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Although construction of Stephansdom, which translates to “St. Stephen Cathedral” in English, started in 1137, the Cathedral as it’s known today wasn’t completed until 1952. Throughout the centuries, it underwent expansions, survived fires, and even withstood severe bombings, only to be restored to greater glory each time.
The first consecration of the Cathedral – originally designed in the Romanesque style and known then as St. Stephen’s Church – was dated 1147. Following its formal dedication, St. Stephen’s underwent an expansion to add a second Romanesque church. But in 1258, a great fire tore through Vienna , destroying the church. Five years later, St. Stephen’s was rebuilt.
The next 400 years brought even more expansion. North and South Towers were constructed, a Baroque altar was added, the Gothic-style choir was completed, and by 1711, the “Pummerin,” Austria’s largest bell, was added. St. Stephen’s continued to prosper as it was named a metropolitan church, and Mozart was even married here in 1782.
The 20th century once again brought destruction and rebirth to St. Stephen’s. In 1945, the Church burned down as a result of sparks from nearby burning houses during WWII. During its restoration, a new roof was added featuring glazed tiles arranged in diagonal, linear patterns. The emblem of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, the double headed eagle, was also included on the eastern part of the roof.
St. Stephen’s restoration was fully completed in 1952. During its celebratory procession, a new Pummerin bell was delivered. Today, St. Stephen’s still proudly stands tall – its 136 m (446 ft) high spire makes it the tallest religious monument in Vienna.
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