Vienna’s Churches are more than just places of worship. Above all, they are monuments of art and architecture of great historical significance. Not many European cities can brag about such a variety of churches as Vienna!
The history of Vienna, Austria’s capital, goes back to the 11th century when the Roman Empire created a military camp in the area that is now Vienna’s city center. Being the residential city to the Habsburg Emperors, Vienna had a strong association with the Roman Catholic Church. As a result, many Catholic orders built monasteries and cathedrals in Vienna.
Gothic & Romanesque Churches in Vienna
St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephanskirche)
St. Stephen’s Cathedral is Austria’s largest Gothic cathedral and one of Vienna’s most important cathedrals. The 700-year old Stephanskirche is located in the center of the old town, in Stephansplatz. You’ll find yourself quite often in front of St. Stephen’s while visiting Vienna, since from here you can easily navigate to other parts of the city.
One of the most recognizable parts of the St. Stephen’s Cathedral is its colorful roof. If you take a closer look, you’ll notice a beautiful mosaic representing the double-headed eagle, symbol of the Habsburg dynasty. The interior of the cathedral is also very beautiful, featuring 18 altarpieces, various chapels and tall marble columns.
Unfortunately, exploring the cathedral on your own is not possible, as most parts have been restricted by fences. As a result, the part that it outside the fence looks really small and is always full of visitors. Therefore, if you want to discover the many treasures held in this church, you’ll have to take a guided tour.
Stephanskirche is one of Austria’s most prestigious cathedrals. However, I personally didn’t like it so much. It was probably because the cathedral became too touristy and lost its sacred character. It also seemed very dark and cold, unlike other churches I’ve seen which were so bright and welcoming.
But aside from that, Stephanskirche is a place of historical importance. This is the church where Mozart married his wife in 1782 and where Joseph Haydn sang as a choir boy.
Admission: All-inclusive ticket is 17.90 €/person (includes the cathedral tour, audio guide, catacombs and the two towers)
Maria am Gestade Church
Along with St. Peter’s and St Rupert’s, Maria am Gestade (Mary at the Shore) is one of the oldest churches in Vienna and a fine example of Gothic architecture. Located at Salvatorgasse 12, among a maze of narrow streets, its outstanding beauty will surprise you as soon as you turn the corner.
During the Turkish siege of the 17 century Maria am Gestade suffered big damages and lost its consecration. In the years the followed the church’s faith didn’t get any better. During Napoleon’s occupation of Vienna in 1809, the church became an arsenal and a stable. It was only in 1812 that the church finally became what you see today and received its consecration again.
The church’s most impressive feature is its 60-meter high hexagonal bell tower. In the interior of the church is also very beautiful, depicting two Gothic altarpieces dating from the 14th and 15th centuries. Interestingly enough, although the church is beautiful, you’ll come across very few visitors here. That’s probably because it’s not very easy to find.
Votive Church (Vorivkirche)
Votivkirche sits right at the edge of Vienna’s city center, on Ringstrasse. The church was erected by Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian following an assassination attempt against his brother, Emperor Franz Joseph, in 1853. The Archduke’s initiative was to raise funds for erecting a church in thankfulness to God for saving the Emperor’s life. Funds for construction came from the entire Empire.
The interior consists of a nave and two aisles flanked by massive granite columns. The marble altarpiece is particularly beautiful, decorated with panels with glass mosaic inlays.
Admission: free of charge
Church Am Hof (Kirche Am Hof)
It’s impossible to miss the imposing Baroque façade of Church Am Hof if you pass by the square with the same name in Vienna’s City Center. But unless you step inside, you’ll never guess that Am Hof is actually a Gothic church! Church Am Hof was built in 1386 in Gothic style. When the church’s façade burned down in the mid 1600s, it was rebuilt in Baroque style.
The interior of the church is absolutely magnificent! The high arched ceilings and white columns give the church a very bright, clean look.
Church Am Hof has a particular significance in the history of Austria. It was here in 1806 that a royal advisor announced the end of the Holy Roman Empire and the 500-year rule of the Habsburgs dynasty. Today Kirche Am Hof is the main temple of the Croatian community in Vienna.
