Karlskirche - St Charles Church, Vienna

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Vienna's famous baroque church

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  • Andrew_W_K's Profile Photo

    The Karlskirche

    by Andrew_W_K Written May 23, 2009

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    The Karlskirche
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    A wonderful baroque church that is situated on Karlsplatz. The church was built in the first part of the 18th century by King Charles 6th who promised to build a church to St. Charles Borromeo, an Italian bishop from the 16th century who helped plague victims, if the plague in Vienna stopped. It's a slightly odd looking building as it has 2 towers in front of the church but not part of it, depicting scenes from St Charles life.
    The interior is no less impressive with marble and gilt decoration and beautiful frescoes on the upper walls and dome.
    When I was there in May 2009 it was possible to take an elevator up into the heart of the dome and then proceed by stairs to the very top to view the frescoes. I'm not sure if this a feature there all the time or if it was there while work was being carried out.
    Entrance to the church and lift was 6 euros.
    There is also a museum dedicated to Borromeo.

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  • alyf1961's Profile Photo

    KARLSKIRCHE

    by alyf1961 Updated May 10, 2009

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    KARLSKIRCHE
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    Fischer von Erlach designed Karlskirche in 1737. The church is dedicated to St Charles Borromeo, who was the patron saint of the plague. The church is 236 feet high and is the tallest baroque church in Vienna. The dome was inspired by St Peters dome in Rome.

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    It is a must to see it....

    by adema29 Written Feb 14, 2009

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    Night view
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    We had the chance to stay in a hotel near the Karlskirche for few days and we couldn't miss it.
    My son was happy to climb the stairs to the “lantern” on top of dome and enjoy the view of the city from that place.
    The church itself has a nice architecture, with the two columns (so similar to the Trajan's Column in Rome) "protecting" the main neo-classical entrance (one of the first signs of the neoclassical architecture), and the wonderful Baroque dome and towers.
    It will be easy for us to remember the unique, unusual architecture.
    The nice church was built at the beginning of 18th century as the Emperor Charles VI has promised during the Black Plague.

    If you feel good at height don’t hesitate to go up to the top using the lift. Up there try to see everything as I did, like one of the Master J. M. Rottmayr’s apprentice, painting the huge dome, sitting on the wooden scaffolds and hanging his legs at 70 meters above the floor.

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  • wadekorzan's Profile Photo

    Don't miss the Karlskirche (Charles Church)

    by wadekorzan Written Jan 1, 2009

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    Karlskirche at night with the Christmas Market

    The Karlskirche (Charles Church) is located very close to the subway stop called "Karlsplatz", along the subway line U1. The church is absolutely amazing, but more from the outside than from the inside. It's really worth just to go to the big square in front of the church--there's a big round fountain in front of it--and jus sit there and admire the architecure from the outside. Especially nice is the reflection of the church in the fountain in front--really a great place to sit and reflect, literally! The most amazing aspect of the church exterior are the two massive columns, built as a replica of the Trajan's column in Rome.

    The church was finished in 1730 and was built after the emperor, Charles VI, had made a promise he made that he would build the church if the Black Plague would leave the city.

    Important tip: If you go inside, don't expect too much! Otherwise, you'll be disappointed--as the exterior of the church is much more ornate than the interior!

    Opening hours:
    Monday - Saturday: 09:00 - 12:30, 13:00-18:00.
    Sunday and holidays: 12:00 - 17:45.
    Last entrance possible at 17:30.

    One important tip:

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  • easterntrekker's Profile Photo

    Karlskirche

    by easterntrekker Written Sep 7, 2008

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    This 18th-century church is considered one of Europe's greatest works of baroque architecture. The church was commissioned by Emperor Charles VI as an appeal to St. Borromeo to protect the city from the plague, which had killed more than 8,000 victims. . Monday-Saturday 9 am-12:30 pm and 1-6 pm, Sunday and holidays noon-5:45 pm. 6 euros adults, 4 euros children to tour the church and to ride the panorama elevator.

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  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo

    Karlschirche-The best

    by BruceDunning Updated Aug 1, 2008

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    postcard view

    Church of St. Charles Boromeo. Built at request of Emporer Karl VI in 1713 to honor is vows during the plague. It took 25 years to finish. The cupola is 210 feet tall, and columns are 150 feet. It ended up being over budget and therefore, the gilded gold inside and the detail is intricate. One of the most beautiful in Europe, it is Austrian Baroque designed by Johann von Erlach. The twop columns in front are representation of Borromeo, a saint.
    It was built in 1713 by Charles VI edict to recognize the plague ending, and named after Charles Borromeo, healer of the plague.

