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Karlskirche - Vienna visitor guide showing a virtual tour of 'Karlskirche' linked to an interactive map with local and travel information. 360° panoramas from Wien.

In 1713 Vienna was hit by the plague, and Emperor Karl VI vowed to build a church once the city had been delivered from it's plight. The church was to be dedicated to St Charles Borromeo, a former Archbishop of Milan canonized for his work amongst the poor and plague victims there. Karl VI held a competition for the design in 1714 which was won by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach. The building took some 25 years to complete and includes works by most of the eminent artists of the day.

The flight of steps ascending to the main entrance is flanked by two angels representing the Old and New Testament. The reliefs on the pediment by Giovanni Stanetti depict the suffering of the Viennese during the 1713 plague, and a statue of St Charles Borromeo is situated above the pediment apex.

The most striking feature from the front of the church are the two columns that stand either side of the portico. These are modeled on Trajan's Column in Rome and depict scenes from the life of Charles Borromeo. The left hand column illustrates the qualities of Steadfastness, while Courage is shown on the other. The columns also lend an imperial theme to the church, convenient as the commissioning emperor, Karl, shared the same name as the saint. The columns are topped lanterns with an imperial crown on each and surrounded by Habsburg eagles.

A gatehouse stands on either side of the columns, built to resemble Chinese pavilion. Entrance to the church is via the ticket office within the left-hand guard house. Inside Karlskirche the high altar features a stucco relief of Borromeo by Albert Camasina showing the saint being lifted to heaven. The pulpit is richly gilded and decorated with rocailles and flower garlands with two putti above the canopy. Above it all soars the vast dome, decorated with frescoes, the last works of Johann Michael Rottmayr, painted between 1725 and 1730 and depicting the Apotheosis of St. Charles Borromeo.


1 Karlsplatz
A-1040 Wien

U-Bhan : (U1, U2, U4) Karlsplatz
Tram / Bus : 4A, D, J

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