Admission: free of charge
Baroque Churches in Vienna
St. Charles Church (Karlskirche)
If you have toured enough European cathedrals, you probably know that after a while it’s hard to remember the characteristics of each one you ever visited. But that’s not the case of Karlskirche. In fact, it’s hard to forget what many consider Vienna’s most beautiful and unique church!
Karlskirche was erected by Charles VI, the Holy Roman Emperor, in gratitude for the passing of a Black Plague epidemic that swept through Vienna towards the end of the 16th century. He named the structure after St. Charles Borromeo, a saint who watched over plague victims.
For a Baroque church, Karlskirche has some unusual elements. Like its portico, that resembles a Greco-Roman temple. Or the two tall columns that look very much like Emperor Trajan’s Column you see in Rome.
The church’s nave is over-the-top beautiful, filled with marble and gold, with sunlight streaming in from the windows in its dome. There is a little elevator that will take you to the top of the church. From the platform up here you can see unclose the frescoes that adorn the interior of the dome.
Admission: Adults 6 €; students 4 €; children 10 and under, free.
The Jesuite Church (Jesuitenkirche)
The Jesuit Church is a marvelous example of Baroque architecture, the creation of a Jesuit architect and painter – Andrea Pozzo. The church was dedicated to the assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven. Her salvation symbolizes the salvation of mankind and the triumph of God over evil. This celebration is reflected in the church’s interior, which is painted with triumphant bright colors and gold.
Jesuitenkirche is located on Dr. Ignaz Seipel-Platz, adjacent to the old University of Vienna buildings. Therefore the church is also known as the University Church.
Admission: free of charge
St. Peter’s Church (Peterskirche)
Just off the busy Graben, surrounded by 18th century buildings, is the beautiful St.Peter’s Church (Peterskirche). St. Peter’s is the second-most significant Baroque church in Vienna, after Karlskirche.
The original church that sat on this site dates back to the Middle Ages. However, the Baroque construction that you see today is from the mid 1700s.
St. Peter’s Church is not very big, but it’s unusually bright and beautiful. Everywhere you turn you’ll notice a rich, multicolored ornamental design. The pews are adorned with angelic heads and the walls are covered in frescos. The cupola is quite unusual, featuring a row of windows and a fresco representing the Coronation of Our Lady.
Just behind the main altar is an old Baroque organ built in 1751. The sound of this organ is particularly beautiful. If you are in this area around 3 pm, make sure to step inside. The church offers free concerts every Monday to Friday at 3 pm. We were fortunate to hear Mozart’s Laudate Dominum here. Divine!
Admission: free of charge
Romanesque Style Churches in Vienna
St. Rupert’s Church (Ruprechtskirche)
St. Rupert’s is the oldest church in Vienna, dedicated to St. Rupert – the patron saint of the salt merchants. The Romanesque style of the church is rather modest and simple looking.
The interior is very peaceful – a little oasis in the middle of the tumultuous city, hidden between the tall buildings around. The church sits between Morzinplatz and Ruprechtsplatz and is definitely well worth checking out if in this area of Old Town.
Admission: free of charge
St. Francis of Assisi Church
St. Francis of Assisi Cathedral also known as the Emperor’s Jubilee Church (Kaiserjubiläumskirche), is a newer church. Built in Romanesque style, the church was built between 1898 and 1910 in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria.
From the outside St. Francis of Assisi is incredibly striking, looking more like a castle than a church. Its three red-tiled towers are visible from afar. The interior of the church is simple and bright, depicting some more modern paintings that aren’t the typical older style biblical stories.
St. Francis of Assisi Church sits on the Mexikoplatz, in Vienna’s Second District. This area has lots of immigrants, which probably explains why the church is now home to the Vienna English Speaking Catholic Community.
Capuchin Church (Kapuzinerkirche)
The Capuchin Church and Monastery was built in the mid 17th century by Capuchin brothers. Located in the Neuer Markt square in Vienna’s city center, the building has a rather simple and modest appearance.
Kapuzinerkirche is famous for containing the Imperial Crypt, a burial chamber beneath the church and monastery. Since 1633, this vault has been the final resting place of 149 members of the Habsburg dynasty.