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    View The Karlskirche Dome Close Up

    by AnnS Written Apr 10, 2008

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    Detail of the Karlskirche Dome
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    Karlskirche is a beautiful church and the exterior is worth close examination. I particularly liked the two intricately carved columns, inspired by Trajan's Column in Rome.

    I usually object to paying to visit places of worship but as the proceeds here go to obvious restoration work, I didn't mind too much. The cost, with a Vienna Card, was 5 euros.

    The interior is impressive with a lot of beautifully coloured marble and a very ornate high altar.

    There was a scaffolding structure which, on closer inspection, contained a lift taking visitors up to a viewing platform in the dome. Once up there, we were rewarded with a close-up view of the amazing frescoes that decorate it and they are truly beautiful. From the platform, you can climb further flights of steps right up into the cuppola. I was hoping for amazing views of Vienna from the top but sadly, there were only small and heavily meshed windows. However, there were more dark and beautiful frescoes which could never be seen from the ground so it was worth the climb.

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  • von.otter's Profile Photo

    A Sunny Train Stop

    by von.otter Written Feb 5, 2008

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    Detail Karlsplatz Metro Stop, December 2001
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    “It is possible to be progressive in art by very simple means and by keeping to useful and economic conditions as well.”
    — Otto Wagner, (1841–1918), on his approach to design

    Train Stop In 1892 Otto Wagner was commissioned to design the stations for Vienna’s newly developed metro system. For the Karlsplatz stop he designed two facing pavilions of gilded metal and marble. The sunflower, Wagner’s favorite, is the dominant motif (see photos for details of these pavilions).

    Completed in 1898 but no longer used by riders today, in warm weather, one pavilion serves as a café, the other as an art gallery dedicated to their pioneering architect/designer.

    The 100-year-old design meets the standard of a classic: timeless, yet, fresh. Two otherwise utilitarian buildings have been transformed into an enduring work of art. Charming!

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  • von.otter's Profile Photo

    Roman Inspiration : Karlskirche

    by von.otter Updated Feb 5, 2008

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    Karlskirche, Vienna, December 2001
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    “Be sure that you first preach by the way you live. If you do not, people will notice that you say one thing, but live otherwise, and your words will bring only cynical laughter and a derisive shake of the head.”
    — Saint Charles Borromeo (1538–1584)

    Master of the Baroque in Vienna, Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach looked to Ancient Rome and Renaissance Rome for the elements that he so skillfully combined in 1715 to create Karlskirche (the Church of St. Charles).

    To give thanks to God for delivering Vienna from plague that swept the city in 1713, Emperor Karl VI made a vow to build a church dedicated to San Carlo Borromeo. As Archbishop of Milan Our Saint had ministered to those sick and dying of plague in his city in 1576.

    The two free-standing front columns are decorated with scenes from Our Saint’s life. The left column shows his steadfastness, the right illustrates his courage. Both were inspired by Trajan’s Column in Rome. The triangular pediment and columns of the front porch are designed after Rome’s Pantheon. And the dramatic green copper, 236-foot high dome pays homage to St. Peter’s; Karlskirche is a landmark on the Viennese skyline.

    The Angel of the Old Testament is to the left of the front steps; the Angel of the New Testament stands to the right (see photos #2 and #3).

    This church is quite visible, standing as it does outside the narrow quarters of the center of the city, with land surrounding it, its many splendid elements can be better appreciated.

    And to Heaven On the high altar San Carlo is assumed into Heaven with hosts of angels to guide his way (see photo #5). Our Saint is the patron of apple orchards, catechists, seminarians, and starch makers; he’s invoked against stomachaches and ulcers.

    Now here’s a thought: the same artist, Lorenzo Mattielli, who created this masterpiece also carved those rock-hard muscular Hercules in front of the Michaelertrakt! (see von.otter’s Vienna travelogue “Hercules in Stone” for photos)

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  • Pavlik_NL's Profile Photo

    Karlskirche: largest Baroque church in the world

    by Pavlik_NL Updated Nov 20, 2007
    A view that one can enjoy for hours
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    As already said: Vienna is by far the Baroque capitol in the world and the summum of this Baroque can be found on the Karlsplatz (Charles Place): the Karlskirche (Charles Church). This church is a true masterpiece of architecture. The church is made of fine white stones and contrasts wonderfully with the green cuprum roof. The central dome rises up high in between two fine decorated columns. Don't hasitate to go inside, as the beauty here is even finer and more spectacular then the outsie already is.

