St. Stephen's Cathedral (Stephansdom)#1 in Best Things To Do in Vienna
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Towering above the streets of the Innere Stadt, this massive cathedral is the true centerpiece of Vienna. St. Stephen's has stood in this very spot since the early 12th century, but little remains of the original aside from the Riesentor (Giant's Gate) and the Heidentuerme (Towers of the Heathens). The Gothic structure standing today was built in the early 1300s and has survived the Turkish siege of 1683. It was here that mourners came to pay their respects to Amadeus Mozart in 1791. In 1805, Napoleon used St. Stephen's doors to post his farewell edict. And it weathered attacks from both German and Russian armies during World War II. Today, this stunning cathedral remains an active house of worship, a national icon and a top tourist attraction.
After you've toured the main section, head underground to the catacombs where many victims of the Great Plague of Vienna were laid to rest. Move on to the gruft, or vault, where numerous urns contain the remains of members of the Hapsburg royal family. Before you leave, you should climb the 343 steps to the top of the South Tower or use the elevator to reach the lookout terrace at the North Tower – you'll be treated to a spectacular view. Visitors call this one of those "must-visit" attractions in Europe, praising the gorgeous church and its surroundings.
St. Stephen's Cathedral is open Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Entry to the main section is free, but you'll have to shell out around 5 euros (about $6) to visit the catacombs or climb the towers. Remember that services are still held here – which you are more than welcome to attend – so it is important to be respectful. For more information, including Mass times, visit the cathedral's website.
More Best Things To Do in Vienna
#2 Museum of Fine Arts (Kunsthistorisches Museum)
The works at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, or Museum of Fine Arts, range from ancient Egyptian and Greek objects to masterpieces by numerous European masters, including Titian, Velasquez, Van Dyke and Rubens. In fact, the collection here is so extensive that many people say the walls of the Hofburg Palace look bare in comparison. The building itself, which opened to the public in 1891, impresses travelers as well; its facade features ornate sculptures.
Recent travelers appreciated the wide range of work on display at this museum and note just how large the building is and how much art is held within. A few suggested breaking up the day with a quick cup of coffee at the on-site shop.
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