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I was in Vienna with my dear husband for several days now, during our vacation. It was time to visit one of the most famous monuments from this beautiful capital: Karlskirche.
The visit to this monument of Vienna was decided long before actually getting there, during the planning of the trip. I saw different flyers and read some stuff both on Wikipedia and on the official website, so I knew that the cathedral was build in baroque style, it has some exterior columns with a climbing spiral decoration similar to a column famous to the Romanians (Traian’s column, in Italy, Rome), but I din’t’ have the slightest idea about what I would find. Most of all, I didn’t know how well will I feel here.
We got to Karlskirche with the subway (U-bahn). There’s a station right next to the park in front of the church. It was sometime in the afternoon – and yes, we were kind of exhausted – but we knew that we wouldn’t have time to get there another day so…
From the outside: impressive! Took some pictures, admired the view and entered the cathedral.
For an entrance fee of 8 euros you also get an audio guide. Only after that can we say that we got inside the church. I was simply conquered by this building. Everything was white, pure, shiny, peaceful. I was surprised not to get into a very crowded cathedral (like at the Stephansdom – more about this one in a different post) – and I had a really nice surprise. More quiet, more room to walk, admire and listen to the explanations at your own pace. And we both listened the details provided by the audio guide very carefully: the church’s story, details on each shrine and so on. When you’ll get to see Karlskirche you’ll notice different interesting elements; for instance, the dome above the shrines: you think you see the dome and it’s ceiling, but in fact there’s another smaller dome above the main one. A dome in a dome – a very interesting effect, see the picture below.
Each shrine has its own story – and you will find out its significance, details about the painters and so on – quite a lot of interesting data. Regarding this church’s history, keep in mind that “In 1713, one year after the last great plague epidemic, Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor, pledged to build a church for his namesake patron saint, Charles Borromeo, who was revered as a healer for plague sufferers”. You will hear all the details on the audio guide.
After finishing the ground floor you’ll probably be interested to take the elevator to the top of the church’s dome. Well, almost to the top – because there are several stairs you have to climb on a wooden ladder (solid, construction-grade metallic structures – don’t think anything dangerous!). The trip in the elevator provides a breathtaking look at the church’s organ and, of course, at the paintings. Karlskirche is a re renovated monument – but the artist maintained the look and the spirit of the original. Please believe me, there’s a lot to see and admire – be it a religious, or non-religious viewer, catholic or not. We decided to climb the stairs to the top of the church. As you approach the roof, the air gets hotter – something both logic and natural, since there’s no open window at the very top hence no ventilation. Climbing the stairs becomes increasingly difficult – especially if you try to do it rather fast. But this climbing effort is really worth it. I strongly recommend you to get to the top if no health problem is preventing you from doing it.
After some minutes spent admiring the view we got back to the ground floor. We were tired – and we sat down on the benches in the church to catch our breath – we really needed that. It is a nice feeling to simply sit in this church, to let your mind get free from any concern, to embrace the peace inspired by this place. I took advantage of this break and took some more photos – the statues from the main shrine – and spent some time admiring the assembly above the altar, assembly made out of pure gold.
In Karlskirche you can also visit Boromeo Museum – we didn’t do that so if you visit it please let us know what you think about it!
If you get in Vienna and would like to visit a single cathedral, having to make a choice between the alternatives, I’d recommend this one against the maybe more popular Stephansdom; Karlskirche is an optimistic, nice, bright, beautiful place. Actually you’ll leave this place with a nice feeling!
You can have a glimpse of how Karslkirche looks by taking these virtual tours of different sections of the cathedral on the official website, here. Isn’t it amazing?