12 emperors and 19 empresses have been buried here, including Maria Theresa – the fierce ruler who persecuted sexual immorality and paved the way for mandatory education in Austria. Burials still take place in the Imperial Crypt to this day. The last Austrian empress, Zita, was buried here in 1989.
Admission: adults: 7.50 €; children & students below 18: 4.50 €
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a wonderful guide that celebrates the stunning architecture and rich history of Vienna’s churches. The author has curated a fantastic list of the most breathtaking and awe-inspiring places of worship in the city, each with its own unique style and character. From Gothic masterpieces to Baroque splendor, the descriptions of each church are accompanied by beautiful photos that bring them to life and make you want to visit each one in person. The author’s writing is engaging and informative, providing fascinating insights into the cultural and historical significance of each church. thanks for sharing …
Thank you for this excellent tour of the exteriors and interiors of ten beautiful churches in Vienna!
I have seen four of them and will seek out the others on my next trip.
Hope you’ll get to see all of them, Rosalind. Thank you for dropping by.
Seeing the city from the roof of St Stephen’s was a special treat. I need to come back to Vienna to explore more. Thank you for your suggestions. It is always hard trying to keep track of the places you have taken pix of and remembering them when you get home.
I’m glad you found this information useful, Jean.
I’m a huge fan of Baroque style! The details are very intricate and also the acoustics of these churches are amazing. My favorite in Vienna is definitely St. Charles. Love how it opens up to the world the moment you step out of it.
The Vorivkirche is one of my favorite churches, the architecture alone amazes me! It is truly a work of art and leaves me in awe! xo – kam
I have visited St. Stephen’s Cathedral on my trip to Vienna. I has no idea there were so many churches in the city. They are all just so stunning
St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna was my absolutely favourite but then I did not manage to go inside all the churches you’ve mentioned here, it was the only one I explored from the inside apart from St Peters church, and I was so in awe of both of them! I did see many other churches from the outside but did not go in. The Nave of Karlskirche looks spectacular!
My favorite was St. Peter’s Church. Absolutely gorgeous!
Beautiful theme, Anda. I love visiting ancient churches. The Karlskirche in Vienna looks astounding. You really covered some ground to focus on all these. Did you come across any choirs practicing while visiting? That was one of the loveliest parts of crossing the European countryside for me.
I actually did and that was quite a treat, Elaine.They were rehearsing for a concert that was supposed to be that evening.
My grandmother is from Vienna so this city is high on my list to visit. I had no idea they had so many different churches all in their very unique and distinct styles. The architecture in each is so beautiful. I particularly liked St. Francis of Assisi Cathedral it almost looks like a castle or palace instead of a church. Another one that I found architecturally spectacular was Votive Church. Wow! So many amazing churches to visit
Hi Joella, you definitely need to Vienna, especially since you have so strong ties to the city.
These are so gorgeous! I always think of Vienna as a city of museums, more than churches, but I see how much I’ve been missing. The details of the architecture are just incredible.
We only saw St. Stephens and Karlskirche on our day in Vienna! Didn’t realize there are so many more!
This was by far the best writeup on Churches in Vienna and will prove valuable for my travel photography trip soon. Thanks!
Glad to hear that, Dennis.
Vienna surely has some of the amazing and unforgettable churches. From this whole list Karlskirche looks just so different and beautiful. I too liked the purpose of its built. The inside of St. Peter’s Church looks good and exterior of St. Francisis Church is quite interesting and picturesque
Churches and Cathedrals in Europe are simply marvelous. These ones in Vienna you’ve recommended is no exception. Too bad I only got to spend a few days in Vienna during my time there in Europe. Now I wish I could go back and check these ones out!
Only had a day. Saw St. Stephens and Karslkirche. Wished I had seen the castle-like Church of St. Francis if Assisi.
So interesting Anda. I’m heading to Vienna next week and already had St. Stephen’s Cathedral on the list but now will need to dedicate more time to explore some of the other churches you mentioned – maybe a whole day of touring.
I absolutely love the roof of the St. Stephen’s Cathedral. What painstaking work that must have been. The Votive Church us very similar to the Cologne Cathedral in Germany. I wonder if they were designed by the same person. The St. Charles Church is really beautiful inside, although I don’t know if I would hear the sermon for looking at it all. I think my favorite of these churches is the Maria am Gestade Church for its simplicity. You’re right though, there are a lot of beautiful and interesting churches to explore in Vienna.
