Vienna.
With what I choose to do today, there was no real sightseeing. But I still wanted to share with you a little bit of my time in Vienna. So as promised earlier in the week, I will share about my tour of St Stephen’s Cathedral on Monday.
St Stephan’s Cathedral
St Stephan’s Cathedral is located in the centre of Vienna. The tallest tower can be seen from many locations around the city and stands above many surrounding buildings. So it can almost be used as a centre point to guide you around the city almost. The building is quite distinctive and is fascinating.
There are some different options offered when it comes to seeing the cathedral. You can walk into the church and see the interior without paying. However, you need to pay if you want to see the whole interior. There are some different options for tours varying from €4.50 up to €17.90. (updated April 2017)
The tour option I selected was the all inclusive option for €17.90. Included in this tour was an audio guide of the cathedral, a guided tour of the catacombs and access to both the north and south tour.
As mentioned above it is possible to see the interior of the cathedral without paying. However, you are restricted to the back of the building. If you want to get up close to the altar and to see the many fine details of the interior you need to pay.
The first part of the tour around the main day to day area of the church is a self-guided audio tour. The audio guide runs about 45-minutes and takes you around the front and sides of the church. All of the interesting features are identified through the audio guide and a map. Including many interesting historical details of the church as it stands today.
The second part of the tour I decided on was the go up the south tower. For those who are not great with stairs, this option is better as there is a lift. The lift is an interesting thing in itself; it is small and round holding maybe seven to eight people. Of course, the purpose of travelling to the top of the tower is the view.
There is another point of interest at the top of the south tower as well. That is the largest bell at St. Stephan’s Cathedral, weighing in at over 20 tonnes, and called The Pummerin.
The third part of the tour, which was at a set time is the guided tour of the catacombs. Located below the cathedral, this is a rather interesting and eye opening experience. There is nothing that is trying to be hidden here, but also there is no photography allowed. The photography rule is in place for a good reason, because the catacombs are essentially a big extensive graveyard. Unlike a regular graveyard though the remains of the people buried here are very visible.
The burials below the cathedral range widely. From previous rulers of Austria who have been embalmed, the high priest from the church. Plus there are approximately 11,000 other people. The most eye-opening part is seeing all the burial chambers with the bones still as they lie.
The final inclusion on the tour was a visit to the north tower. Unlike the visit to the south tower, the only way up the north tower is by the stairs. The north tower is also the taller of the two towers and to reach the top is a total of 343 stairs. The approach is not the easiest either with almost all the stairs in one continuous spiral staircase.
A Good Tour
The tour of this beautiful church is very much worth the price in my opinion. You get a real insight into the history of the church and the opportunity to see some great views as well. I would recommend allowing yourself at least two to three hours to see everything. If you are looking to visit the catacombs, I would be sure to check the timing of this guided tour as well. You can find more information at visits to St Stephans Cathedral on their website.