September 12, 2012

0319 AUSTRIA (Vienna) - Historic Centre of Vienna - Saint Stephen's Cathedral and Saint Charles's Church (UNESCO WHS)

Saint Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna (Stephansdom - in image, the one in gothic style) appears also in a multiview postcard received by me last year and posted here. As I said, it is part of the Historic Centre of Vienna, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001. Founded in 1137, the partially constructed Romanesque church was solemnly dedicated in 1147 to St. Stephen in the presence of Conrad III of Germany, Bishop Otto of Freising, and other German nobles who were about to embark on the Second Crusade, which otherwise will prove to be a failure.

Between 1230 and 1245, the structure was extended westward, but in 1258 a great fire destroyed it largely. The church was reconstructed, also in Romanesque style, and consecrated in 1263. In 1304, Albert I of Habsburg, King of the Romans and Duke of Austria, ordered to be constructed a Gothic three-nave choir, and work was completed under his son, Albert II. The south tower was also completed in 1433, the vaulting of the nave in 1474, and the foundation for a north tower was laid in 1450, but its construction was abandoned in 1511. Meanwhile, in 1469 was canonically established the Diocese of Vienna, with St. Stephen's Cathedral as its mother church. In 1722 the see was elevated to an archbishopric.

Standing at 136 metres tall, its south tower is a dominant feature of the city skyline, and it served as the main observation post during the Siege of Vienna in 1529 and again during the Battle of Vienna in 1683. The cathedral has 23 bells, among which is St. Mary, better known as Pummerin ("Boomer"), the largest in Austria and the second largest in Europe (after Peter, located in Cologne Cathedral).

It’s very interesting that in 2000 the excavations for a heating system revealed an ancient cemetery dating back to Roman times, to the 4th century, which suggests that an older religious building predated the Church of St. Rupert (Ruprechtskirche), considered today the oldest church in Vienna. In the catacombs located below the church are the remains of over 11,000 persons, and the Ducal Crypt holds 78 bronze containers with the bodies, hearts, or viscera of 72 members of the Habsburg dynasty. Inside the cathedral are the tombs of Prince Eugene of Savoy and of Emperor Frederick III.

On the left can be seen the green dome of the St. Charles's Church (Karlskirche), considered one of the most outstanding baroque church structures, which boasts also with two flanking columns of bas-reliefs. It is the last work of the architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, and was finished in 1739, after his death, by his son Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach. The church, consecrated to the patron saint of the Charles VI, Saint Charles Borromeo, was built as the result of a vow taken by Emperor during a plague epidemic. The frescoes in the cupola, made by Johannes Michael Rottmayr, contain "1250 square meters of incredible splendor and beautiful colors", showing the glory of Saint Charles Borromeo.

About the stamp
The stamp is part of a definite series isued on 2012 and dedicated to the modern austrian architecture:
• Ars Electronica Centre Linz (0.07€)
• Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien (0.62€)
• Kunsthaus Graz Universalmuseum Joanneum (0.62€)
• Kunsthaus Bregenz (0.62€)
• Kunsthalle Krems (0.62€)
• Lentos Kunstmuseum Linz (0.70€) - it's on other postcard
• Museum der Moderne Monchsberg Salzburg (0.70€) - it's on the postcard
• Essl Museum Klosterneuburg (0.70€)
• Forum Stadtpark Graz (0.90€)
• Kunsthalle Wien Project Space Karlsplatz Wien (1.45€)
• MAK Centre Schindler Chase house Los Angeles (1.70€)
• Austrian Cultural Forum New York (3.40€)

St. Stephen's Cathedral - Wikipedia
St. Charles's Church - Wikipedia
St. Charles Church - Vienna info
Stamps issued with AT025.11 - UPU official site

sender: Sandra Galli (direct swap)
sent from Pöllau (Styria / Austria), on 10.07.2012

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