Perfect timing to read this, I’m hoping to visit Vienna this fall ad I always search out the churches. Love the view of Maria am Gestade between the buildings. I will definitely spend time at St. Charles Church, Jesuite Church and St Peters
Glad to hear you are going to Vienna, Sherianne. Hope you’ll have a wonderful trip.
Jenn and Ed Coleman
Vienna has some pretty amazing churches! I would never have guessed that Am Hof was a gothic church. I was completely fooled by the facade.
Linda (LD Holland)
We had a few days in Vienna and only got a taste test. Mostly from the outside of buildings. We really wished we had got inside of St Stephen’s Cathedral. But we did not know how much was out of bounds. We missed the Votive Church. And are sorry to have missed St Charles since it is considered one of Vienna’s most beautiful. Some left for the next time for sure. I do love the variety of the outside and inside designs.
Glad to know you’ve been to Vienna too, Linda. I’m planning to return there soon.
Never been to Vienna! Spent a few hours in Austria driving through to Romania but that’s as much as I’ve seen. These are interesting, many influences and styles reflecting Austria’s position as a crossroads between eastern and western Europe.
You definitely should go visit Vienna, Alyson.
I am an avid fan of exploring churches — great architecture and usually lots of amazing art, too. And free to explore! I love the ceiling of the Maria am Gestade church, and WOW(!) the St Francis of Assissi church is stunning, isn’t it?!
I had no idea that Vienna has so many beautiful churches. The grand interiors of the Maria am Gestade and Jesuite Church look impressive. It was interesting to know about the brief history of Church Am Hof. I wonder how it looks like in Gothic architecture. I am fond of old places, so I feel I will like St. Rupert’s Church. After reading this detailed blog, I am beginning to differentiate between different architectural styles such as Gothic, baroque etc. I am curious for more.
Churches, temples and places of worship are of immense importance to know about the history and the culture of the place. The different types of churches in Vienna surely depict the cultural history of the place. And you have very well mentioned them in this article as well.
Well, St. Stephens looks majestic at a first glance. But I can understand what you are saying here about it being so touristy. I loved the architecture of the Baroque churches too.
There sure are some fascinating cathedrals all around Vienna. I think overall, this is a great list that includes some of the prettiest churches but also some of the historically most important ones. I’m also proud to say I visited 8/10 and would love to check out Am Hof and Jesuitenkirche when I visit again
Good for you, Daniel. If you saw 8 out of the 10 most beautiful churches in Vienna, you really saw a lot!
While in my 2 days trip around Vienna, half a day i wasted being sick and the next few moments were sppent being in super aww by the grandeur of the city’s gothic and baroc architecture . Although haven’t been to most of the chhurches but Witnessing St. Stephen’s cathedral left me spellbound and craving for more .. well scripted post
Thank you, Debjani.
I haven’t seen most of these churches in Vienna. I am a big fan of Gothic style churches but the Baroque churches are also interesting. The Imperial Crypt is a bit beyond what I have ever seen the underbellies of other churches.
Vienna has indeed some of the most astounding churches I have ever seen.
I visited Vienna but couldn’t remember how many of them I saw. The post bring back my memory of that trip. It’s unbelievable that these churches are still so splendid as they used to be.
That’s a really great post! I almost have the feeling that I have been to these churches by reading your blog post! Vienna is definitely an impressive city! How many days did you stay?
About two weeks.
I was in Vienna for a day a couple of weeks ago so it was great to recognise some of these churches from my visit. St Stephen’s roof is stunning but the square in front is so busy with people taking photos!
Yea, I agree. Stephansplatz is way too crowded for my taste.
I know exactly what you mean by St Stephen’s Cathedral. As stunning as it is, I couldn’t appreciate the details given the many tourists and their selfie sticks! I can’t believe I missed the Baroque church, it really reminds me of the architectural style in Sicily. I really loved Vienna but honestly didn’t realise how many churches there were!
You are right, there are a lot of Baroque churches in Sicily as well.