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  • leffe3's Profile Photo

    Karlskirche

    by leffe3 Updated Nov 12, 2007

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    The Karlskirche is one of Vienna's greatest buildings, a Baroque edifice built in celebration of the abatement of the Black Plague that was sweeping Vienna and Europe at the time.

    In 1713, Emperor Charles VI vowed that should the Black Plague abate, he would build a church dedicated to his namesake, St Charles Borromeo, who had nursed plague victims in his native Milan in the 16th century. The plague did abate and the Emperor bought in the great architect of the day, Johann Bernard Fischer von Erlach, who designed the celebration of God's prayers (and the place of the Habsburgs in the social structure). von Erlach worked on it from 1716 until his death in 1722, with the building being completed by his son. Joseph Emanuel, in 1737. Like the structure itself, the extraordinary internal frescoes are a celebration of a father/son relationship, with the Rottmayr's painting the interior of the church.

    It was not universally acclaimed, regarded as something of an oddity with its combination of architectural elements - ancient Greece (the columned entrance porch), ancient Rome (the Trajan columns), contemporary Rome (the Baroque dome) and contemporary Vienna (the Baroque towers). And, with the best form of flattery being imitation, the Karlskirche was never copied.

    Open: Monday-Friday 7:30am-7pm; Saturday 8:30am-7pm; Sunday 9am-7pm
    Entrance fee pyable: 4€ adults, 2.50€ children 6-18, free for children under 6

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    Easter Sunday

    by metallemon Written May 22, 2007

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    We attended a part of Easter Sunday's ceremony in Karlskirche. The church is very beautiful, surrounded with green garden and Karlsplatz, the square in front of Karlskirche, has a big fountain (we found it empty!) with a sculpture in it!
    At the entrance of Karlskirche there are two angels. The left one represents the Old testament and the right the New testament.
    The church is a mix of baroque style and oriental. It's different from typical western Europe churches!
    Next to church and platz there is the Museum of Ciy of Vienna.

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    St Charles Church

    by alancollins Written Jan 2, 2007

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    St Charles Church

    The Karlskirche, or St. Charles Church, is one of Vienna's greatest buildings. In 1713, the Black Plague swept Vienna, and Emperor Charles VI made a vow that if the plague abated, he would build a church dedicated to his namesake, St. Charles Borromeo. St. Charles was a 16th century Italian bishop famous for ministering to plague victims. The emperor's prayer was answered, and construction on the church began in 1715. Though commissioned by the emperor to thank God for his answered prayer, the Baroque church was also designed to glorify the power and rights of the Habsburg Empire. The first builder was Johann Bernard Fischer von Erlach, who started the original work from 1716 to 1722. After his death in 1723, his son, Joseph Emanuel, took over, finishing the work in 1737. When it was finished, the church received mixed reviews and it was regarded as something of an architectural curiosity. The columns at the front of the building display scenes from the life of Charles Borromeo in a spiral relief; however they also recall the Pillars of Hercules and act as symbols of imperial power. The towers give the appearance of minarets on a mosque. The entrance is flanked by angles from the Old and New Testaments. The green copper dome of the church rises 236 feet high, and is a dramatic landmark on the Viennese skyline.

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  • longsanborn's Profile Photo

    Awesome Columns!

    by longsanborn Written Nov 28, 2006

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    When you get to the Karlskirche, Vienna's finest Baroque church, you will be awed by the massive size of the church, especially the two big columns and the dome. You should go inside the church to see the magnificent high altar and the frescos in the Cupola. It is a beautiful and elegant church.

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    Afraid of Heights?

    by rcsparty Written Oct 26, 2006

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    This church was built as a result of the Black Plague by Emperor Karl VI. Construction began in 1714, and two copies of Trajan Column frame the impressive copper dome. It was set outside the city center to provide better viewing of the church. It is well worth the fee to go inside, if you are not afraid of heights.

    I went into the church with my wife and another couple, where we boarded what seemed like a temporary elevator taking us to a wood platform across the base of the dome. You then walk across a wood platform to a series of stairs going to the cupola. At that point, one of the group got nervous and returned to the elevator. When you get to the stairs, there is a sign that says 'no more then 15 people', but you can't see how many are already on them. So we lost another of our group. About half-way up, the scaffolding feels like it is swaying, and person number 3 headed for the elevator. I was rewarded with fantastic views from the cupola, but admittedly was looking for something to hold, if the whole thing came tumbling down.

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